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By Jlong
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Another Tolkien eBay Letter

Nov 21, 2009
2009/11/21 18:31:52 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

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

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Nov 21, 2009
2009/11/21 20:40:25 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
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
Nov 21, 2009
2009/11/21 20:44:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
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.
Nov 22, 2009
2009/11/22 0:55:18 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
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."
Nov 22, 2009
2009/11/22 1:12:59 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
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.

Nov 22, 2009
2009/11/22 8:43:57 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
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.
Nov 26, 2009
2009/11/26 9:42:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Indeed, Findegil wins the Best Wedding Present Ever prize hands down. What a great story...

Dec 2, 2009
2009/12/2 9:33:30 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Hello all

Another signed item from the same seller - no doubt from same source
and guess what? Blue ink !
Again looks poor to me but posted here just so all aware ... tible?hash=item2ea98cc0e9
Dec 11, 2009
2009/12/11 6:17:45 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Found another one of those letters with a blue signature. Looks like the other "fakes" to me. ... p?SaleRef=0009&LotRef=450

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Dec 11, 2009
2009/12/11 10:18:25 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Hello all ... tible?hash=item439c045ad6

Here is yet another signed items from the same ebay seller highlighted previously- yes in blue ink.

My good nature is still trying to keep an open mind on these letters. I now see the seller has very kindly taken a photo of the watermark - the previous letters did not have the watermark?
Is the date bit looking right?

Any thoughts from you experts, not that i am thinking of bidding- just curoius i guess but they do look ot be getting better!
Dec 11, 2009
2009/12/11 13:31:40 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
And also from the same eBay seller is this allegedly autographed (in blue ink) Return of the King: ... tible?hash=item439c046fb1

The letter supposedly to Mrs Gasch (Pauline Baynes) fits into the known chronology (possibly thanks to Scull and Hammond, not what we meant to enable), but one has to wonder why Tolkien would twice misspell his publisher's name, why Tolkien would be acting as secretary or agent for Allen & Unwin when A&U always wrote this kind of letter themselves, why this should be a typed letter when all of Tolkien's known letters to Pauline (we've handled them) are manuscript, not to mention the usual problems of atypical typewriting, layout, etc., and the curious use of 'finalise' which we expect Tolkien would have considered substandard English.

Once again, it's interesting to look at the seller's other items offered on eBay. These include a questionable T.S. Eliot autograph in the Practical Cats and a tambourine, of all things, supposedly from T.E. Lawrence's home Clouds Hill and autographed by both Lawrence and Winston Churchill. Lots of blue ink, naturally.

Wayne and Christina
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