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Antiques dealer in court case over forging signatures of Churchill, Oliver Cromwell, J.R.R. Tolkien and Elizabeth I

October 9, 2012 — Trotter (Views: 61027)

Allan Formhalls

An antiques dealer duped unsuspecting collectors by forging the signatures in books of famous writers like Sir Winston Churchill and Robert Louis Stevenson, a court heard today.

Allan Formhalls found the books and magazines in car boot sales and a recycling centre, added the signature and then sold them on eBay as the real thing, Southampton Crown Court heard.

He made thousands of pounds defrauding collectors from as far afield as Texas in the US after also lying about the provenance of the items, the court was told.

Police found the forged signatures of Oliver Cromwell, Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette among others when his home was searched, prosecutors said.

The 66-year-old is accused of selling 68 items bearing Churchill’s alleged false signature at a cost of £10,000 to one collector, Kim Taylor-Smith.




Lost articles

September 25, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 63531)

The last few months of news articles were modified to spam content, and I am currently not able to replace them from backup. I am in the process of making sure that the site is locked down a little better, but there have been instances of valid user accounts posting spam so

Change your password for your account if it is something simple to guess.
Change your password on other sites if you use the same password here.

Hopefully we can keep TCG up against this current onslaught! I may have to disable new account creation for a little while, if I see a need for that. Please email me if you see anything strange on the site, and I will be emailing some of you if I think your account has been compromised.


UPDATE: all articles have been replaced (by hand, from the RSS feed cache) and backed up again. Fingers crossed, [this] hole is plugged!

Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King Book Launch

August 9, 2012 — Trotter (Views: 26857)

Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King

ADC Books are staging a new book launch on Saturday 11th August 2012 from 10am till 5pm at the Redesdale Hall Moreton in Marsh Gloucestershire GL56 0AW, Elizabeth Stephen will be signing copies on the day of her book "Hobbit to Hero: the Making of Tolkien's King". Stalls covering Tolkien and other books on sale, Tolkien art by Ted Nasmith, Jewellery and Memorabilia.


Beyond Bree 2013 Calendar: Evil in Middle-earth

July 20, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 29234)

Beyond Bree 2013 Calendar

"Beyond Bree" 2013 Calendar: "Evil in Middle-earth"
"Beyond Bree" is delighted to announce its new calendar for 2013.

It is time to shine a light on the dark creatures of Tolkien’s world with this breathtaking collection of international art featuring:

Anke Eissmann, Sylvia Hunnewell, Tim Kirk, Octo Kwan, Nancy Martsch, Jef Murray, Ted Nasmith, Colin Williams, Maciej Wygnanski, Patrick H. Wynne and more!

The colour and black & white calendar will have both Middle-earth dates and real world holidays. It will be 11 x 8 1/2 inches, opening to 11 x 17 inches.

Pricing: $20 plus shipping - USA $2.00, the rest of the world $5.00.
For PayPal orders please add $1.00.

Per Procurationem Letter by Tolkien

June 12, 2012 — Morgan (Views: 37219)

Per Procurationem 19 april 1972
Sold by Bukowksis (Stockholm):

19 april 1972. Type-written letter from the author to a reader. Folded, some sun-fading, light foxing. Page size: 22.5 x 15.5 cm.


The book hyper-collector vs. ABEBooks Wants

May 31, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 25827)

The world of book collecting has evolved over the last decade or so as the Internet has had ever greater impact on supply and demand. Various websites and services have emerged that help the dealer and the collector in various ways, and in the process have upended markets and destroyed the "value" of most books, or rather, exposed the fact that there are many more copies of certain books than there are readers+collectors+dealers combined.

For these common editions, prices have effectively gone to zero - a penny on Amazon, the minimum $1 (US) for listings on ABEBooks.com. I can only assume that sellers hope to make a sliver of profit on the shipping.

But what about the more scarce titles that are not in abundant supply? Titles and editions that a collector may have run across once a decade in a dealer catalog or at a book fair in years past, will sometimes show up every few months online, as dealers list their stock - often not even knowing what they have or why collectors might be interested. For most titles that fall into this "scarce" category, it is merely a matter of having a price limit and knowing where to look. Even for a title as rare as Songs For The Philologists, of which only fourteen copies are speculated to survive, there is one available for sale right now if you have the money.

