Tolkien Collector's Guide

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Letters From Father Christmas

Editions tabulated here:

  • The Father Christmas Letters, George Allen & Unwin, 1976.
  • Pages are not numbered in this volume. I counted page 1 as the verso of the title page (facing the "Introduction").
  • Father Christmas Letters, HarperCollins, 1994.
  • Three miniature books. Format of page references is A/B where "A" is the volume, and "B" is the page - again, pages are not numbered, so I counted page 1 as the verso of the title page (the first page with content). "FC" is the front cover, "RC" is the rear cover. "TP" is the title page, FP/RP are the front and rear pastedowns, respectively.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, Collins, 1995.
  • Edition with removable facsimile letters in envelopes. Pages again are not numbered in this edition. Page 1 is the "Introduction" page as the verso of the title page just has the copyright information on it. For the removable letters the numbering scheme is "L#" (letter number) and "L#v" (the verso of the letter) counting letters from the front of the book. Some minor art elements are not called out if they are duplicates of artwork that appear elsewhere in the book.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, HarperCollins, 1999.
  • This edition has many, many art elements and textual fragments reproduced all over the place as decorations, even behind the printed text. I have not documented those.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, HarperCollins, 2004.
  • I do not have this edition and have only documented art elements that appear in other references (especially The Tolkien Collector). Help in obtaining the edition or in documenting the page references would be lovely.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, HarperCollins, 2009.
  • I do not have this edition and have only documented art elements that appear in other references (especially The Tolkien Collector). Help in obtaining the edition or in documenting the page references would be lovely.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Title "Father Christmas" is written in Tolkien's (pretend) shaky handwriting. Later printings of this book have 2015 on the copyright page.
  • Letters from Father Christmas, HarperCollins, 2019.
  • I have documented the deluxe edition, but assume the trade edition has the same pagination.

Key to abbreviations

  • FC - Front Cover
  • FT - Facing Title
  • RC - Rear Cover
  • TP - Title Page

Each edition was reprinted (sometimes in paperback format, or by Houghton Mifflin in the USA, etc.) but each went out of print when the next edition came out. I have not tabulated those here as it should be straight-forward to match the reprints with the first printings they match with.

