Tolkien Collector's Guide
Aug 2
2020/8/2 16:49:24 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Trotter wrote:

[Not sure why you are bringing up limited editions in this case?

Because they are authorized items that are guaranteed to have a real signature (the ones that have been signed, anyway...) just like in the past some editions were sold as new through retailers (that don't sell used books) that were marked as 'Signed by the Author' or 'Signed by the Illustrator.' Picking up a signed copy of The Hobbit Sketchbook from Blackwell's, one doesn't have any reason to doubt the signature. The Hobbit Sketchbook standard edition isn't limited, yet it's signature can be trusted.

I'm saying this to showcase examples in which signatures can't be doubted - just like if you get your book signed in realtime, and in real life. If someone actually met Christopher Tolkien, and he signed their copy of The Silmarillion right before their eyes, no reason to call the signature into question.

Some random 1940's copy of The Hobbit claiming to be signed by Tolkien, for example, I wouldn't trust.
Aug 2
2020/8/2 17:19:03 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
It boils down to this:

- I meet Christopher Tolkien in, let's say, 1979 - 1980. He signs my copy of The Silmarillion right before my eyes. Do I question it? No.

- there's a limited edition of a book, that, as part of the product description, states that it's limited to XX copies, and signed and numbered by ___. Do I question it? No.

- I'm at Blackwell's and visit their signed section. I see a copy of The Hobbit Sketchbook in there, with a sticker on the dustjacket that reads "Signed by the Author." Do I question it? No.

- I'm on ebay, a place where anyone can post anything. I see a copy of The Hobbit from the 1940s claiming to be signed by Tolkien. Do I question it? Most definitely.

That's the point that I was making a few times in this thread.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 3:45:15 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

insurrbution wrote:



- I'm on ebay, a place where anyone can post anything. I see a copy of The Hobbit from the 1940s claiming to be signed by Tolkien.

So if someone on eBay says my relative met Tolkien in the 1940's and he signed my Hobbit you would be happy with that, it is very unlikely that you be able to discuss this with the person who witnessed it being signed.

You also think any copies that someone has not witnessed being signed are probably fakes, which encompasses pretty much all Tolkien signed items around today.

In reality you have to look at provenance around signed items. Tolkien did go to Blackwell's in the 1940's but did not sign his books for them and they then put a nice sticker on them stating 'signed by the author'. He did not sign any limited editions.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 11:28:00 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Trotter wrote:



You also think any copies that someone has not witnessed being signed are probably fakes, which encompasses pretty much all Tolkien signed items around today.

In reality you have to look at provenance around signed items. Tolkien did go to Blackwell's in the 1940's but did not sign his books for them and they then put a nice sticker on them stating 'signed by the author'. He did not sign any limited editions.

I agree with Trotter. Furthermore, one source which has not been mentioned is old-established auction houses, such as Christie's and Sotheby's. As well as newer ones, such as Dominic Winters. Though there are the occasional hiccups, these auction houses may be relied on to get an item's provenance correct.

Am I right in thinking that a purchaser can get their money back if an item is later proven to be a wrong 'un?
Aug 3
2020/8/3 14:49:35 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Try to understand this, and don't think so literal. I KNOW there was no editions of The Hobbit from the 1940s that had a 'signed by the author' sticker on it.

I'm giving examples here, of what I would and wouldn't trust.

If most Tolkien signed items are like that Hobbit example, then I typically wouldn't trust ANY of them - aside from my examples that I laid out so many times. You just don't know what is fake and what is real. It's the Jesus Toast all over again, ya know?

If, say, my father met Tolkien and got some books signed by him than I'm more likely to trust it than JoeBlow123 on eBay with a signed item.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 14:51:10 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I'd trust something like Sotheby's over any eBay any day, for those types of items.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 15:17:55 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

insurrbution wrote:

Try to understand this, and don't think so literal.

No need to get snippy. We're engaging in the topic, and adding advice.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 15:25:53 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Apologies if I did, it just seemed like every comment I made was getting dissected, analyzed, and questioned.
Aug 3
2020/8/3 16:59:45 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

garm wrote:


Am I right in thinking that a purchaser can get their money back if an item is later proven to be a wrong 'un?

Yes you can with Auction Houses, eBay have convoluted terms to make out that they are not an Auction House, so no refunds from them or any attempt to stop wrong 'uns being sold
Aug 3
2020/8/3 17:09:18 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
insurrbution, I think everyone here is trying to help. We are a very "dissecting, analyzing and questioning" group of people and minutiae is our lifeblood.

In general - provenance is king. If the ownership of a book and how/when it got signed can be tracked and the various steps trusted, then the signature can be trusted.

Some things that do not, by themselves, confer "authenticity" to a signature:

  • A "signed by the author" sticker. Can be custom ordered from sticker manufacturers and slapped on any copy of a book. (This is not to say that a reputable bookstore would fake the signature and sticker! But literally the second that book walks out of the store with a happy purchaser, all provenance is lost and the next person who wants to buy that book only has the word of the random person they are talking to - a receipt is easy to come by or fake, a sticker is easy to come by or fake, etc.)


  • A "Certificate of Authenticity". Anyone can make one. A reputable seller will have a return policy with money back guarantee if an item is deemed fake or likely fake by a reputable third party. Most reputable auction houses and ABA/ABAA/ILAB booksellers have such a policy. It's one of the reasons these high end booksellers have higher prices - their knowledge, expertise, and reputation confer value.


I think, in summary, that this particular topic of yours is valuable and good to talk about, but that your posts insurrbution are coming across to many of us as a declaration that unless a signed item matches your personal trust requirements, they are not worth buying by anyone (a statement of fact that the signatures are not trustworthy), when in fact there are well known and respected methods of authenticating and trusting signatures that you do not personally hold to, but many of the rest of us do. Your personal limits of trust are fine for you! But you are coming across as telling the rest of us that we should also have your (extremely limited) levels of trust, which exclude 100% of all Tolkien signed books.
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