The Lord of the Rings, 1st Impressions, with custom fine bindings in clamshell box.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Published by George Allen and Unwin, 1954/54/55.
The Fellowship of the Ring, 1st impression published July 29th, 1954. Total print run US & UK, 3000.
The Two Towers, 1st impression published November 11th, 1954. Total print run US & UK, 3250.
The Return of the King, 1st impression published October 20th, 1955. Total print run US & UK, 7000.
All original maps are present and in Near Fine condition, no tears or extra folds. Each volume starting with the half title leaf after the front free end papers, followed by the title leaves.
An extraordinary set of first editions of this classic of fantasy literature.
The set is later bound in teracotta crushed morocco, all edges trimmed and gilt, with gilt stamped design of Tolkiens original line drawing «The Gates of Moria», divided between the spines of the three volumes. The set is further bound with marbled endpapers by Joan Ajala of Australia, red silk reading ribbons. The set is housed in a custom clamshell case in the same morocco leather. The front boards of the box and books depict Tengwar (Tolkien’s Elvish writing) titles and author, as well as Tolkien’s own Ring and Eye design from the original dustjackets. The rear of the case is gilt stamped with the Tengwar Rune Poem, from the original text. The rear of the books are gilt stamped with the JRRT monogram. The front boards of the books have the individual titles and author in Tengwar as well as the Ring and Eye design gilt stamped.
An attractive set. All very clean and bright, with a couple of small smudges on occasional page margins, no foxing, and none have any writing or signatures. A beautiful set, which incorporates all the artwork as designed by Tolkien himself.
NOTES TO «The Return of the King»:
The Return of the King is 1st impression, page 49 3rd State, with the signature mark ‘4’ and having the slipped/damaged type on page 49 [originally defined as the 1st State] and page 281 2nd State, with the closed gap.
State definitions, text on page 49:
- Undamaged text. No signature mark ‘4’.
- Damaged text. No signature mark ‘4’.
- Damaged text. Signature mark ‘4’ present.
The first state is the text as originally set and proofed – the lines of text are straight, i.e. they do not sag or step down, and there is no signature mark ‘4’ in the lower left hand corner of the page. In the second state, the signature mark is still absent, but the text is now damaged and steps down part of the way along the line – it is most obvious near the bottom of the page. The third and final state still has the damaged text, as well as a signature mark ‘4’ in the bottom left corner of the page.
A small scale survey by Steven M. Frisby found 8 out of 10 copies checked had the third state of the defective text. The other two states appeared in just one of the 10 copies checked.
Hammond states that variant 3 is the earliest state and that variant 1 is the latest. This statement was based on the assumption that the damaged text would have been picked up by the printers and corrected. This was not the case – all later impressions included the damaged text, although the signature mark was removed after the second impression. Wayne Hammond noted this misinterpretation in Issue 11 of The Tolkien Collector.
State definitions, last line on page 281:
- There is a gap in the middle of the word Me n.
- The gap has been closed – Men.
The small scale survey by Steven M. Frisby found 4 out of 10 copies checked had the defective text. Images of the two states of the text will be added at a later date.
It should be noted that all of the variants detailed above, and the priorities assigned to them, are of manufacture only. They would have been published simultaneously.