Allen and Unwin, Impressions (printings) 1, 1, 1 of the three books (in title order). All three jackets are similar wear and aging, un-restored original condition, much tattering and paper loss to spine ends and corners, fading to spine titles and darkening spines. Various marks, scuffs, stain to all three jackets.
FotR has two closed tear to cover seam from spine heel and paper loss to spine head corner (see detailed photos). TT has tattering and paper loss to spine ends and in the best condition of the three. RotK spine heel has a 1/4 inch to 1 inch paper loss and a closed tear to the seam running halfway up the height.
All three books have rubbing to the cloth covers spine ends and corners, with TT rubbed to the boards on one corner (though not immediately noticeable). An average condition set, but true collectible condition with no serious damage. An excellent set to get started with. Note, the RotK is a non-slip text 4 version on page 49 (Now considered 1st State). The "state" version does not effect the value in our opinion.Its possible one version is more rare than others, sliptext 4 is the most commonly found. Most collectors collect all three states eventually. Further details and advice on collecting Tolkien books. Many collectors would love to own a 1. Printing Lord of the Rings (LotR) set, 1.
Impression is the same as printing which is unfortunately now very expensive and rare. They therefore try and get as close as they can to a 1. The difficulty today for any set is to find jackets and books that match each other in their general wear, colour, fading, specifically to the dust jackets, so they will look nice displayed together.
Miss-matched sets without uniform jacket wear doesnt look nice and can seriously reduce the value. While sometimes you can find a set has been kept together for decades, thus has uniform aging wear, increasingly you see only sets recently pieced together. Set as all first printings of the three titles were released separately from 1954 to 1955. There is no true first edition set, only the first printing of each book pieced together, then or now, to make a complete 1. The original print runs were quite small by today's standards and many copies of books and especially their dust jackets were damaged or lost over time.It is easy to tell the impressions numbers as it is printed in the books and on the jackets 2. Return of the King had some printing errors creating different states to be collected. There are five books which were first published as three volumes to keep them more affordable as printing and paper was expensive back then. The cover price of a single hardbound volume would have been prohibitively high to most people in the 1950s. It was the release of the paperbacks in 1965 in America that really made Professor Tolkien work famous world-wide.
Early fans who immediately recognised Tolkien's work as a masterpiece bought the first of each book as they were released, or by chance bought all three books together on a shelf that happened to be the 1. By late 1955 when Return of the King (RotK) was released, the three titles distributed in shops would have likely been mixed impressions like 3,2,1 (in order of the three titles) or 4, 2, 1 or 5,4,2 etc.
Because they were already reprinting The Fellowship of the Ring (FotR) and Two Towers (TT) by the release of the first RotK. Sets have always been pieced together from the start making it hard to make a matching 1. Individual books acquired in those early days and kept together all this time typically have uniform aging of fading and wear to the dust jackets, from aging, use and the environment. The spines exposed to light would have discoloured to beige or brown the most while the flaps remain their original light grey. Fellowship of the Rings is often found more worn from being partly read, then put down by non-fans (it was not universally popular, then or now).
Some copies of the other two titles can be found hardly read at all. However, some people might have had the sense to collect them as potential classics. The books are generally found in very good condition as they were kept protected with their dust jackets. Most other set have an array of minor flaws, with both natural age damage and unnatural damage caused by carelessness line drink rings. Unfortunately, today, if they look brand new, chances are they are likely repaired or restored dust jackets.Few 60 plus year old books survive without some damage, if not fading to the spines or mould caused by damp. 90% or more of the a 1st/1st set value (or most contemporary books for that matter) is in the presence and condition of the original unrestored dust jackets. Worn books without jackets, those with damage like loose bindings or stains, are only for re-binding.
Books missing pages are worthless. A common flaw is the red colour from the cloth covers leaches onto the back of the jackets or finding white patches (old mould damage) on the book clothe covers or brown spots on the end pages all from books found in Britain. It is sad, but many homes in Britain then didnt have central heating and books suffered from mould and damp even in well off households. The colours of British housed copes tend to be truer, but the mould off-sets this.Books from sunnier climates tend to have fading to colours, an equal off-set to their potential value. There are many printings of the first and second edition of LotR, 15 of FotR. Current values are partly linear, where each subsequent printing is worth a little less than the previous, even into the second edition. By the late 60s print runs were larger because Tolkiens works were finally being discovered world-wide. This also meant collectors kept their books in unread condition. Of later editions/printings, they must be very good or better to have any value. Its a nice to have a first edition, but a fine first printing of the second edition is worth more than a poor condition of a later first printing. Everything in modern book values is down to condition, both books and jackets, but mostly jackets. A perfect brick is not as valuable as a flawed diamond.
Older books are rare because print runs were smaller and over time fewer exist. Demand for newer editions is driven by new films or new book releases, including new illustrators, but the print runs of new editions are so large, they will likely never be that rare, especially if they are produced specifically for collectors like deluxe or signed editions. The exception is deluxe editions printed before Professor Tolkien became a house-hold name.
The benefit of being a specialist dealer for 17 years is we have seen first-hand hundreds of early printings as well as many dozen 1. And can access the relative condition to other copies you are likely to find, now or later, not simply comparing to new condition, (which is a bit pointless). Our descriptions of only key common condition issues specific to Tolkien books and our pricing reflects values more accurately than private sellers or non-specialist, general book dealers. What is important is new high prices achieved for fine first can reset perceived prices on a speculative basis for all remaining copies available. Provided demand continues, prices in early Tolkien rarely fall, but can flatten if there are too many copies available at one time.Most often it means things dont sell as quickly or at all, not the prices have fallen, but demand has been met. In Tolkien books, the difficulty decision for collectors is not always price ranges, but choosing copies and the trade-offs on condition, like more tattering and tears to the jackets, but less fading or more fading/ darkening to spines. The first printings remain out of affordable reach for most people, while later printings can have a wide variety of conditions and prices making choosing difficult. We have presented in some of our listings photo comparisons, so you understand why one set or book is worth so much more than another in more average condition. With private sellers and no fault of their own, there is often no logic in their pricing because they havent taken the time to compare over time. Sometimes youll get a bargain, mostly youll over pay for damaged examples. We have done the comparisons for you and priced our books accurately. R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1st/1st Set, No Restoration" is in sale since Friday, June 22, 2018. This item is in the category "Books, Comics & Magazines\Antiquarian & Collectable". The seller is "dogfark" and is located in Machynlleth. This item can be shipped worldwide.