If you rush down to the shops tomorrow morning – or Amazon this evening – you might just able to get some of these by Christmas Day on Friday. Failing that, there’s always some post-Christmas presents to oneself… or perhaps next year! In any case, here is my list of 10 of the best gifts out there, with a little something for everyone!
Surprisingly few people know about this little gem by Tolkien, but the Letters from Father Christmas is a cute festive treat. First published as The Father Christmas Letters in 1976, the letters were written and drawn by Tolkien to his own children in the 1920s and 30s and tell the reader all about Father Christmas’s adventures and his dealings with the North Polar Bear. This is great to be read to children and enjoyed as an adult.
“I will give you a name,” he said to it, “and I shall call you Sting.”
Bilbo’s sword is one of the most famous fictional swords in literature, and following the success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film trilogies you can now buy your own replica. A full metal replica might be a little costly, but it also lacks some of the authentic details in Tolkien’s descriptions: for £24 you can instead get a light-up version!
The Art of The Lord of the Rings (£25 RRP)
This book by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull needs very little introduction. Coming 4 years after The Art of The Hobbit, this large hardback book includes maps, pictures and sketches by J.R.R. Tolkien as he was going through the process of visually creating the Middle-earth we see in the finished The Lord of the Rings. The 200 images will be a treat for many, but particular attention needs to be drawn to Tolkien’s maps which reveal his creative thinking behind getting the geography of Middle-earth right.
Gollum Olympic t-shirt (c. £20)
A themed t-shirt can always be a bit of fun, and thanks to websites like TeeFury, QwerTree, RedBubble and Zazzle we’re able to find both the beautiful and the amusing from artists around the world. Some years ago the Society sold a t-shirt with the quote “Aragorn and Legolas went now with Éomer in the van” with a predictably amusing drawing. I found this particular t-shirt on RedBubble which shows that Gollum hasn’t quite understood the spirit of the Olympic Games.
Although Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings certainly captured the imaginations of cinema-goers in the 21st century, 20 years earlier the BBC had already made an adaptation of their own. Written by Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell, the 26-part adaptation was first heard on BBC Radio 4 in 1981 and features Ian Holm in the role of Frodo and Bill Nighy as Sam. The radio series has stood the test of time and continues to be hugely popular amongst Tolkien aficionados for its faithful approach to Tolkien’s text.
Tolkien Calendar 2016 (£10 RRP)
Tolkien calendars have now become an annual staple from the publishers HarperCollins, each year offering a delicious selection of artwork from well-known artists. This year’s doesn’t fail to deliver with artwork by the late Tove Jansson. Well-known to children the world over as the creator of The Moomins, Jansson also illustrated the Swedish edition of The Hobbit and it is a selection of those illustrations that feature in this year’s Tolkien calendar.
Tolkien Artwork (various)
Starting with the likes of Pauline Baynes and Tove Jansson, readers around the world have been captivated by artists’ imaginings of Middle-earth. Aside illustrated versions of the books featuring art from Jemima Catlin, John Howe, Alan Lee and Ted Nasmith, with thanks to the Internet (and particularly DeviantArt), we have now have a seemingly endless expanse of art for our perusal. The Tolkien Shop sells prints by the likes of Cor Block, Roger Garland, Donato Giancola, the Brother Hildebrandt, Tim Kirk, but many artists have branched out into selling their artwork directly.
The One Ring (c. £600)
The most expensive gift on the list, but the only one likely to grant dominance over all the free peoples of Middle-earth. Made by the same company that produced the Ring in The Lord of the Rings films, Jens Hansen can sell you an exact replica gold ring. I’d go for a version without any inscriptions or hallmarks: it only reveals markings when you place the Ring in fire.
The Hobbit Spineless Classics (£40 RRP)
An edition of The Hobbit you might not have: the entire book as a poster! Coming in at 700 x 1000mm (27 9/16 x 393/8 in) this beautiful depiction of The Hobbit could take pride of place on your living room wall. I have bought some of these as gifts in the past and they have always been gratefully received, especially when framed. A little warning, though: make sure you have enough wrapping paper!
Lego Orthanc (c. £250)
The Society happens to own this particular Lego set, and Oxonmoot attendees will be well aware how much I enjoy constructing it! With over two thousand pieces and standing at 2 feet tall, this will take you about a full day to construct by yourself (or a lot quicker if you tag team with a younger, more experienced, family member). When finished you’ll have a replica Orthanc, complete with light-up palantir and trap-door, with Saruman, Gandalf, Grima, Treebeard and a couple of orcs. Unfortunately, this set is no longer in production so the prices have shot up in the run up to Christmas, but if you hunt around you might get it for £250 (RRP was £170).
I myself received my first membership of the Society as a gift from a friend over 10 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. At this time of year we receive so many requests to sign up friends and relatives as members, we’ve created a dedicated gift membership page. I’ve spoken elsewhere of the benefits of joining the Tolkien Society, but as a reminder you get to join a worldwide fellowship of Tolkien aficionados, received our publications Amon Hen and Mallorn, and get a chance to meet others in your area. If you know someone that would appeal to, why not buy them gift membership!
Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.