As a collector myself, paying top dollar for something that clearly no-one else is willing to pay (that Songs has been available online for over a year now, and I am sure most online Tolkien collectors have run across it at least once and obviously not bought it) is not a wise use of my money, and frankly not fun. Finding that scarce title within my budget and beating all the other collectors to it is a part of the thrill of the hunt!

We recently had a particular scarce title show up on ABEBooks, and multiple members here all tried to buy it. How the actual sale went down is a different story (and as incomplete, as far as I know - we still don't know who ended up with the book) but regardless, the frenzy itself sparked my interest in figuring out how the system works and how to take advantage of it - in this case, ABEBooks want notifications.

As a hyper-collector myself (for the definition of which, I leave this website as evidence), it is important for me to stay on top of the marketplace I am interested in. ABEBooks offers a useful tool, where any account holder can register a "want" - I can define any number of parameters such as author, title, description keywords, date ranges, condition, presence of dustjacket, etc. Then, whenever a seller uploads a book that matches my criteria, I receive an email telling me that the book is available and giving me a link to go purchase the book immediately if I am so inclined.

Sounds great! On April 16th at 7:48 PM, I received a want notification from ABEBooks telling me that a copy of A Spring Harvest was available and at a great price. I immediately (as in, within seconds) tried to purchase the book, but was disappointed to see that it was already sold according to ABEBooks.com. These things happen, and sometimes I win the race. It wasn't until other people started posting here in the TCG forums about also missing out and a conversation started, that it became clear that some of us had received our notifications almost two hours earlier (corrected for timezone differences, yes). What was going on?!

With many thanks to the community here and the data they provided along with answers from ABEBooks technical staff and a few weeks of research myself, I have been able to draw the following conclusions about the behavior of ABEBooks wants and give hints for bettering your odds to those of you for whom an hour or two difference is critical.

When you create a want at ABEBooks, it assigns that want a number identifier. I just created a want today (May 31st) and it was assigned the Want ID of A505070632. All wants start with the letter A, and then a large number (in this case slightly over 505 million). These Want ID numbers are created sequentially as new wants are submitted to the system. One would think that this means that there are over 505 million wants in their database, but there is a large gap in the number sequence (unconfirmed by ABEBooks but obvious from external analysis). From the original numbering scheme (apparently starting at A1) the largest want I have in my personal list is somewhere just over 20 million. Then the numbering jumps to 500 million and goes up from there. From this, I estimate that there are somewhere less than 30 million wants currently in their system - including deleted wants since numbers are not re-used, so the actual active want count is probably much less than that.

ABEBooks Want Notification Chart

Looking at the chart above, you can see that for this particular book that matched wants, there were three different batches of emails sent out - one at approximately 6 PM, one around 6:45, and the third at 7:48 PM. I was one of those in the third batch. Clearly, having a lower Want ID is better if you are competing with other collectors.

I ran multiple tests with identical search criteria, one with a Want ID around 20 million, one with a Want ID around 504 million. In every case, there was at least 45 minutes difference, and sometimes over an hour difference in when the two email notifications showed up. With the help of the TCG community, I was able to confirm that the exact criteria in a want does not matter (some matched by author name, some by title, some with dates, some not, etc.), just the Want ID.

Note that ABEBooks does allow you to create and/or change your Want ID to anything you like. However, this does not modify the A# assigned by ABEBooks, and has no effect on when your notification may be sent. If you have changed the default Want ID and want to know what your A# is, go to abebooks.com, click on "My Account" then find the "My Wants" link (which is http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/WantMaintList?ph=2 ) then look in the "Update this Want" or "Delete this Want" links below the want you are interested in - the link will look like .../WantMaintUpdatePL?wantId=50xxxxxxx&searchType=...

The main lesson I have learned from this analysis, that can hopefully help out you fellow collectors the most is this - you can modify a want at any time, and not lose your A# priority. Never delete an old want! Save that low A# for a future book you are looking for, and jump closer to the head of the email queue for notifications. I have done this multiple times now in the process of testing out the system and investigating various theories and have had no issues at all.

