The Shaping of Middle-Earth
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Tolkien Collector's Guide
Nov 17
2021/11/17 2:51:01 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

ShadowFx wrote:

A simple comparison. some will buy a luxury car to drive from point A to point B. others a cheap vehicle to make the same trip. the difference, the comfort, ok ... the motor, the look ... ok ... but ultimately the journey remains the same. for the books it is the same, some will see no use in paying a ridiculous price for in the end ... the content remains the same. I see no point in having a luxury vehicle, but for the books yes. But if a seller decides to charge me a high price for an "ordinary vehicle" I will ask him why? is this a limited series? will my trip from A to B be more pleasant? in this case everything is a question of relativity, between entertainment, scarcity, collecting stuff and demand on the market. If today someone is willing to pay for "an ordinary vehicle" at the price of a "luxury vehicle" that s their problem, it will not be the first time that we have seen people get ripped off. So actually people will do what they want but if we can give them a tip in passing, it does not cost anything. Actually this boxset is too expensive...but yes, it will find a wallet willing to buy it. Nothing new under the sun.

For me the key is for people to be informed. Nothing wrong with paying over the odds for a thing -- but people ideally should do it knowingly, not because there are bunch of highly priced similar things on eBay. Particularly with Tolkien collecting, new collectors often are surprised that you can't just go out and buy what you want at a whim -- or at least if you do want to do that it will be very expensive. Some are happy to pay the premium for speed and that's fine, so long as they are informed that it may not be their only option.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 9:08:57 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

Stu wrote:

ShadowFx wrote:

A simple comparison. some will buy a luxury car to drive from point A to point B. others a cheap vehicle to make the same trip. the difference, the comfort, ok ... the motor, the look ... ok ... but ultimately the journey remains the same. for the books it is the same, some will see no use in paying a ridiculous price for in the end ... the content remains the same. I see no point in having a luxury vehicle, but for the books yes. But if a seller decides to charge me a high price for an "ordinary vehicle" I will ask him why? is this a limited series? will my trip from A to B be more pleasant? in this case everything is a question of relativity, between entertainment, scarcity, collecting stuff and demand on the market. If today someone is willing to pay for "an ordinary vehicle" at the price of a "luxury vehicle" that s their problem, it will not be the first time that we have seen people get ripped off. So actually people will do what they want but if we can give them a tip in passing, it does not cost anything. Actually this boxset is too expensive...but yes, it will find a wallet willing to buy it. Nothing new under the sun.

For me the key is for people to be informed. Nothing wrong with paying over the odds for a thing -- but people ideally should do it knowingly, not because there are bunch of highly priced similar things on eBay. Particularly with Tolkien collecting, new collectors often are surprised that you can't just go out and buy what you want at a whim -- or at least if you do want to do that it will be very expensive. Some are happy to pay the premium for speed and that's fine, so long as they are informed that it may not be their only option.

Totally agree. It is often a question of speed, wanting to quantitatively increase your collection inevitably leads to errors. And there is the concept of presentation, if you put a book on a beautiful display and tell you that it is very rare then there, the new collector will think that the price is justified. Everything is a story between justified the price of present desire and the price of logic
Nov 17
2021/11/17 9:25:15 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
There is accumulating and collecting. it is a big difference. the joy of collecting is taking the time to unearth during a lifetime and those no matter the depth of the wallet. for me, a person who decides to buy at a high price, does not collect, he accumulates.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 10:16:05 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

ShadowFx wrote:

There is accumulating and collecting. it is a big difference. the joy of collecting is taking the time to unearth during a lifetime and those no matter the depth of the wallet. for me, a person who decides to buy at a high price, does not collect, he accumulates.

