Tolkien Collector's Guide
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Aug 16, 2010
2010/8/16 18:49:43 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
So come on Trotter - which IS the best Super Deluxe you own?
Aug 16, 2010 (edited)
2010/8/16 18:53:29 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I think you will get a general agreement on this, the 1982 Super Deluxe Silmarillion, ideally signed, my copy is not signed, as an aside it is possible to have signed copies by Christopher Tolkien of all four Super Deluxe books(The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Children of Húrin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún).
Aug 16, 2010
2010/8/16 19:11:25 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Ha! Just as I am coming round to everyone's ideas, here is a book now worth £2000 approx? OK, I get the stuff about how limited it was (read the post on this forum from a year or so back), but still, how can anyone say CoH would not double in value in ten years, when you look at the Silmarillion Super Deluxe! BTW, a lovely looking book!
Aug 16, 2010
2010/8/16 21:50:51 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I think ultimately, as someone once said on this forum(?), a book is only worth how much someone is willing to pay for it.

I am a pretty avid Tolkien book collector myself, but I don't own any of the Super-deluxe editions, though may eventually in the future. Personally (with no offense to other collectors on this forum), if I'm going to spend that kind of money on a Tolkien book, I'd rather spend it on a book that was published in Tolkien's lifetime (1st/1st). That is not to say you shouldn't buy those books or they are not worth collecting.

In addition, I think as collectors we should not always (not that it is bad) focus purely on monetary value. For me, both the quality of an item and its rarity make it equally desirable, though not necessarily valuable. For example, I have a near fine copy of the American edition of SoWM; probably not worth a ton but it is both hard to come by (in this quality) and of superior quality.

Also, for me, one of the funnest parts of collecting is finding the deal. I know all of you have found those deals before, and would love to hear about your finds.

I knew a bookseller that once found a first edition, first printing of The Hobbit (American edition) with the dust jacket in very nice condition at a thrift store in the 1980s for something like a dollar. Now that's a deal.
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 8:05:57 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I have to agree with Jlong here. I don't think anyone should pay four figures (£ that is) for any post mortem book relating to Tolkien --why not just go out and buy a few genuine early impression of, for example, LotRs?

(Bruffyboy) CT never did any 'signings' (not really), and his signature can't possibly be getting rarer! Where are they going? If you mean it's harder to get a recent signature, then that too would be untrue --there are more CT signatures kicking about from recent times than ever: CoH launch bookplates, CoH Super Deluxe, S&G Super Deluxe --there's approx 1900 for you. His signature is not uncommon, and isn't going to become so I don't think.

Also, if you want to compare prices, you have to think about what, say, £100 was actually worth back in 1982 i.e. the price for the 1982 signed copies of the deluxe Silmarillion --inflation and all that. What would £100 of early 1980's UK money be equivalent to now? I'm not going to guess, but I would suggest many hundreds. That said, it sounds like the most elegant, well made of the Super Deluxe editions...

BH
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 10:26:15 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Fair point Khamul - I just read somewhere from HC that CT would not be doing any more signings. You are right, though, that there are a couple of thousand sigs out there at least.

I think a lot of the thing with ebay is that it just depends whether you can get two people battling it out at the same time. Interesting story for you: a couple of years back I sold the few Tolkien books I had when I thought we were moving abroad. There was nothing much there - the US Deluxe 50th anniversary edition LOTR, the Alan Lee illustrated Hobbit and LOTR single volume edition, the Ted Nasmith Silmarillion and (and here's the interesting bit), the single volume HOME part one of three (brown cover).

Anyway, I listed the whole lot for £100 twice and it didn't go, so I ended up breaking it into separate books. Well imagine my amazement when the HOME book went for £130 by itself. The point is that at that moment in time it was 'wanted' enough to be worth nearly four times what I paid for it brand new three years before. Bizarre! Anyway, the question is 'what made that book worth £130?' (It wasn't a first as I think they came out in 2000 and I bought mine new from play.com in Feb 2007).
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 10:46:23 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I take your point!

The real problem here is eBay. I'm not sure if there is any point in quoting freak prices & holding these up as examples of 'value' or 'worth'. Some eBay Tolkien stuff goes for nonsense money, and final auction price can be influenced by many different factors. You have to weigh these factors up in judging whether a price is typical or not. A lot of stuff went for higher prices when the films were current, since interest, and competition for items was higher. And, some bidders just seem to like other people to bid against. It reinforces their belief that the (current) price must reflect worth since someone is clearly biding this amount for it. As for that HoME, well, sometimes people have far too many books, and they just don't like buying lots for only one title. (As I often quote) ADCBooks sold a copy of PoME for £830, yet many full sets fail to realise reserve, with bidding often fizzling out with the price under £1000. How does this make sense?...

