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'Black Sheep' Deluxe Editions

Jun 30
2020/6/30 16:15:49 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

I thought it'd be interesting to create a post about the 'black sheep' deluxe editions, or special releases that HarperCollins has published, from 2004 to...well, the future! The point is to make me an ongoing - when applicable - thread.

So, we're all familiar with HarperCollins' deluxe edition range which began in 2004, and is as of this post, continuing with the recent Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and a slipcased collector's edition of the Unfinished Tales 40th anniversary illustrated edition (due out in October.)

However, there have been a few books that, while not "deluxe" still bear traits from them. They also stick out (hence 'black sheep') in terms of primarily size dimensions, and some other factors.

Here are those editions:

The Hobbit illustrated Edition (2013 slipcased edition illustrated by Jemima Catlin)
Traits of a deluxe edition:
- is slipcased
- features a silk ribbon marker
Missing from usual deluxe editions:
- info sheet found at the back
- not of the same size dimensions

The Lord of the Rings (2014 60th Anniversary Illustrated by Alan Lee)
Traits of a deluxe edition:
- is slipcased
- has a silk ribbon marker
- has a (fold-out) frontispiece (all Alan Lee Lord of the Rings or The Fellowship of the Ring editions have always included a frontispiece)
Mission from usual deluxe editions:
- info sheet found at back - though for this one, the info is part of the slipcase
- not of the same size dimensions

The Hobbit Facsimile Edition (2016 slipcased edition)
Traits of a deluxe edition:
- is slipcased
- has an info sheet at the back (much like the usual deluxes do)
Missing from usual deluxe editions:
- silk ribbon marker
- not of the same size dimensions

Those are the only ones I can think of at this time.

The Unfinished Tales 40th anniversary illustrated edition slipcased edition as of now (and most likely will) matches the usual deluxe editions, however I'm guessing that the slipcase will be similar to the 2020 Hobbit + Lord of the Rings illustrated boxed set, and the slipcased limited edition of Alan Lee's Hobbit + Lord of the Rings sketchbooks.

4598_5efb6445823ab.jpg 900X1226 px

4598_5efb645aa1f84.jpg 377X451 px

4598_5efb647599d79.jpg 377X523 px
Jun 30
2020/6/30 19:14:42 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I'm not sure one can assume that the Unfinished Tales 40th Anniversary Illustrated edition will be in the same style as the other "Deluxe" editions. They've already released a Unfinished Tales deluxe edition in that style, and I'm not convinced HC would deem it worthwhile to add a second with the only difference being one's illustrated.

Arguments for it being in the same as the current Deluxe editions:
- Will be slipcased
- Will include a ribbon marker.

Arguments for it not being in the same as the current Deluxe editions:
- It's RRP is higher than the typical current "Deluxe" edition with only LotR having a RRP of £100.
- It's listed as a "Special" edition instead of a "Deluxe" edition.
- It's slipcase will be fully illustrated, which none of the others have had.
- Listing does not mention it being quarter-bound, as all of the others are.

I'd say at this point it's more likely to just be a "Special Edition" as in not the standard hardback, than to assume it'll be a "Deluxe" edition which HarperCollins has pretty much just been using for the current "Deluxe" styled editions (2017 "Deluxe" HoMe not withstanding).
Jun 30
2020/6/30 20:52:50 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Valid points, however, if you go by what Amazon says, then The Annotated Hobbit is a special release, as were some of the Great Tales. I'm sure other releases as well were called that by Amazon. Also, the standard edition is priced higher than a normal hardback is. I'm expecting the UT anniversary (for deluxe) to have an illustrated slipcase (more so than Sir Gawain and Letters From Father Christmas) and it'll be quarter-bound, have a ribbon marker, frontispiece of the cover standard edition, the whole nine yards that the usual titles have. I think the biggest difference will be the look of the slipcase, because, as you've mentioned, they already have an Unfinished Tales deluxe, so they're going to make differences between the two very obvious.

It might be splitting hairs, though The History of Middle-earth deluxe edition is VERY similar to the rest in the series, except they have a slightly different shape. Same measurements, and look of a deluxe, though.
Jun 30
2020/6/30 21:12:29 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Also, splitting hairs even FURTHER, one could consider the deluxes of Sir Gawain and Father Christmas to be 'black sheep' because their slipcases are decorated more than usual:

Sir Gawain:https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71Yy2FLFpQL.jpg

Father Christmas: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/519S8dCLF7L.jpg
and another view: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51pHmyrdpXL.jpg
Jul 1
2020/7/1 5:34:34 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
When it comes to the deluxe sets, for me...

Letters From Father Christmas and Sie Gawain & the Green Knight are the unicorns of the set - they’re that pretty.

The Story of Kullervo is the runt of the set for obvious reasons.

And as for the HoME books, as I’ve said several times before, I don’t even consider them part of this deluxe series.
Jul 1
2020/7/1 14:15:43 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
And, in regards to my earlier comments/original point I was trying to make in my post, is that the 3 I've showcased are obvious examples of a "deluxe, but not part of 'The Deluxe Lineup' releases".
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