Tolkien Collector's Guide

Practical English - 1967 Article on Tolkien

Oct 14 - By Urulöké


In 1946 Scholastic started publishing Practical English as a weekly magazine for schools to use for learning proper grammar, writing, and other communication skills. They usually have a main article of a few pages and other regular columns, along with quiz materials, and lots of advertisements and short articles targeting teens - for the issues seen from the mid-1960s, the magazines read like a combination of "Seventeen" or "Ms." magazine combined with a school english textbook.

In the March 17, 1967 issue of Practical English, the four page cover article is titled "Desirers of Dragons" (written in runes), written by Julia R. Piggin and illustrated by Tom Eaton. It is followed by the poem "Bilbo's Song" (from The Fellowship of the Ring) with a full page illustration also by Eaton.

The article covers (in typical teen-magazine depth) a bit of biography, publishing history, philosophy and background for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and some background on the Tolkien Society of America and Dick Plotz in particular.

Also illustrated in the article are "The Last Homely House East of the Sea", "Treebeard, Merry, Pippin", "Sauruman of Orthanc", "The Three Ancient Elf-Towers West of the Shire", "An Orc of Mordor", [Untitled - Frodo and Sam in Mordor approaching Mount Doom], and [Untitled - Tree in front of path to mountains - paired with "Bilbo's Song"].

The April 28, 1967 issue of Practical English, in the "Say What you Please" letter column, a few corrections to the article were printed. In addition, the editors provided a description of what was illustrated on the front cover (above) of the March issue.

"About the cover: The two at right are just two elves - the man wears the signs of the House of Feänor on his tunic. Tom Eaton says he thinks of elves with very dark gray eyes. The man with Éowyn is Aragorn, and the winged helm is worn by Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth."

Tom Eaton sadly passed away in 2016. After working at Scholastic for many years, he did illustrations for the Boy Scouts magazine Boys' Life for three decades.

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Illustration Magazine, Summer 2018 - Maker of Middle-earth exhibition article

Oct 7 - By Urulöké

Issue 56 of Illustration magazine (Summer 2018) has a wonderful five page article written by Catherine McIlwaine on the Bodleian exhibition "Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth".


Wayne and Christina first mentioned this article on their blog last month, but it took me this long to order and get shipped from the UK.

Besides the beautiful reproduction of 'Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves' on the cover of the issue, also reproduces are 'The Shores of Faery', the Annotated map of Middle-earth (across the page gutter, so some detail is lost), 'The gardens of the Merking's palace', 'The Aurora Borealis', The Hobbit dustjacket design, 'Conversation with Smaug', a leaf from The Book of Mazarbul, the dustjacket design from The Two Towers, and again 'Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves'.

The article itself is well written, with Catherine discussing mainly the illustrator side of Tolkien and how drawing and painting were a major part of his process for writing. I enjoyed that a few of her comments spurred me to get the exhibition catalogue back out and look up a few additional pieces for further study.

The back issue is available for order from the publisher's website.
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Tom Shippey talk

Oct 2 - By Trotter

Tolkien's turning point: Tolkien and the history of tongues

Tom Shippey's lecture will move from the detail to the (eventual) design of Tolkien's languages, and even the philosophical issues embedded in Tolkien's fiction.

Professionally speaking, Tolkien was a philologist, interested above all in the history and relationships of languages. Personally speaking, he was a self-declared 'niggler', who took immense pains over details. It was a vital moment when he solved a problem, which would have bothered few authors of fantasy, to do with the history and relationship of the languages of Middle-earth. It was this which opened up The Lord of the Rings to its full scale and sweep. ... lkien-and-history-tongues

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Auction - Bluth sketch of Black Rider for Bakshi movie

Sep 29 - By Urulöké


Heritage Auctions has an original concept sketch in their September 30th auction, by artist Toby Bluth. It is titled "Night Rider suggestion for 'Lord of the Rings'". ... ?itemid-121839_75007!wlem

The full description is as follows:
Toby Bluth The Lord of the Rings Night Rider Concept Drawing (Fantasy Films, 1978). Ink on paper by Bluth, featuring an approximately 7" x 8.5" concept design of a Ringwraith for Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of the novel. There's some scuffing, indentations, and a hole near the left edge. Overall in Good condition.
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A Spring Harvest at the British Library

Sep 27 - By Urulöké


With thanks to garm for pointing this out on Facebook -

It is possible to browse (and download!) the entire volume of A Spring Harvest by Geoffrey Bache Smith through the online repository of The British Library. The book is available without license (it is in the public domain).

This volume of poetry was edited by Tolkien, who also wrote the prefatory note. GB Smith was one of the TCBS and a friend of Tolkien's who died in the Great War.

A Spring Harvest by GB Smith - at the British Library
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