Tolkien Collector's Guide
Number Line Question
By Karl

Number Line Question

Aug 6, 2014

I recently sold a copy of the 1998 First Edition Hardback of Roverandom (ISBN 0261103539) on Ebay. I described it as a first printing because it had the number line: 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2. I'm not a super experienced collector, but I was under the impression that this signified a first printing because of the 1. I know that most number lines go to 10 and are often in ascending or descending sequence, but I also know there are many variations among publishers. The reason I ask is that the buyer is convinced that it is not a first printing because of the absence of 10. He's insisting that a book with anything less than 10 numbers in the number line is not a first printing. This doesn't make sense to me when I look at another HC book with the number line 7 9 8 6. Why remove "10" and then 1-5? Perhaps I'm just too much of a novice. I don't have the Hammond Bibliography. Could someone enlighten me? Did I sell a first printing or not?
Aug 6, 2014
The same buyer also was also unconvinced about a copy of the 2012 HC Hobbit Collector's Edition that I sold him. I'm quite sure it's a first printing as later impressions have an indication beneath the "Collector's Edition published by..." line on the copyright page. Is this correct? Page is attached.

1020_53e254e1ab982.jpg 1200X1600 px
Aug 6, 2014
Both first printings. Your buyer is talking rot.
Aug 6, 2014
Agree with Deagol, both are firsts.
Aug 6, 2014
Deagol is correct.
Urulöké is correct.
You're correct.

Your buyer is talking mince!

BH
Aug 6, 2014
(edited)
And to add a fourth voice. It sounds to me like your buyer just wants the books for nothing. Unfortunately, given that eBay doesn't allow sellers to leave negative feedback against buyers, you don't know if he has been pulling this stunt with lots of sellers.

All that matters with the number line is the lowest number present. Without specific evidence to the contrary, if the "1" is present (in any position in the line), then that indicates it is the first printing *of that particular edition*. Given that Roverandom was first published in 1998, you are on pretty safe ground that there wasn't an earlier edition or printing of the book you sold.

http://www.tolkienbooks.net/php/details.php?reference=71470

(Of course, occasionally publishers screw up or do weird things. An example being the American editions of History of Middle-Earth where there are later printings with a full number-line, but with a different three letter code at the start of the line. Easy to spot, though - because the publisher changed from HM to HMH)

Where there is no number line at all, without specific evidence to the contrary, unless there is a statement of reprinting, it will be the first printing of that particular edition/version of the book. In the case of the 2012 HC Collector's edition, yours is - without question - the first printing of that edition. This should come as no surprise as they printed lots and lots of them as it was produced as a movie tie-in.

(Note that sometimes the statement of reprinting does get omitted - for example the later printing(s) of the 2004 HarperCollins Deluxe Hobbit break this rule. Then you need to look for other cues, such as who printed it or did the materials change subtly, etc).
Aug 7, 2014
Well...case closed. Rather than swallow his pride and enjoy his first editions (bought at rather reasonable prices), the buyer, aneythang55, decided to close the case and leave me poor feedback:

"Unable to resolve problems-sends site links rather than accept your disatisfact"

The link I sent him was to this forum (and some other reputable sites explaining number lines before that). Of course I had explained exactly what you all confirmed before that. To all this he said:

"I know what I know. There are many people in the world, and we can always find someone to agree with our point of view. 10 numbers is a full number line. That is that. Your book has 9 numbers on the line. I will not argue the issue any further."

Earlier he had sent me this gem:

"10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 (full print line) 10 9 8 7 6 (printing) 1 2 3 4 (sub 6) 2 6 5 9 10 1 3 4 7 8 10 9 8 7 (6- 10 = 4#s left on line) The print line is the first 10 #s regardless of order (see line 4). The print line is reduced by the # of the book’s printing. For example, 6th book print, the # line is reduced by the # of printings, 6th-10=-4(# left on the line). It is not the 6th print bec of the lowest #. THE ORDER OF THE #S DOES NOT MATTER. The print line is reduced by increments of one, as is the # number of printings. The first printing is A FULL #LINE. The Roverandom book has 9 #s left in the line. The book has had 1 printing. .. SUBTRACT 1 (first printing)-10= -9 or 9+1(1st printing)=10(full # line). Therefore, the 2nd print. Next subtract 2(there has been print 1 and Print 2) 2-10= -8(#s left) or 8+2 10 (full line) which make it the 3rd print. The 7th print, 7-10=-3 … 9th print, reduce the # line by 9. 9-10= -1. The 10th print, 10-10=0. The first 10 printings."