1920 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter, "I heard you ask Daddy what I was like...", 1 page 3 1/3 L1 8 7 8 8 12
Transcription 1/6 L1v 8 6 9 9 13
Art - "Me" and "My House" 3 1/5 4 9 7 7 7 11
Envelope "Mrs. Tolkien / & / Master John..." 3 6 RC 9 9 13
Stamp - red, "2" upper left, "Kisses" upper right, "North Pole Postage" on bottom 4 1/16 3 2 FT 9 9 13
1921 - No letter
1922 - No letter
1923 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter, 2 pages 13
15
9 12
13
12
13
16
Transcription 12
14
8 11 11 15
Envelope "DEC. 23 / 1923 / Master John Francis Tolkien... Leeds" 19 10 10 10 10 14
Stamp - blue border, north pole with red sun behind and second line of white mountains, "NORTH*POLE" top, "*POST*" bottom 4 3/2 19 2 FT 10 10 14
1924 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "John Francis with love from Father Christmas", 1 page 16 10 17 17 23
Transcription 16 10 16 16 22
Postscript from Great (Polar) Bear, "my stars" / "Inside you will find a magic wishing cracker...", 1 page 24
Transcription of Polar Bear postscript 25
Envelope to John 11 22
Stamp to John - purple, rainbow flame sun behind north pole, "N" "1924 X" "P" across bottom 4 11 22
Letter to Michael from Father Christmas, 1 page 16 10 14 14 18
Transcription 16 10 15 15 19
Postscript from Great (Polar) Bear "Fr Christmas was in great hurry...", 1 page
NOTE: until the 2019 edition, this postscript was assumed to be with the 1925 letter.
8 22 14 22 22 21
Transcription of Polar Bear postscript 20-
22
12-
14
23 23 20
Envelope to Michael 15 17 11 15 15 19
Envelope to Michael verso with commercial Father Christmas seal RC 1
Stamp to Michael - Light purple, red and yellow sun behind north pole, "North 1924 Pole" 1 15 3 11 15 15 19
1925 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter "My Dear Boys" Cliff House Xmas 1925, 1 page L2 21 13 18 18 26
Transcription 5 1/8-
1/14
L2v 20 12 19 19 27
Art - North Pole snapped, Father Christmas fishing? 6 1/11
1/15
5
9
23 15 20 20 29
verso of art - "To John and Michael Tolkien" 28
Envelope (with holly twig lower left) 5 39 18 RC 19 19 30
Stamp - "North 2 Pole" on bottom, red sun white star crescent moon above north pole 5 1/7 39 3 TP 19 19 30
1926 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter, 2 pages L3 27
28
17
18
25
26
25
26
33
37
Transcription 8 1/16-
1/22
L3v 26-
28
16 24-
28
24 32
Art - Northern Lights (Auroro Borealis) / Sleigh crash / "1926" in stars 7
8
1/17-
1/18
1/19
10
16
29 19 29 29 34
Art verso - Love from Father Christmas 1926 35
Envelope - black with white ink "by Southern Post" 31 24 RC 27 27 36
Stamp - Santa looking right, moon on left, tree on right "2 North-Pole 2" on bottom 1 1/4 31 2 FT 27 27 36
1927 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter, 2 pages 35 23 33 30
33
40
43
Transcription 9 1/23-
1/28
32-
34
20-
22
30-
35
31 39
Art - white on black North Pole, shooting star, house on hill 10 1/25-
1/26
13 32 20 34 35 45
Envelope front - black with white ink, "Reindeer Post" 30 RC 31 31 39
Envelope back - black with white ink, "Very Sorry" note 30 44
Stamp A - black with white ink, reindeer and two stars, "R" upper left, "P" upper right 9 30 RC 31 31 39
Stamp B - black with white ink, north pole with big dipper to left 9 2 FT 31 31 39
1928 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "Another Christmas and I am another year older...", 2 pages 11 2/1 L4 39 27 37 38
42
48
51
Transcription 11 2/2-
2/6
L4v 36-
40
24-
26
36-
41
37 47
Art - Polar Bear falls down the stairs / smiling moon over north pole 12 2/3
2/4-
2/5
14
17
41 29 38 41 52
Envelope 37 47
Boxing Day Note 43 42 44 54
Transcription of Boxing Day note 42 28 43 45 55
1929 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "Nov 1929" from Polar Bear, 2 pages 47 31 45 47 56
58
Transcription "Nov 1929" 13 46 30 44 46 56
Envelope "BOYS AT 22 NORTHMOOR RD" from Polar Bear 57
Letter - "Xmas 1929", "It is a light Christmas again...", 3 pages 48
51
55
60
65
64
Transcription "Xmas 1929" 13 2/8-
2/13
48-
51
32-
35
47-
51
49 59
Art - Father Christmas in sleigh above sea and clouds 51 35 50 54 67
Art - Father Christmas and Polar Bear in office / bonfire and fireworks / window opening 14 2/9
2/12
2/13
18
20
49 33 49 52 62
Envelope "J.&M.&C.&P. Tolkien" 6 44 RC 46 49 59
