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By CEB
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LotR First US Editions

Dec 23, 2021 (edited)
2021/12/23 18:06:37 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Hello, I'm a new member and glad to be able to share with you.

I have a set of the LotR which are first US editions. The RotK is a first printing so the year (1956) is listed on the title page. So, I want to know how to determine which printings my RotK and TT are. Below are photos of the first page having an Allen & Unwin logo circa 1917, a second page being the copyright page and a third page showing Printed in Great Britain.

Thanks for any ideas you have.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Dec 23, 2021 (edited)
2021/12/23 19:54:39 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
First of all, welcome to the site

Based off of these images I would say that your:

FOTR is a 3rd print Variant B as the half title page bears the Allen & Unwin device.
TT is a 3rd print Variant A as it has a regular title page.

These are just educated guesses though. Would need to see more images of the dust jackets for both and page 424 for FOTR in particular.

For FOTR The 3rd-9th impressions (1955-1960) lack any statement of year or impression number on their copyright page and for TT the 2nd-6th impressions (1955-1959) lack any statement of year or impression number on their copyright page.

Berelach has a page that can further assist with this https://www.tolkienbooks.us/lotr/us/hc
Dec 26, 2021
2021/12/26 16:21:54 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Great, thanks! Attached are pics of the two dust jackets. TT has a $5.00 cost in upper right corner. The FotR has no cost shown. Neither cover refers to a printing sequence.

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Dec 26, 2021 (edited)
2021/12/26 17:20:05 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
So, FOTR jacket on these wasn't priced until the 10th printing when the red text was changed to brown. Yours has the red text which most likely makes it a '50's edition. Also the picture of Tolkien on the back is trimmed with a shallow ‘v’ shape at the bottom, the 3rd - 7th prints have this.

As for the TT jacket, looks like (although I am not positive) the wrapper artwork is dark blue, After the 5th print the dust-jacket artwork was changed from dark blue to black and sometimes it's difficult to tell without having the book in hand. This would make it a 2nd-5th print. The price was 5$ until the 11th print.

In addition to Berelach's page Steve Frisby put together a very handy guide to help with identifying these books in Vol. 21 of The Tolkien Collector
Dec 26, 2021
2021/12/26 17:59:42 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Mr. Underhill, thanks so much for he info. This is the best input i've gotten to date. Yes the TT is a medium blue with a hint of green (probably faded to some degree).

I'm thinking of having them restored. What is your opinion of restoration?
Dec 26, 2021
2021/12/26 18:50:43 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Mr. Underhill wrote:

So, FOTR jacket on these wasn't priced until the 10th printing when the red text was changed to brown. Yours has the red text which most likely makes it a '50's edition. Also the picture of Tolkien on the back is trimmed with a shallow ‘v’ shape at the bottom, the 3rd - 7th prints have this.

Mr. Underhill
Where did you see that the shallow 'v' shape could be found on FotR jackets up to the 7th printing?
As of now, Berelach's website states this feature is to be found on 3rd and 4th printings. I think S. Frisby states the same (although I haven't checked my copy of the Tolkien Collector #20 for a while, and I'm in holidays at my parents).
But I managed to get a jacketed FotR 7th printing very recently (which seems to be really scarce with the light "navy blue" colour variant for the binding). What is interesting is the Tolkien's picture on the backside of the jacket also bears the 'v' shape.

Below is some pictures from my collection.
Fellowship of the Ring, 3rd printing, variant B (left) and the 7th printing (right).
Will receive a 12th printing in the coming days (with still red ink for the title, but black ink for the artwork (instead of dark brown). Will post pictures ASAP.

I have also added a comparison for The Two Towers between a 3rd impression variant A (left), with a dark blue ink colour used for the artwork and a 6th printing (black ink).

Lastly, a comparison for the Return of the King.
1st printing on the left with a dark grey background, 9th printing (actually the sixth) on the right, with a lighter grey used for the background.

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Dec 26, 2021
2021/12/26 19:10:58 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
You’re right about Frisby’s guide, although Tolkienbooks.us is less specific.

That light blue variant is cool, first one I’ve seen.

One of the FOTR that I have is by my reckoning a 7th print and it’s got the V cut.

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Dec 29, 2021
2021/12/29 23:12:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Mr. Underhill, sorry I forgot page 424 of the FotR. Here it is.

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Dec 30, 2021
2021/12/30 13:53:01 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

CEB wrote:

Mr. Underhill, sorry I forgot page 424 of the FotR. Here it is.

Yup, almost certain it's a 3rd print B state...
Dec 30, 2021
2021/12/30 13:57:24 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks so much for your input. Have a great new year.
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