I think the joy of collecting is about many things and that it is something different to each collector. I would be careful to think my way to collect or my reasons for collecting are somehow superior to someone elses. The joy of the long hunt is one aspect i think most of us appreciate, but far from the only one. I would certainly not call a person buying a first edition hobbit in 2021 (because he/she loves that particular edition above all books) someone who accumulates. Or if you pay 5 times as much for a fine 1983 GA&U 'The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays' in 2021 compared to what you would pay in 2010.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 10:39:04 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

northman wrote:

ShadowFx wrote:

There is accumulating and collecting. it is a big difference. the joy of collecting is taking the time to unearth during a lifetime and those no matter the depth of the wallet. for me, a person who decides to buy at a high price, does not collect, he accumulates.

I think the joy of collecting is about many things and that it is something different to each collector. I would be careful to think my way to collect or my reasons for collecting are somehow superior to someone elses. The joy of the long hunt is one aspect i think most of us appreciate, but far from the only one. I would certainly not call a person buying a first edition hobbit in 2021 (because he/she loves that particular edition above all books) someone who accumulates. Or if you pay 5 times as much for a fine 1983 GA&U 'The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays' in 2021 compared to what you would pay in 2010.

Obviously when I talk about paying a high price, I'm not talking about the fact that a book increases in value or that an edition becomes difficult to find which would legitimize its price. I am talking about buying high priced books which do not have the status of scarcity and which with patience can be found at more affordable prices. But I am very aware that there is not just one way to collect, but my opinion remains fixed regarding accumulating "at all costs"
Nov 17
2021/11/17 11:20:04 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

ShadowFx wrote:


Obviously when I talk about paying a high price, I'm not talking about the fact that a book increases in value or that an edition becomes difficult to find which would legitimize its price. I am talking about buying high priced books which do not have the status of scarcity and which with patience can be found at more affordable prices. But I am very aware that there is not just one way to collect, but my opinion remains fixed regarding accumulating "at all costs"

Isn't that a very marginal phenomenon though? I would think when we see someone overpay grossly that is usually just lack of knowledge and not a careless deep-pocketed MO. Maybe I am naïve.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 19:09:38 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I'm not sure I agree with the difference between "collecting" and "accumulating". If I was to try and decide whether it was one or the other, I'd consider "completist collecting", where one buys a thing irrespective of whether the thing is actually good to be on the accumulating end of the spectrum. Equally, I don't (generally) do that and I'd still consider my collection to be an accumulation of stuff. Some poor bastard is going to have to get rid of it all....

For me, the process of finding things has been as much the fun as the end result, so the "at all costs" mentality would take away from that. Equally, what is "at all costs" for one person is "chump change" for the next. Horses for courses - people should do what makes them happy. All I feel any obligation to do is to try and protect new collectors from the sharks in the Tolkien world. We all know who they are.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 20:42:17 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
As a newcomer into this Tolkien's books collecting world, here're my question/point of view.

How do you determine the monetary value of a book that's out of print and cannot be recovered by ordering it into a bookshop? For instance, I recently bought on Ebay the Complete Guide by Robert Foster. I bought it for the pictures of Nasmith and for the fact that it's the hardcover edition, because it's more luxurious. I paid 90£ for the volume, but who can determine if I spent too much, the correct amount, or if I struck a bargain? Is there an objective scale that can determine a just amout for a this book? Some of you paid 50£, and maybe that's the just price, or they just got lucky and struck a deal.
I based my judgment on what a couple of you said, that 100£+ for this edition it's too much, and I went for it. This because as a newcomer, after have taken a look on various sites, and finding no other copy around nor a record of prices (if there is such a thing), I had no practical way of telling if the price that I was going to pay was the fair amout, or if I was being fooled, so I based my judgement on your experiences and expertise.
In my current financial situation, spending 130€ (book price, VAT and shipping) is a lot, but I was very happy with my purchase, because it was what I wanted and I could afford it. Could I have waited a longer time, analizing the market and take record of the prices for a better deal? Of course, but on that moment I felt ok spending that money, and I think this is the important thing, in my view. Obviously, I would have been happier to pay just 50£, but it was not the case in that situation.
I think that the value of a book in this case, is based on a personal level, where you have to manage your passions plus the financial situation and make an objective valutation. Also doing a research online and ask to more experienced people helps a lot.


