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Signed Smith of Wootton Major and the Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Signed Smith of Wootton Major and the Adventures of Tom Bombadil

Mar 28

What do you guys think of the authenticity of the following signatures present on the first edition of Smith of Wootton Major and the Adventures of Tom Bombadil? I believe they were once purchased from Bloomsbury Auction hosted in 2014 for 1,400 pound and 1,900 pound, respectively, but it is hard to tell because the listings are not shown on current website.

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookD ... 430&cm_sp=det-_-bsk-_-bdp
https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookD ... &cm_sp=detimg-_-bsk-_-bdp

If they are genuine, may I ask if you guys think the pricing is "fair" and is reasonable?
Currently, Smith of Wootton Major is listed for $7,824.28 and Tom Bombadil for $7,111.39.

Smith of Woottom Major is 1st edition, 1st impression, but unfortunately, Tom Bombadil is 1st edition, 2nd impression. I see on Sotheby's listing that 2nd impression Tom Bombadil inscribed by Tolkien sold for 5,000 pound, but it is unique in a sense that it was inscribed to his grandson Michael, which would add premium over just normal signature.

Lastly, which one would you buy if you guys had a chance? I am more crazy about Middle-Earth related books, so my heart is leaning toward Bombadil, but since it is not 1st impression, I am still pondering!

Thank you!

4684_5c9c7fae492af.jpg 2000X1500 px

4684_5c9c7fb728560.jpg 2000X1500 px
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Mar 28

Beren wrote:

Also I have another history with these two books then others (having been offered them multiple times in the past, for very low prices). They were never offered to me in combination with any background info... appeared to have no origin or any tale to come with them.


This is the more interesting and compelling information.

Like I said, total minefield -- which is why I steer well clear.
Mar 28
Here for reference some examples of 'quick' signatures in pen, from the same period:
http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/f/ ... bertson_28_April_1972.jpg
http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/2/ ... rchfield_11_June_1972.png
And these are both done quickly - but they flow naturally, they have all correct lines, breakpoints...
Mar 28
I respect Beren's opinion so it took some time for the analysis but I still think these are genuine.

I will side with Trotter, Aelfwine, and Stu on this one.
Mar 28

Lokki wrote:
I respect Beren's opinion so it took some time for the analysis but I still think these are genuine.

I will side with Trotter, Aelfwine, and Stu on this one.


I think the veracity of the provenance is going to be the deciding factor in these. That Beren had encountered them previously without the same story is worrying. To me, the signatures themselves still look OK, but I've always run on the assumption that fakery is pretty easy, so the story is often more important.
Mar 28

Stu wrote:

I think the veracity of the provenance is going to be the deciding factor in these. That Beren had encountered them previously without the same story is worrying. To me, the signatures themselves still look OK, but I've always run on the assumption that fakery is pretty easy, so the story is often more important.


Completely agree, provenance is very helpful. Analyzing signatures alone is quite a tough job.
Mar 28
For what it's worth, here's another picture of a T.B. signed book...

251_5c9d39151301c.jpg 768X413 px
This is very troubling.

Although there are some disagreements as to the authenticity of the stated signatures, would it be safe to assume that in the "general market," these will be deemed authentic since they have history of being sold on a major auction house that specializes in rare books (Bloomsbury)?
Mar 29

The_Antiquarian wrote:
This is very troubling.

Although there are some disagreements as to the authenticity of the stated signatures, would it be safe to assume that in the "general market," these will be deemed authentic since they have history of being sold on a major auction house that specializes in rare books (Bloomsbury)?


Probably not. Fakes do get sold at major auction houses, albeit not as often as through dealers and online auctions. Just wait for something where there is general consensus, I'd say. That Beren says he was previously offered them with no backstory is pretty damning, I think -- would you want to own something you always felt in the back of your mind, was fake?
Mar 29
Stu
You hit it on the head for me here.

Only buy something you are absolutely happy with, if not it will play on your mind forever.

I learnt from you guys - if in doubt put the wallet away. I openly admit to having been greedy and getting something cheap but then regretting it.

This said if you think these are good then go for it

Clear as mud
Mar 29
Been busy with a few other irons in the fire, so I didn't have a chance to chime in until now.

As most everyone who has responded so far has already stated - provenance is very important. Seeing the signature in person is also incredibly important - pictures on the web can be deceiving (intentionally or not).

For these two signatures that started the thread - they could be legitimate. I share Stu's concern about why they would be offered for sale (cheaply!) then suddenly have a long story of provenance and a high price to boot. I don't know if Beren can share additional details, but I would love to know - were they offered to him before or after the auction? I would assume before.
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