Tolkien Collector's Guide

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Rebinding Project needs advice from an expert!

Rebinding Project needs advice from an expert!

Aug 13

Hi, I first read the Hobbit and LOTR when I was 5, but I felt a real connection to it when I learned that my Grandfather bound Tolkien's personal copy of the Silmarillion. I am sure this means little to others, but it has inspired me to get on and do something I have been keen to for years but haven't known how to get started.

I want to bind my own collection of Tolkien books to my own spec, for my own pleasure, and should they come out nicely, something to pass to my son as and when.

To do this I need one of you fine ladies and gentlemen with more knowledge than I to help me collect a set of isbns for each of Tolkien's middle earth related books which fulfil the following criteria:

1. Are all the same size (The pages not the binding as I will be replacing that)
2. Are printed well on the nicest paper possible
3. Are illustrated if possible
4. Are not collectors items (everything is a collectors item if you try hard enough, but let's be reasonable about it - I'm not gonna rebind a first Ed copy of LOTR unless it is literally missing its original cover and even then I would find someone with more experience!)

In addition, I would prefer it if LotR was one volume and the history of middle earth was 3, but its not a deal breaker.

Its a big ask, and it's not something I can figure out without having physical access to a range of different printings, but I bet it is possible.

Thanks in advance, I really appreciate it.

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Aug 14
Remy that could turn out to be a fantastic guide for me if the actual copy he has proves ultimately elusive. My grandfather worked at William Clowes, I don't suppose you have any other details about this book do you?
Aug 14
Trotter / James

Additional photos attached (and of copyright page - it is a clowes printing).

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Aug 14

There is a possibility that Christopher got a number of these bound for friends (speculation) and maybe his own copy is identical. This is the only one I know of to date.
Aug 14
You just had to go & post pictures of it, didn't you?!
Aug 14
The illustrated LR, S and H editions are larger than the History of M-e volumes, so you won't be able to built a matching set size-wise.
Aug 14
Remy, this is just wonderful! My grandmother recalls him doing a small number for "Tolkien and his family or loved ones", I think it is highly likely that these photos show one of that batch as it doesn't seem to be bound like the first Ed copies were. There are two more features which my grandfather described to me many years ago when prompted by his wife (he was very careful to be humble to the point of others frustration)... That it was printed on the sort of paper you get in bibles (I forget the correct term) and that it was gold edged. This looks to meet those criteria.

Even looking at those photos brings a lump to my throat. I am under no illusions that I could ever own one of these but to have even seen the photo is really truly wonderful. I feel so blessed.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I now know how I will bind my collection, even if it takes me a decade of practice to be good enough to hold a candle to his work.
Aug 14
@deagol, good to know. I would be happy to ditch the illustrations if it meant that I could build a matching sized set.
Aug 14
The book in the photos is not printed on bible paper - it would be much thinner. Bible paper reduces LR to 1 inch thick. 1000 sets of sheets of the first edition were printed on higher quality paper than the trade edition. These were bound in red leather in 1982, but some could have been set aside for the family.

If you want all of the books to be matching size, you may be best going for current standard hardback editions and buy them in a bricks and mortar shop rather than online so you can check them against each other.
Aug 14
@Deagol Sure thing, I'm going by 40+ year old memories, and my own recollection of a conversation 20 years ago, so it wouldnt suprise me if that was simply wrong.

On balance I would say it is likely that this is the binding because of the date and the fact that it was gifted by Christopher Tolkien. Im open to being proven wrong though.

Re. Finding the right sizes, I'm gonna have to do that ultimately I think - it's tricky to find a shop with a wide enough range to encompass all the Tolkien middle earth works in a range of editions, but next time I'm in a large bookshop in a city I will give it a shot (:
Aug 15
That's very nice. If I was doing a custom binding of the Sil, I think I might well follow that pattern.
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