Such dazzling equations!

So Mr. aneythang55 unhappily has his first editions and I have my poor feedback. Perhaps I should have let him return them, but why should I have to pay even extra postage for selling EXACTLY what I described. Ah, Ebay...
Aug 7, 2014

Karl wrote:
Well...case closed. Rather than swallow his pride and enjoy his first editions (bought at rather reasonable prices), the buyer, aneythang55, decided to close the case and leave me poor feedback:

"Unable to resolve problems-sends site links rather than accept your disatisfact"

The link I sent him was to this forum (and some other reputable sites explaining number lines before that). Of course I had explained exactly what you all confirmed before that. To all this he said:

"I know what I know. There are many people in the world, and we can always find someone to agree with our point of view. 10 numbers is a full number line. That is that. Your book has 9 numbers on the line. I will not argue the issue any further."

Earlier he had sent me this gem:

"10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 (full print line) 10 9 8 7 6 (printing) 1 2 3 4 (sub 6) 2 6 5 9 10 1 3 4 7 8 10 9 8 7 (6- 10 = 4#s left on line) The print line is the first 10 #s regardless of order (see line 4). The print line is reduced by the # of the book’s printing. For example, 6th book print, the # line is reduced by the # of printings, 6th-10=-4(# left on the line). It is not the 6th print bec of the lowest #. THE ORDER OF THE #S DOES NOT MATTER. The print line is reduced by increments of one, as is the # number of printings. The first printing is A FULL #LINE. The Roverandom book has 9 #s left in the line. The book has had 1 printing. .. SUBTRACT 1 (first printing)-10= -9 or 9+1(1st printing)=10(full # line). Therefore, the 2nd print. Next subtract 2(there has been print 1 and Print 2) 2-10= -8(#s left) or 8+2 10 (full line) which make it the 3rd print. The 7th print, 7-10=-3 … 9th print, reduce the # line by 9. 9-10= -1. The 10th print, 10-10=0. The first 10 printings."

Such dazzling equations!

So Mr. aneythang55 unhappily has his first editions and I have my poor feedback. Perhaps I should have let him return them, but why should I have to pay even extra postage for selling EXACTLY what I described. Ah, Ebay...



People like him are entirely the reason that I just stick my spare books in a box and forget about them. Someone else can stick them on eBay along with all the others once I'm dead...
Aug 7, 2014
Or leave them under the seat of your car...

BH
Aug 8, 2014
(edited)

Khamûl wrote:
Or leave them under the seat of your car...

BH


Sadly, long gone are the days when I could take a couple of firsts of the Peoples of Middle-Earth out for a spin in the Lotus. It would have to be my wife's Mitsubishi Lancer these days. And it ain't a flash one :( :( Plus, I spilled a whole bottle of windscreen wash on the passenger seat a couple of weeks ago. Then I left the window open to air it. And it rained. A Lot.

Oh well, just need to sell the house (taking giant loss which will probably equal about ten 1937 Hobbits) and move back to Australia (which will cost at least 2 1937 Hobbits) where I can actually get a job (for half what I used to get paid) and all will be well with the world again. Kind of. I might be able to upgrade to a 1995 Hyundai then.... Actually, I'll probably have to live in the Hyundai (Note to self - get Hatchback).

Lesson 1: Never let wife make you move country "because she enjoyed it" when she worked there for six months as a relatively new graduate, so anywhere other than the NHS would have seemed great. Just say "NO!!!".
Lesson 2: When failing at lesson 1, definitely don't buy a house
Lesson 3: Especially not one built by Kiwis.
Lesson 4: When your wife tells you she will be able to get a job in the new destination, check she really can get a job in the new destination and won't have to work back where she just left and fly back and forward every two weeks. I wish I was joking.

Now I just need to find some 1937 Hobbits to sell on eBay. There must be some around here somewhere..

Sigh. Etc.
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