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Rare Hobbit sells for £137,000

Last month we reported about a rare edition of The Hobbit going under the hammer at Sotherby’s. This week it sold for a staggering £137,000 ($209,000; €188,000).

The first edition copy of Tolkien’s famous tale was dedicated to one of his students, Kitty Kilbride, and commanded such a high price due to the personal inscription and the subsequent four-line Old English verse. It was expected to sell for around £70,000 but doubled its estimated and, in the process, smashed the previous record for a copy of The Hobbit.

The inscription is similar to an Old English passage published in The Lost Road and Other Writings (see pp. 44 and 103). The first line of the inscription says, “Many things there be in the West-regions unknown to Men“. On the third line, the text diverges from that published in The Lost Road, but Professor Susan Irvine of UCL has translated it as follows:

There is many a thing in the West-regions unknown to Men
marvels and strange beings, a land fair and lovely
the homeland of the Elves   precious stones
shining secretly in mountain caves.

It is believed that this is the most expensive Tolkien book ever sold, and certainly the most expensive copy of The Hobbit. This exact same book had previously been sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $89,625 (£57,176) in 2002, but the previous record was for a copy of The Hobbit sold at Bonhams in March 2008 for £60,000 ($120,800). Currently held in the Greisinger Museum, this copy was dedicated to another former student, Elaine Griffiths, who encouraged Tolkien to get The Hobbit published.

Original story via BBC

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He chaired another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.