BH
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 11:13:19 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I'm following this discussion for some time now and I find it a strange discussion all together. Ebay is 'no' guideline to find any value... one day something will be sold, but stay unsold for the coming months. Sometimes items are in demand, sometimes they are not. The value of Tolkien books moves up and down as demand for particular books goes up or down. Ebay is a crazy place and strange things happen there.

Abebooks could be another source to find the value of a book, but you need to know the sellers, some list to sell fast, some list to wait for the one crazy person to come buy and spent the big bucks. My experience is that most abebooks tend to be too high.

I also strongly believe that the value of a book can be completely different depending on the person selling it. When you look at auctions for example, sotheby's tends to grab higher prices for items then smaller auction houses.

Specialized bookdealers like David Miller (and myself) manage to sell rare Tolkien books at prices (much) higher than abebook dealers. This is because we know who searches and have build up relations with collectors worldwide. At the other hand we sometimes drop in books at prices lower than abebooks dealers... especially the signed materials to lower the market price and keep collecting fun for everyone.

Now how do I stick a price on a book... like for example the super deluxe editions. First of all, you need to know if there is interest in a book (and that is easy for us to follow). So far I did not buy a single copy of the super deluxe Sigurd and Gudrun. There is no demand at all. I do however stock many copies of the Children of Hurin, all lower numbers, and have no intention to sell these for the next 10 years. As with the other Super Deluxe editions, this is about the time they need to create a demand. For example the Super Deluxe edition of The Silmarillion... any copy you offer me I can sell the next day. No problem there. That is what pushes up the price. High demand, higher value.

It has nothing to do with anything else really. The only true answer I read so far is that anything is only worth what one person is willing to pay for it. Only it has to be said, that also this is related to time. Today no one will pay 1000 Euro for a super deluxe Children of Hurin (however I sold 3 copies of the lowest numbers for exactly that amount already the last year), but maybe one day people will. Book dealing is a strange business there are days you can buy stuff real cheap and make some profit over time, sometimes you feel like buying something real cheap and in the end need to wait years and in the end loose money by selling it. What I have seen however is that most 'rare' books need at least 10 years before they suddenly resurface (and mostly come in groups).

The only advise I can give at the moment is that either you do like most collectors and house the books in a good place and treasure them and love them because you find them great and don't mind too much about the value.

Or you all try and sell them one day and make tons of profit, but you will need to know when to catch the train. It is logic to me that Andy managed to sell his PoMe for much more then many others; he has the true heart of a business man and knows to play the game of book dealing better then any other. Does it mean the value he managed to sell it for is now the current value? No, but it was when he sold it...
it is a complex question and as said above, it all depends on who is selling and timing is crucial.
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 11:29:52 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Fascinating stuff Beren - this is fast becoming a really interesting thread!

Your sales for 1000 Euros (all be it low numbers) are encouraging though.
Aug 17, 2010
2010/8/17 12:29:55 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Fascinating indeed Beren. However, I suspect you had your bookdealer hat on for most of that!

Look, you're perfectly correct about specialized book dealers like you, David, and Andy (--one would include Rene in this category too.) --but you guys (or you at least) are dealing at the very top of the market. You have lovely copies of many very fine items; most low print run deluxes, with some very rare & scarce stuff too. I'd trust your judgement on pricing these to sell, but listen, there is an enormous amount of Tolkien on somewhere like Abebooks with very little of it priced to sell.

I'm, to be honest, astounded that anyone would have paid you over £350 for CoH. Sorry, this is naive buying. Why would you be so lazy as to not buy direct from the publisher? Yes, on release, it was maximum purchase two per person, and they wouldn't ship to the US; but, come now, the argument about low numbers has been discussed here before.

Within living memory, for some of the older collectors here (myself not included), the book community held (I think, historically) fairly ambivalent views on these manufactured 'collectors' 'deluxe' editions; false, created, manufactured rarities . I think these same people must shake their heads at today’s low number chasers. This ultimately has very little relation to value, quality, rarity, or worth.

I don't particularly object to people having old sets of LotRs from the late fifties in decent nick, now finding they have books worth quite a bit of money. But it kind of annoys me that books which maybe will be worth a few quid in decades to come are already commanding the kind of prices you might imagine them going for in years to come.

I agree with everything else regarding selling; you know far about this than me. Timing is crucial, and some fairly simple practises in good accurate listings, being trustworthy, offering a superior buying experience (nothing specifically to do with book selling) etc etc --these would all seem to allow books to be sold for far higher prices, should that be your aim.

BH
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