First Edition Sets of Tolkien’s Middle Earth Epic Come For Sale

First Edition Sets of Tolkien’s Middle Earth Epic Come For Sale

A first edition of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, signed for the original owner by JRR Tolkien while the pair studied together at Oxford, comes to sale.

27 July 2022

Our August 23 Books and Maps sale includes not one but two first edition sets of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. One set, signed by JRR Tolkien is estimated at £6,000- 10,000, the other unsigned but in unread condition, is expected to bring £5,000-8,000.

Tolkien’s epic fantasy set in Middle earth began as a sequel to his 1937 children's book The Hobbit but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings was - for reasons of economics - published over the course of just over a year from 29 July 1954 to 20 October 1955 in three volumes titled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.


Signed first edition Tolkein

JRR TOLKIEN: Signed 1st. edns: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. £6,000-10,000


The trilogy has since been reprinted many times but the copies offered for sale from two different sources are all first editions printed during the relatively narrow 1954-55 window. 

The copy signed by the author has been well used, with occasional tears, small losses stains and tape repairs. The original owner’s father had been at Oxford at the same time as Tolkien and had asked him to sign them for him.

Another set of the three books, that comes from a private collection, does not have the allure of the author’s signature but these first edition, first impression copies retain all maps and all dust jackets with the price of 21 shillings unclipped. As a fine and unread set, they are exceptionally rare.

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