Tolkien Collector's Guide

Collecting for Profit

Jul 26
2020/7/26 17:37:29 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

This was posted on Facebook earlier in that day. I've never been too concerned with how rare a book is that I'm searching or looking for. I have found that price is not really connected with how rare a book is. I don't ever intend on selling my collection or to be able to retire because I sold it. I don't think there are too many Tolkien books that are super valuable at auction...perhaps only a first printing Hobbit or a first printing LOTR. (Of which I have neither)

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Jul 26
2020/7/26 19:08:17 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
It's a good job none of us here are planning on retiring on the sale of our collections.
Jul 26
2020/7/26 20:09:57 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
It would be a bad retirement plan :)
Jul 26
2020/7/26 20:34:28 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
When I buy a book I write down the money I spent on it as lost. It isn't to say it isn't possible to make a little money buying and selling Tolkien books through buying low/selling high, but as an investment they are casino-level gambling. There is a reason why book dealers often tell you "this will go up in value", yet are keen to move the item on quickly.

For me the pleasure is primarily in the chase to find things in nice condition and reasonably priced. Anything else is a bonus.

With regards to rarity, there are only a handful of really rare Tolkien items, I think. I'd personally buy such an item only if it was something that resonated with me, not just because it was rare.
Jul 27
2020/7/27 2:04:43 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I think Stu makes an excellent point - if rare books were such a good investment, there would be more rich booksellers in the world...
Jul 27
2020/7/27 12:30:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
In the literature of book-collecting, the classic essay on not collecting for profit is "Dollars and Cents", chapter 7 in A Primer of Book Collecting by John T. Winterich and David A. Randall (first published 1926, by Winterich alone; we have the third revised edition, 1966). "Unless a person feels a definite urge to collect books as books, he had better collect something else. He should not collect books as merchandise. There are so many less wieldy things to gamble with, and will be while Wall Street endures and fifty-two cards constitute a deck."
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