Stamp A - "2" in diamond with holly in corners 13 6 2 FT 46 49 59
Stamp B - "sun and tree" in holly border 13 2/7 6 2 TP 46 49 59
1930 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter "Nov 28th 1930" "Fr. Christmas has got all your letters!", 1 page 54 36 52 56 68
Transcription "Nov 28th" Letter 54 36 53 57 69
Nov Letter verso - "J. & M. & C. Tolkien By messenger" with wax seal 52 52 56 68
Letter "20 and 24 December" "I have enjoyed all your letters...", 2 pages L5 59
62
71
74
Transcription 15-
16
2/13-
2/25
L5v 56-
57
38-
39
54-
57
58 70
Art - PB recovery party / FC and PB in snow & PB bath / cracker pull "PB recovers!" 16 2/19-
2/24
21 55 37 55 60 72
1931 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter "October 31" "Already have I got some letters from you!", 2 pages 61
63
41 58
60
64
66
76
78
Transcription 601
62
40-
41
59 65 77
Envelope 31 Oct with wax seal 77
Letter "23 December" "I hope you will like the little things I have sent you", 2 pages L6 65
67
43
45
63
64
69
70
83
84
Transcription 18-
20
L6v 64
66
42-
44
61-
70
67 80
Art - Father Christmas "My latest portrait" 17 3/FC TP 60 40 62 68 82
Art - Pencil sketch of FC in sleigh 62 70 76 89
Art - Polar Bear self-portrait "1931-1932" / Love from Karhv / "this is all drawn by..." 19
20
24 68 46 67 73 87
Art - "cracker accident" / Father Christmas making a pastry 18 22
25
69 47 68 74 88
Envelope 23 December - "I am so / sorry I for / got to post..." upper right 58 61 67 80
1932 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "30 November" "Thank you for your nice letters", 1 page 73 49 72 78 91
Transcription 72 48 71-
73
77 90
Envelope - November "M. C & P Tolkien" "CHIM / NEY / POST" ("rather plain")
NOTE: Until the 2019 edition, this envelope was assumed to be from circa 1937
121 87 94
149
Letter - "23 December" "There is a lot to tell you", 5 pages 4 80
83
87
91
96
95
97
101
105
109
Transcription 22-
25
74-
83
50-
59
74-
86
81 93
Art - "1932", FC over Oxford, polar landscape, caves, party, "A Merry Christmas" 4
21
2/25-
2/26
2
26
41
75 51 77 84 98
Art - Cave paintings 24 77 53 81 88 102
Art - Goblin alphabet letter 44 80 56 84 95 110
Envelope - December - "by gnome carrier" - small wax seal 25 70 RC 71 77 92
1933 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter "2 December" "Very cold here at last", 2 pages 98 112
Transcription "2 December" 86 60 87 99 113
Envelope - "By hand" "M.&Ch.&P. Tolkien" 99 113
Letter - "Another Christmas! and I almost thought...", 3 pages 1
28
L7 103
105
106
117
119
120
Transcription 27-
28
L7v 87-
88
61-
62
88-
93
101 115
Art - Red "F.C" banner / Polar bear fighting goblins / color polar landscape / FC in bed / "Christmas 1933" 26
27
28
2/RC 28
29
30
89 63 92 109 123
verso of Polar bear fighting goblins etc. "Love from Fr. Christmas 1933" 122
Art - Night sky with earth, moon and planets RP 156 111 159 192 208
Envelope "Dec 22" "To The Tolkiens" 2 35 84 89 102 115
Stamp - blue/white - north pole with star in upper right, "1933 X" at bottom 2 35 2 FT 89 102 115
1934 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
September letter to Christopher - "Thank you! I am awake...", 2 pages 111 125
Transcription 92 64 94 110 124
Notecard from Polar Bear - "Many Happy Returns of the Day", Nov 20 1934, 1 page 124
Xmas letter to Christopher - "Thank you very much for your many letters...", 2 pages 113
116
128
132
Transcription of Christopher letter 29 93-
94
65-
66
95-
99
112 127
Letter to Priscilla - "Thank you for nice letters", 1 page, envelope mostly obscured (red star upper left corner) 119 135
Transcription of Priscilla Christmas Eve letter 118 134
Art - Christmas tree in ice pool 30 3/1 L8 95 67 96 114 130
Envelope to Christopher - "on sleigh" handmark, 1934 in circle 90 95 112 127
1935 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "Here we are again...", 4 pages 99
101
103
105
69
71
73
75
102
103
105
106
122
123
125
126
138
139
141
142
Transcription 31
32
98-
104
68-
74
100-
107
120 136
Art (from letter) 31
32
32
33
99
101
103
105
69
71
73
75
102
103
105
106
122
123
125
126
138
139
141
142
Envelope - "Master C & Miss P. Tolkien", N 36 P cancel. 23 96 RC 101 121 137
Stamp - North pole with four layers of mountains behind, aurora above semicircle in sky, no text 23 96 101 121 137
