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Another Tolkien eBay Letter
By Jlong
Home away from home

Another Tolkien eBay Letter

Nov 21, 2009

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

251_4b0831ecde56b.jpg 372X498 px
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Dec 11, 2009
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
Dec 11, 2009
The watermark looks wrong as well to me in the final picture.

According to this article ... erbrandsdouble%20page.pdf

on the Conqueror web site, up until 1970 the watermark had the tower and the words Conqueror and London. London was dropped in 1970, so this paper looks like it may have been made after 1970. The letter is dated 1962.
Dec 11, 2009
One correction to our post this morning: after checking our Pauline Baynes correspondence files, we find that Tolkien sent her at least two typewritten letters. However, the typewriter font, manner of typing, etc. of those certainly genuine letters are distinctly different from the characteristics of the one offered on eBay.

Christina has spent part of the day looking closely at the chronology of the Tolkien-Baynes-Allen & Unwin exchange in 1962, about which we'll have more to say this evening.

Dec 11, 2009
I still have yet to hear of a valid provenance for any of these letters or signed books...
Dec 12, 2009
Here is Christina's breakdown of the relevant chronology:

1 August 1962: Tolkien writes to Pauline Baynes (Mrs Gasch) about changes he has made to the poems for the Adventures of Tom Bombadil book. On the same date, Allen & Unwin write to Pauline that they are delighted with her drawings done to date, and that Rayner Unwin will show them to Tolkien in Oxford the next day.

2 August: Rayner's visit takes place.

3 August: Tolkien writes to Pauline expressing his own pleasure at the drawings. Also on 3 August, Rayner writes to Tolkien with details about Pauline's schedule for completing the illustrations, and asks Tolkien to lunch with him and his father in London, suggesting that this be on either 22 August or 5 September.

7 August: Allen & Unwin write to Pauline about a mock-up for the book.

9 August: Tolkien writes to Rayner, agreeing on a visit to London on 22 August. He has written to Pauline, and today receives a reply from her that she is proceeding enthusiastically with her work.

10 August: Allen & Unwin thank Pauline for sending more illustrations.

22 August: Tolkien visits Allen & Unwin in London, and sees Pauline's full-page illustrations for the book.

27 August: Rayner sends Tolkien the full-page illustrations.

29 August: Tolkien writes to Rayner, commenting on the illustrations.

22 November: The Bombadil book is published.

23 December: Tolkien writes to Pauline, commenting on the reception of the Bombadil book.

From this and other correspondence in our records, from the Tolkien, Baynes, and Allen & Unwin archives, it's clear that:

Allen & Unwin, not Tolkien, handled the business end of the Bombadil book. The publisher originated the commission, indicated which illustrations were needed, agreed on remuneration, and showed the finished art to the author. Rayner Unwin would not have engaged Tolkien to write to Pauline on Allen & Unwin's behalf.

There were no arrangements to be 'finalised' between artist, publisher, and author. Everything was working to schedule, and the illustrations were proving entirely satisfactory.

Since Rayner Unwin on 3 August suggested 22 August for meeting Tolkien in London, and the latter agreed to this on 9 August, Tolkien hardly would have tried on 5 August to arrange, on Rayner's behalf, a three-way meeting in Oxford on 25 August.

Apart from the purported letter on eBay, no other document refers to a suggested or scheduled meeting on 25 August.

Good for Trotter in pointing out the watermark problem. To this we would add that the embossed stamp on the eBay lot is entirely different in lettering and arrangement from one on an undoubtedly genuine Tolkien letter of 16 August 1962 -- unless one wishes to suggest that Tolkien had two separate Sandfield Road address stamps and that were in more or less simultaneous use.

It's amazing that these similar letters, among which the somewhat generic but equally questionable one to 'Mrs Wilding' must be counted, have been coming on the market now for more than a year. Beren once said in this forum that he was going to dig into the matter further: has he come up with anything?

Christina and Wayne
Dec 12, 2009
Great timeline Christina and Wayne
As I suspected!
I 100% agree with Jlong. Even with the facts aside this seller has never offered a half decent explanation as to how they came in possession of so many letters/items addressed to so many people.

The real disappointing thing for me is that people keep paying huge amounts of money for something which is clearly forged and I would concur that these are being produced by one person who is trickling them onto the market. Its happened before with other art/etc and it wouldnt suprise me if this is a similar scam driven by the huge amounts of money involved.

Rant over!

Look forward to more exciting items from this seller!
Dec 12, 2009
I don't think Tolkien would have mis-spelled Rayner Unwin's name - not once, but twice!
Dec 12, 2009
I'm still waiting for "collector" to resurface and tell us how we don't know what we are talking about and how "deep studies" have been done to authenticate these items.
Dec 17, 2009
We note that the auction of the 'letter to Mrs Gasch', supposed to end on 18 December, in fact ended early, with no bids, on the 13th.

Wayne and Christina
Dec 18, 2010
It is now listed on AbeBooks , it was sold recently on eBay from the vast cavorite51 estate of 'signed' items. ... rtby%3D1%26x%3D78%26y%3D9

I have emailed the seller to look at this thread and being a reputable dealer they have removed the letter from sale.
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