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Re: History of Middle Earth

Subject: Re: History of Middle Earth
by Khamûl on 2008/3/1 3:28:50

I think Deagol has rounded up identification quite comprehensively. Just remember there is one other factor which (sometimes) determines price - the whole domestic/export issue.


For the early volumes (A&U's volumes 1-4, plus UH's vol 5) there was a clearly marked book club edition. These were usually run on from the initial impression and have the BCA/Guild markings i.e. they have 'BCA/Guild' marked on copyright page, logo on book spine, logo on jacket spine etc . Easy!...

People don't regard these copies as 'true' 1rt impressions, even though they were sometimes produced at the same time as the 1rst impression. They were for distribution to book clubs; they were not for trade sale i.e. they were not for sale to the public. They are not true 1rst/1rst's.

Confusingly from vol 6 (Shadow) onwards the copies distributed to book clubs were identical except they either had the price on the jacket clipped off (by the publisher) or had no price. There was no 'BCA/Guild' anymore.

Working along the Silmarillion (and by the generally asumed conventions of book distribution) principle -books which carry a jacket with no price are regarded as books intented for the foreign market i.e. for export abroad. These (so the thinking goes) would have been produced first; to be shipped abroad.

For the HoME this seems a mute point as the impressions were of such small number; and exportation abroad in the 80's and 90's would have been by air; thus relegating the idea that 'export' copies would have been physically produced first, to the bin.

Either way some people want un-priced HoME copies as they see these copies as the first state. Some regard these un-priced copies as potentially book club copies. How can anyone tell the difference? (You can't...) Collect what you want. Just be aware of the issue. And it would probably be an idea to keep your HoME collection consistent; one or the other - priced (domestic) or un-priced (export); not a muddle of both.

Additionally, BoLTs I & II, and Shaping have A&U price stickers. Many collectors like to see these present on the jackets. The lack of it may suggest an export copy; but equally the sticker could have come off, or have been removed.


As Deagol states - subjective.

ABEbooks, because of fees, is often very overpriced; certainly for the serious collector. But it might be an idea to have a look at the prices on ABE to see how much booksellers are selling them for.

Prices on Ebay are a bit variable. Here's my estimates based on auctions over the past 4-5 years (on Ebay).

BoLTs 1 & II: highly variable. With them being the oldest books, they tend to turn up in all sorts of condition (unlike some of the later volumes which usually turn up in VG - Fine condition). Expect to pay ~£40. Would try and get stickered copies for up to £50.

Lays: consistently sits under £40. Should be able to get a copy for between £20 - £30 no problem.

Shaping: like BoLTs - highly dependant on the presence or lack of price (and barcode) sticker(s). Like BoLTs should be able to pick up a copy for under £50.

Lost Road: again £30 - £40.

Return: probably comes up the least (esp. priced copies). Might have to pay a bit more to get a priced copy. But again under £50.

Treason: probably comes up the most on Ebay; prices reflect this. Aim to get a copy for under £30. Copies go for under £20 quite regularly.

War: like Sauron to come; seem to have been coming down and down in price. A couple of years back I'd have said expect to pay over £50 for an ideal copy. But now prices are regularly under £50. Many copies went in 2007 in the £20's.

Sauron: might aim for under £50. But prices are still sitting pretty much around £50 mark (between £50 - £60).

Morgoth: formally £100+. But now I think between £75 - £100. I wouldn't pay more than £100 at present.

Jewels: has been consistenly £100+. Very few copies (one or two) go for under triple figures. I think no more than £150. There have been many copies going for ~£120. So between £120 - £150 seems a sensible range to bid within.

Peoples: still very high. Very (very) few copies go for under £200. It went consistently between £200 - £300 last year. One copy went for £830!

These are just Ebay (auction) prices. Prices you might think representitive of the auction market. Their 'worth' or 'value' is something else entirely.

All 12 volumes now seem to list at £2000+. But very few appear (or are sold) on Ebay. The bidding usually peters out in the low four figues; usually with reserve not being met.

Hope this helps!

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