Collector Profile: Henk Brassien (The Netherlands, 1948), Hobbit Hunter

I was born in a little village called Den Hulst, above the butchery of my grandfather’s. Maybe there my Bourgundian way of life started?

I went to school, to university (for not too long), found a job, got married, got two sons, got divorced (my ex and I still like each other in a way, go on holiday together etc.) and now live in the city of Zwolle, in the eastern part of The Netherlands. In 2007 I had to move because of my Tolkien collection. I now have a library with lots of room for my books (but, for how long?).

In 2010 my working life in Achmea Human Resources ended and I went with prepension, which meant lots of time to do what I already wanted for a long time: to have my own webshop with books by and on Tolkien.

How did you get started in collecting?

In 1960 my schoolmaster in the fifth form of a primary school (I was 11 years old then) was Mr. Van Dijk. He used to read books every last hour Friday afternoon. He was reading De Hobbit. It struck me like lightning and I wanted that book for myself. Saved my pocket money for five weeks (Hfl 1,25, about EUR 0,60, yes!!) and went to the local bookshop. Mr. B.H. Kok said that he did not sell that book to children. I was completely knocked-down and left the shop. A trauma! At that time I was not keen enough to tell him that Tolkien wrote the book for his children.

It took me until 1975 to get a first Tolkien book of my own. I wanted revenge, I started to collect.

What do you collect?

I collect books by and on Tolkien. But, as it is impossible (and too expensive, too) to collect everything, I specialized in collecting The Hobbit. All the Dutch imprints (I now have 75 out of 75 imprints since 1960) and at least one copy of any language in which The Hobbit ever was published. As far as I know, there some 60 (or a little more?) different translations of The Hobbit.
The missing ones? See my website, www.hobbithunter.nl.

If anyone of you has a missing Hobbit: mail me at hobbits@planet.nl, please.

How big is your collection?

My collection is about 1.700 items at this moment (August, 2011) and still growing – thanks to the internet . Almost all the items are books. I have some 400 Hobbits in 60 languages. As I said, there are 75 Dutch Hobbits, but also 29 German Hobbits (including the first print 1957), 113 English, 23 French, 41 Russian, 16 Spanish, etc. Plus some Tolkien-inspired music (LP’s and CD’s), board games (that I never play), folders, calendars, History of Middle-Earth, books on Tolkien, etc.

What has been your greatest find so far?

Hard to say. Many finds are precious to me. Because they are scarce or just beautiful. You want some examples? Well, there is of course the first Hobbit I ever had (1975), the first imprint of the Dutch LotR (1956 – 1957 with dust jacks, only 3.000 sets were printed) and the Linguaphone LP-set on which Tolkien reads two chapters. And the first prints of the Swedish (1947, German (1957), Polish (1960) and Portugese (1962) Hobbit.


Tell us about your Web site.

At this moment I have two websites.
Since June 2009 there is www.hobbithunter.nl, the site where you can see my private collection of some 400 Hobbits in 60 languages from all over the World. Scans of the covers and lots of information on each book. Amazing to see where all the visitors come from (more than 60 countries). 

And since August 2011 there is the website on which my double copies of books by and on Tolkien are for sale: www.hobbithunterbookshop.com. I sell worldwide.

Hobbithunder Bookshop

Other activities

Since January, 2010 on the First Wednesday of every month, I write an article about Hobbits on www.dehobbit.net, a Dutch site for fans of The Hobbit (the site has a translator).
And, since 2011 I am present at bookmarkets.

What does collecting mean to you?

Collecting is a way of life. Freud once said, that collecting is because of lack of mother’s love in your youth (but, we all know he has been wrong before).
Collecting is trying to get something complete. But at the same time: nothing is worse than a collection that is complete: it is the end of the hunt.
Collecting also is meeting people (thanks to the internet), helping each other to get that one missing book etc.
Collecting also is asking friends that go to a country with a Hobbit that I do not have: “Get me a …. Hobbit”. And you know what? They had the time of their live, met all kinds of nice people etc. I think I will start a Travel Company called The Hobbit Hunter someday.
Collecting is the ultimate joy of finding THAT item.

Is it an illness? Yes, it is. Do you have to be treated? No, no one can really help you.

If ever I could ever be someone else, I would like to be a Hobbit. And have a nice and peaceful life, give and get presents, have a good meal, smoke a pipe and live long and prosperous.

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