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    J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. 1954-1955. First editions, first impressions, with original illustrated first state dust jackets. The Fellowship of the Ring. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1954. First edition, first impression, with signature mark "4" on page 49. Octavo. 423, [1, colophon] pages. Three illustrations after Tolkien and two maps (printed in red and black) after Tolkien's son, Christopher: Map of the Shire (page [25]), The Ring inscription (page 59), The Gate of Moria (page [319]), the inscription on Balin's Tomb (page 333), large folding map (mounted to rear free endpaper recto). Publisher's red cloth, spine stamped in gilt; original illustrated dust jacket. Head and foot of spine just pushed, light dampstain (approximately 16 x 27 mm) to the bottom left corner of the lower board. Cream endpapers; penciled bookseller's notations to the front free endpaper recto, minor foxing and offsetting. Internally clean and tight, all edges trimmed, top edge stained red; minor intermittent foxing chiefly to edges and margins of folding map. Dust jacket unclipped (21s); very minor edgewear, spine lightly sunned, a few intermittent spots of foxing. Near fine or better.

    [Together with:] The Two Towers. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1954. First edition, first impression, with signature mark "4" on page 49. Octavo. 352 pages. Illustrated with one large folding map after Christopher Tolkien, printed in red and black and mounted to rear free endpaper recto. Publisher's red cloth, spine stamped in gilt; original illustrated dust jacket. Very minor soiling along joints. Cream endpapers; minor offsetting and foxing. Internally clean and tight, all edges trimmed, top edge stained red; minor intermittent foxing chiefly to edges. Dust jacket unclipped (21s); spine lightly sunned, a few intermittent spots of foxing, several light scratches to the rear panel. Near fine or better.

    [And:] The Return of the King. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1955. First edition, first impression; text variant three with signature mark "4" and sagging text present on page 49 and text variant two with "Men" (without gap) on page 281. Octavo. 416 pages. Illustrated with one large folding map after Christopher Tolkien, printed in red and black and mounted to rear free endpaper recto. Publisher's red cloth, spine stamped in gilt; original illustrated first state dust jacket. Head and foot of spine just pushed, very minor soiling along joints. Cream endpapers; minor offsetting and foxing. Internally clean and tight, all edges trimmed, top edge stained red; minor intermittent foxing chiefly to edges. Dust jacket unclipped (21s); very minor edgewear, approximately 6 x 5 mm closed tear to front panel at fold, spine lightly sunned, a few intermittent spots of foxing. Near fine or better.

    All housed in custom clamshell case by The Chelsea Bindery; quarter bright red leather over bright red cloth, spine stamped in gilt and with five raised bands, notably featuring Tolkien's "Ring and Eye" Device.

    With its crisp dust jackets, deep red topstain, and bright gilt, this set of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy is far and away the best we've ever seen and marks a masterpiece of worldbuilding that captured artists' imaginations from the first. Early film concepts were pitched by the likes of Walt Disney, Forrest J. Ackerman, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and more; however, the bulk of these remained unfinished or were adapted into other works. The first cinematic adaptation to hit screens was Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings (1978), which, despite the name, featured only material from The Fellowship of the Ring and portions of The Two Towers. Bakshi's marvel served as the building blocks for the immensity Middle Earth would eventually become on the big screen, with a screenplay by Peter S. Beagle, featuring all the dark wonder we would expect from his hand, and recognizable voices of the likes of John Hurt and Anthony Daniels.

    Ultimately, due to staffing changes, funding limitations, and overall disagreements in production, Bakshi's Middle Earth remained unfinished and the world still clamored for more. Rankin-Bass produced a rather gleefully dark adaptation of The Return of the King in 1980, as a follow-up to their production of The Hobbit (1977), but failed to garner the same enthusiasm.

    Now, when we speak of Lord of the Rings film adaptations, we generally refer to Peter Jackson's live-action adaptation, a series that embodies the meaning of the word "epic." Just as Tolkien first wrote this adventure of Middle Earth as one massive tome which was later divided into three, the film trilogy featured a budget of over $280 million and was shot simultaneously across the majestic landscape of New Zealand from 1999 to 2000, with pick-up shots completed by 2004. Jackson's adaptation is widely regarded as one of the most influential film series in history. It was highly praised and awarded for its innovation in special effects, costuming, musical score, acting, directing, and more. The series was honored with thirty Academy Award nominations, of which it won seventeen, and went on to serve as the foundation for future films, upcoming television adaptations, and the gold-star standard for high fantasy cinematic productions.

    A series nearly as captivating and coveted as the One Ring itself, first forged among these pages. The first impression of The Fellowship of the Ring was composed of merely 3,000 copies, making a complete first edition, first impression trilogy set in this condition something truly legendary.

    Hammond & Anderson A5.a.i., ii, iii; Hammond, "Addenda and Corrigenda," The Tolkien Collector (1995).




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2021
    9th-10th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
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