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By Jlong
Home away from home

Another Tolkien eBay Letter

21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 6:31:52 PM UTC

What do you guys think of this one? The ink is blue... ... tible?hash=item2ea94b4cdd

251_4b0831ecde56b.jpg 372X498 px
21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 6:36:02 PM UTC
There is also a signed Tolkien paperback by the same seller: ... tible?hash=item2ea94b50b8
21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 6:45:35 PM UTC
The letter is of the same rubbishy type that we've seen lately - not so sure about the book, but I wouldn't trust the signature unless I knew a lot more about the provenance.

I certainly won't be bidding for either item.
21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 6:59:41 PM UTC
It doesn't look right to me. The letter also doesn't seem to be in the style or manner of anything Tolkien would write. Personally, real or fake, I find this to be a very unattractive piece. The paper is very grubby, the signature is sloppy, and the content does not seem to have any relevance.

The paperback book, in my opinion, is an obvious fake and a disgrace.
21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 8:40:25 PM UTC
Like the "Higgins" letters and the one supposedly to Walter Hooper, we strongly doubt the authenticity of the one to "Chris". It does indeed have the same paper, signature, and so forth we've seen before. Just as the "Hooper" letter takes off from the published letter to Hooper of 22 November 1966 (Letters, p. 371), repeating or adapting certain key words, so the "Chris" letter proceeds from Tolkien's letter to Joy Hill of 12 December 1966 (also Letters, p. 371, immediately following the one to Hooper!): "impertinent" > "impertinence", "claim property in inventing proper names" > "claim legal sway over the invention of proper names", etc.

So, was this letter supposed to have been sent to Christopher Wiseman? or to Christopher Tolkien? In either case, it would not have been signed "J.R.R. Tolkien". Are we to believe that Tolkien, on 11 December (if we read the date correctly), sent "Chris" a copy of the papers from the "young ass", and then on the 12th sent the originals to Allen & Unwin with his letter to Joy Hill? (The enclosures consisted of a sketch of the plot and three sample chapters, plus a covering letter: see Chronology, p. 682.)

Also, the reproduction of the "Chris" letter is clear enough to compare its typewriter face against that of Tolkien letters in our files only a day apart, and it's obviously a different machine in use.

As for the Unwin Books Hobbit being offered by the same seller, it seems to us that the second (non-printed) signature was written as carefully as possible to match the printed signature, and therefore not by Tolkien himself. We have on our shelves an Unwin Books Hobbit (first printing) with an unquestionably genuine Tolkien signature under the printed one, and there are differences between the two such as naturally occur from signature to signature. Our copy had been autographed for Rayner Unwin, who gave it to us as a wedding present in 1994 with a note from Rayner laid in: "The book you know: the second signature is not a printing error -- or forgery!"

Wayne and Christina
21 Nov, 2009
2009-11-21 8:44:02 PM UTC
It seems sad to me that such items keep cropping up; an unknowing buyer will inevitably purchase them.

Tolkien did, in fact, write a lot of letters to fans and friends, but to me these items seem so unlike Tolkien, and to be frankly honest, quite pathetic. Of all the images of Tolkien letters I've managed to gather, blue ink is certainly less common in his letter writing. In addition, most of his letters written using blue ink are entirely handwritten. Also, the type of blue ink or perhaps it is the signature itself seems rather heavy-handed.

The paperback book seems even more dubious to me as Tolkien signed very few paperback copies.

I inquired about the provenance of these items; I'll post the response if the seller responds.
22 Nov, 2009
2009-11-22 12:55:18 AM UTC
Well, here is what the seller sent me:
"I purchased these items from and [sic] English dealer. I would suggest that you go to ABE Books and search under Tolkien signed for samples of Tolkien's signature. There are presently two letters listed from the same time period on his distinctive small pieces of paper for $3,500.00."
22 Nov, 2009
2009-11-22 1:12:59 AM UTC
Findegil - that's an excellent story, about Rayner Unwin.

Jlong - I suppose you could in turn suggest to the seller that he visits this site.

22 Nov, 2009
2009-11-22 8:43:57 AM UTC
A great story Findegil. I liked reading that more than the letter for sure.
I find it such a shame that items like this are around but guess thats what money does for you. I suspect all these letters come from the same source (Chris/Milford connection). No doubt more to follow. I asked question too, await answer with interest.
26 Nov, 2009
2009-11-26 9:42:44 AM UTC
Indeed, Findegil wins the Best Wedding Present Ever prize hands down. What a great story...

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