I hope I made myself clear, English isn't my first language as you can tell. =)
Nov 17
2021/11/17 21:12:30 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

elenneth wrote:

As a newcomer into this Tolkien's books collecting world, here're my question/point of view.

How do you determine the monetary value of a book that's out of print and cannot be recovered by ordering it into a bookshop? For instance, I recently bought on Ebay the Complete Guide by Robert Foster. I bought it for the pictures of Nasmith and for the fact that it's the hardcover edition, because it's more luxurious. I paid 90£ for the volume, but who can determine if I spent too much, the correct amount, or if I struck a bargain? Is there an objective scale that can determine a just amout for a this book? Some of you paid 50£, and maybe that's the just price, or they just got lucky and struck a deal.
I based my judgment on what a couple of you said, that 100£+ for this edition it's too much, and I went for it. This because as a newcomer, after have taken a look on various sites, and finding no other copy around nor a record of prices (if there is such a thing), I had no practical way of telling if the price that I was going to pay was the fair amout, or if I was being fooled, so I based my judgement on your experiences and expertise.
In my current financial situation, spending 130€ (book price, VAT and shipping) is a lot, but I was very happy with my purchase, because it was what I wanted and I could afford it. Could I have waited a longer time, analizing the market and take record of the prices for a better deal? Of course, but on that moment I felt ok spending that money, and I think this is the important thing, in my view. Obviously, I would have been happier to pay just 50£, but it was not the case in that situation.
I think that the value of a book in this case, is based on a personal level, where you have to manage your passions plus the financial situation and make an objective valutation. Also doing a research online and ask to more experienced people helps a lot.


I hope I made myself clear, English isn't my first language as you can tell. =)


The monetary value of a book can't really be determined by anything other than recent prior sales, but that information is often not available or is obfuscated (ot there simply haven't been any). At the moment it is particularly difficult because sales from a year ago have no bearing on sales today. History tends to warn us that rapid booms tend to have equally rapid busts some time later, but there is no guarantee that is what will happen this time.

Unfortunately there is no magic other than paying a price that you are happy with the book, rather than retaining the money to use later or for something else. Personally I always assume anything I add to my collection will have no future value, so it just comes down to "is that book worth X hours of my time?". For me, £50 for the Complete Guide likely would be, £100 probably wouldn't be as I have no doubt I'd pick on up for £50 at some future point.

People really just need to do what makes them happy and use sensible judgement. Very very few Tolkien books are rare.
Nov 17
2021/11/17 22:07:13 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
The problem here is this incredibly short-term view of acquisition. What is the problem waiting for a better/cheaper copy to surface at a later date? I just take no pleasure at all in overspending on books; the fun is in the chase for most copies, other than the truley scarce/rare. Of course, there is always the fear that if you don't buy now it'll be even more expensive at some future point; but that is unlikely to ever be true for run of the mill HC junk. These books are kicking around in the (often tens of) thousands. Why would they just disappear?

A perfect (old) example is The Silmarillion. Yes, there are more desirable variants & there is also condition to consider. But 1977 copies are ten-a-penny. There are literally dozens of 1977 copies coming to the market every day. There were hundreds of thousands of these printed. So why on earth are people bidding against each other on 7-day auctions with bidding in the £50+ range? This is like going to the garage and buying petrol at 5-10 times the normal price, just because. That's totally dumb. And lazy.

Unlike Stu, I actually do have the confidence that I could shift most of my collectable copies for the price I paid. With inflation, is that a loss? Probably, but they're not worthless. And, of course, they mean more to me than any monetary value; since I derive great pleaasure in spending my spare time studying & understanding printing, publishing, bookbinding, etc. In this respect, it's like any other hobby. It costs money, but what hobby doesn't?

However, spending £100 a pop for this & that 1990's HC Hb etc. Naw, that's not value for money for me. Neither as a hobby or as book collecting. I honestly think that's quite careless. But if you have that kind of money to throw around, batter on...
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