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The Hobbit is one of the most expensive first editions

J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 children’s story, The Hobbit, comes in second in a list of the most expensive first editions published in the 20th Century.

Compiled by London-based dealer Stanley Gibbons, the list is regarded as a key index in the collectibles market. Featuring the most expensive 30 first editions of the 20th Century, the value of the list has risen 398% in the last ten years and currently stands at £560,451 compared to a value of just £78,497 in 2000. 29 of the 30 books are works of fiction, whilst the value of many has been boosted by film adaptations.

The Hobbit, first published on 21 September 1937 with an initial print-run of 1,500 copies, comes in second on the list with a first edition achieving a value of £65,420. Its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, is placed sixth with a value of £20,000. The top-placed book was The Great Gatsby with a value of £246,636. Kate Heddle of Stanley Gibbons Investments said:

As an authority in the collectibles market, Stanley Gibbons aims to help guide and provide access for investors who are looking to diversify some of their wealth into alternative assets. While the index may cause households to start examining their collections, it is important to understand that in order to be investment grade these books must be of a certain condition, have the ‘dust jacket’ still intact and have a particular history and rarity associated with them. That said, they can give immense pride of ownership as well as strong capital growth potential. There is a book in everyone and this resonates with investors.

The top ten:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (£246,636)
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (£64,420)
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce (£24,557)
  4. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (£24,180)
  5. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway (£22,079)
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (£20,000)
  7. Prufrock and Other Observations by T.S. Eliot (£17,500)
  8. The Christopher Robin Books by A.A. Milne (£13,084)
  9. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (£10,370)
  10. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (£9,364)
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.