1936 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter Dec 23rd - "I am sorry I cannot send you a long letter...", 2 pages RC 109 77 108 128
132
144
146
Transcription - Dec 23rd Letter 33 108-
110
76-
78
109-
112
129 145
Letter - "I have found it" from Polar Bear, 1 page 112 80 113 134 150
Transcription - Polar Bear letter 112 78-
80
112-
114
133 149
Letter - Father Christmas wishlist (crossed out) and note from Polar Bear Nov 2 1936 152
Transcription - Father Christmas List and note Nov 2 1936 153
Art - polar landscape / Polar Bear in bath / water leak on FC / PB teaching class / "A Merry Christmas" 34 L9
36
37
111 79 111 131 147
Art - Goblin Alphabet key 43 113 81 115 135 151
Envelope Dec 23rd - "Christopher and Priscilla", "By Elf Messenger", "Haste" in circle at top 27 106 110 130 144
Envelope Nov 2nd 152
Art - "By Elf Messenger" (drawn on Dec 23rd envelope) 1 3/3 27 1 110 130 144
1937 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "My dear Christopher and Priscilla, and other old friends...", 3 pages L10
RC
123 137
138
143
155
156
161
Transcription 35-
37
3/4-
3/27
L10v 116-
120
82-
86
117-
122
136 154
Art - 9 square panels by Ilbereth 36 3/6-
3/26
38
40
117 83 119 141 159
Envelope - "NORTH *** POLE / XT ***** MAS / 1937" - with wax seal 37 3/28 114 TP 116 136 157
1938 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter, "My dear Priscilla and all others at you house...", 5 pages 38
39
40
127 91 126 147
151
152
157
158
165
169
170
175
176
Transcription 38-
40
124-
131
88-
95
124-
133
146 164
Letter to Priscilla - "This is the last Beatrix Potter painting book...", 1 page 161 179
Transcription of Priscilla Letter 160 178
Art (on verso of first page of letter) - "Setting Out" 40 1/RC FP 125 89 130 155 171
Envelope - "Late Messenger" on left, with wax seal 122 RC 125 148 166
1939 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "I am glad you managed to send me two letters...", 2 pages 163
165
181
183
Transcription 134 96 134-
136
162 180
Art - Father Christmas on the path to the sleigh-sheds 135 97 137 166 184
Envelope - "Priscilla Tolkien" "By hand with presents" upper right, wax seal lower right 132 135 164 182
1940 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Note - "2 am. Dec 13th" "Fr. Christ / Mas. Says / O.K. / yrs P.B.", 1 page 139 98 141 145 163
verso of note - "C.&P. Tolkien / Nos..." goes with Dec 13th note - wax seal 138 99 141 145 163
Letter from Polar Bear to Priscilla - 23 December, 1 page 168 186
Verso of Polar Bear letter - "MISS P.M.R.TOLKIEN" - two wax seals 168 186
Transcription of letter from Polar Bear - 23 December 138 98 139 169 187
Letter from Father Christmas - Christmas Eve "Just a short letter to wish you a very Happy Christmas", 2 pages 171
173
189
191
Transcription of letter from Father Christmas 140 100 140-
142
170 188
Art - Polar Bear dancing with penguins 12 141 101 142 173 191
Envelope - "Xmas 1940 / N.P." / "To Priscilla Mary R. Tolkien" 136 138 170 188
"Xmas 1940" Envelope verso - wax seal 140
1941 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "I am so glad you did not forget to write to me...", 3 pages 142 145
146
149
175
176
179
193
194
197
Transcription 41-
42
142-
145
102-
105
143-
150
174 192
Note From P.B to B.B [Billy Bear], 1 page 199
Transcription of note to BB 151 109 154 199
1942 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - Christmas Eve 1942 - "P.B. Tells me that he cannot find my letter from you...", 2 pages 39 149
150
107
108
152
155
183
187
201
202
Transcription 41-
42
148
150
106-
109
151-
154
182 200
Envelope "XMAS 1942" in upper left, "Miss PMR Tolkien." centered 146 151 184 202
Envelope verso with seal 151 155 184 202
1943 A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Letter - "A very happy Christmas!", 2 pages 188
191
204
207
Transcription 41-
42
154 110 157-
158
189 205
Envelope - "Miss Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien" 152 156 206
Envelope verso with three seals 155
Undated A
76
B
94
C
95
D
99
E
04
F
09
G
12
H
19
Two page manuscript description of Father Christmas history in the Tolkien family 6
7
Last modified: 05/24/20 by Trotter
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