The Sunday Salon: Collecting The Lord of the Rings

One day, rifling through the books at my local thrift store, I came across a copy of The Hobbit—the one from the ’80s, the one my fifth grade enrichment class read, the one with a hilariously bad cover. I laughed over it and, for a moment, thought if I should start collecting editions of The Lord of the Rings. With a jolt, I realized I already had—I’d bought the exact same copy a few weeks ago at a different thrift store. That was last fall. Since then, my The Lord of the Rings collection has kind of exploded and gained a display case, so I thought it was about time to show you guys what I’ve been working on on and off.

There are a few rules to my collection. I only collect The Hobbit when it’s part of a box set with The Lord of the Rings, I never spend more than five dollars on a single book (which means I troll a lot of thrift stores and eBay), and, most importantly, I’m only working on US editions, thus saving me from having to purchase or go without first editions, as the British ones are quite expensive. As you can also see, I collect versions of the Jackson film adaptations. As a collection, it’s actually quite educational—it’s fun to have the history of The Lord of the Rings‘ publishing at my fingertips.

This is the top level. On the left, we have my first editions (but not first printing!) and my extra second editions; a complete set of second editions is in the middle. On the right, we’ve got the eighties covers; I just need a blue The Two Towers to complete the bad art set that I’ve featured before on The Sunday Salon, but I also need to get started on the other illustrations in this cover design.

On the middle level, we’ve got the nineties and film tie-in covers; two complete sets of Houghton Mifflin trade paperbacks and The Hobbit of the Alan Lee covered paperbacks, as well as incomplete sets of the Ballantine mass market paperbacks from 2001 to 2003. We’ve also got an elephant statue to represent the Oliphaunts. Just because I had one on hand.

On the bottom, we’ve got one set of Houghton Mifflin hardcovers from 2001, which was the first set I bought to read the series—you can see my bookmark in The Two Towers left over from The Lord of the Rings readalong. On the right, we’ve got the Peter Jackson films—VHS tapes of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, along with the theatrical and extended DVDs of the films. I finally got a The Return of the King DVD with the original blue case recently—while I actively seek out used items for my collection (I’ll talk more about this in another Sunday Salon, but I like to think of the readers before me), I wanted my DVDs to match.

I wish the photography was a bit better, but my collection is (naturally) at home instead of here at school. Perhaps they’ll improve the next time I photograph the collection, huh?

I’ve had a bumpy reentry into school; school, work, and rehearsal starts up next week. I’m thinking about dropping a yoga class, but I don’t know anymore. Still, I’ve had time to read—I finished The Magician’s Book this week and started on Soon I Will Be Invincible, which I’m enjoying so far. I’ve also finally started listening to audiobooks. (I’ll probably name that feature Reading by Ear, since I’m not an aural learner and I can’t review audiobooks as in-depth as print books. They’ll also be rereads.) I’m listening to Eragon at the moment (oh, this poor narrator, trying to inject dignity into this wonderful mess), and I’ve got the 1981 radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings up next; as excited as I am for Ian Holm and Bill Nighy as Frodo and Sam, I can’t wait to hear book!Éowyn, since film!Éowyn is different in slight but significant ways. Ah!

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of The Hobbit! It’s open until Friday, so hustle! Tor/Forge’s Blog is giving away a Halo book and audiobook bundle until February 15th. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!

Do you collect any particular kind of books?

17 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Collecting The Lord of the Rings

  1. As a huge fan of LotR, I love this! I used to have three different sets of the books, but in my weeding out process next year, I knocked it back to one copy of the set. Not enough room on the shelves for doubles!!!

  2. Hmmm, don’t drop yoga — that’s good for stress relief!

    That’s too funny that you collect LOTR, because my husband did that, too! His price limit was a dollar a book, though, and he only picked volumes up if he found them in person at used book stores and sales. Many of the editions in your collection are familiar to me, because he had them, too! The last time we moved, though, my husband cleaned out his collection and pared it down to just one set of the books. Kind of sad, but we got sick of moving so many books and both got rid of a lot of books.

  3. Bill Nighy, indeed? I love Bill Nighy! I only recently learned his name is pronounced exactly like Bill Nye the Science Guy, which is confusing for me.

    My big sister collects LOTR editions too, but not the movie tie-ins. She has a dozen beaten-up copies of those white mass-market paperbacks, and then a fancy box set of large white paperbacks with, I believe, Alan Moore’s illustrations.

    • Apparently his Sam sounds very similar to Sean Astin’s Sam, so it ought to be interesting. (But first, Eragon has to whine for 16 hours.)

      That would be Alan Lee, not Alan Moore. 😉 Yeah, he did some gorgeous ones that are on my list, but difficult to find.

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  5. Oooh… I have some lovely old copies of the paperbacks…. including one of the first US releases that has some troubadour like fellow prancing by a pomegranite tree.

    the big question, however, is how many volumes of the Book of Lost Tales do you own?

  6. Wow, that’s quite a collection! I have three hardcopy versions of the Lord of the Rings – one Unwin 1-volume pb edition without the appendices, one hb 1-volume edition on really thin paper which includes all the appendices, and a 7-volume edition hb boxed set – and a Kindle version. I also have the BBC dramatisation on tape (yes, tape!). I think I have two copies of The Hobbit – one a 1980s pb and one a 20o0s pb.

    I love the BBC version of LOTR – Ian Holm is fantastic as Frodo, and the music is excellent.

    Have you ever listened to the “Tolkien Professor’s” podcasts? He teaches English at Washington College and has been doing a whole series of lectures on Tolkien since 2009. They’re really interesting.

  7. What a great idea of something to collect. I love LOTR and have a few copies of the books floating around myself (why do we all seem to have extra copies?).

    The one regret I have was walking away from a leather bound copy that had all three books of LOTR in it at a used bookstore in London 10 years ago … it was in beautiful condition and it would have been perfect for my bookshelf … but alas I let it go.

  8. I love your collection! I have the trilogy is two forms and all the extended editions of the movies, but I’m always tempted when I see another beautiful copy of the books.

  9. Very fun, thank you so much for sharing. I came by my love of LOTR via Jackson’s films, which have since grown into a devotion for Tolkien’s work and for works ABOUT Tolkien’s work. I have my own little collection growing and every year get a few things added via Christmas gifts and things I just cannot resist buying myself!

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