For those of you just getting started on ABEBooks, perhaps you can bribe a fellow collector to set up an email filter and forward you emails for one of their low A# wants they are not using - I can just imagine a secondary economy of renting Want IDs to those of us crazy enough to want to get into that first batch of emails!

Many thanks to those of you who provided data for me in this analysis, it was much appreciated! May you all get copies of A Spring Harvest at a great price sometime soon!

Tolkien Handwritten Postcard For Auction - Bonhams 12 June 2012

May 29, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 17024)

Bonhams Tolkien Postcard Lot 150 June 2012

Thanks to Morgan for pointing this one out - Bonhams has a handwritten, signed postcard from 1938 (the auction entry originally said 1926 but has been corrected) up for auction. It is quite densely written and is a nice sampling of his handwriting.

Lot 150

Autograph postcard signed ("JRR Tolkien"), to Miss [Katherine or Kitty] Kilbride, giving news of the travails suffered that year and of his family, and complaining abut the state of Oxford in the age of Morris Motors; the card reproducing in colours Josef Madlener's Heilige Familie (published in series of six by F.A. Ackermann), one page, closely written in a minute hand, minor creasing to corners and discoloration but overall in fine and attractive condition, 8vo, [Oxford]

"Oxford is changing very fast and mostly (not wholly) for the worse. It is no longer a University town. The old dialect is driven off the streets, and the old shops are fast being replaced by the dreary semi-municipal architecture of a London suburb; the field for miles are covered with mass produced 'dormitories'. All to house an inessential (and indeed pernicious) industry [Morris Motors]. But people have done that sort of thing since the world began!"

The recipient is K.M. (Katherine or Kitty) Kilbride, who had met Tolkien when studying in Oxford, it is believed at a summer school, and is thought to have been teacher living at Bradford. Her copy of the The Hobbit was sold at Sotheby's New York, 13 December 2002, lot 152, for $75,000.

Estimate: £1,000 - 1,500
€1,200 - 1,900
US$ 1,600 - 2,400

A nice video on the physical book - Adrian Harrington and Jonathan Kearnes

May 23, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 6044)

A nice video from people who clearly love books.

Autograph letters signed by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

May 21, 2012 — Morgan (Views: 4200)

Sold by The Manhattan Rare Book Company:

Letters and books- including an autograph letter by J.R.R. Tolkien and two autograph letters and an autograph note by C.S. Lewis- from the collection of Robert W. Burchfield. [...]
Autograph letter signed by J.R.R. Tolkien to Burchfield dated June 11, 1972 and written from Merton College, apologizing for not returning the book (Kentish Place-Names) he borrowed.


Auction - 2003 Klett-Cotta German Illustrated Edition of The Lord of the Rings

May 10, 2012 — Urulöké (Views: 5583)

Klett-Cotta Lord of the Rings
Hauff and Auvermann is having an auction on June 2nd, 2012 which includes a special illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings produced by Klett-Cotta in 2003.


Description: Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel The Lord of the Rings. Translated from English by Wolfgang Krege. Special Edition. 3 vols (in 1 volume). With full-color book decorations, frontispieces and illustrations by Alexandra Remmes. Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta, 2003. 1411 pp., 2 pp. Quarto. Eggshell-colored full leather binding with blind emboss. No. 199 of 1000 signed by the artist in the imprint. - Without the card and woolen gloves. - Like-new copy.

Original description from the auction house:

Der Herr der Ringe. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Wolfgang Krege. Sonderedition. 3 Bände (in 1 Band). Mit farbigem Buchschmuck, Initialen und Illustrationen von Alexandra Remmes. Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta, 2003. 1411 S., 2 Bl. 4°. Eierschalenfarbener Ganzlederband mit blindgeprägtem Mittelstück im illustr. OPp.-Schuber.
Nr. 199 von 1000 (GA 1111) num. Exmplaren von der Künstlerin im Impressum signiert. - Ohne die Karte und die Wollhandschuhe. - Neuwertiges Exemplar.

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