Collecting Tolkien books (09.01.11 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

The love for books can go from reading and admiring to collecting books. Often bibliophiles manage to build large and specialized collections. But not all bibliophiles have the need to own the books they like and go and admire them in old libraries or archives.

However when you combine the love for books and a passion for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien then somehow it always turns into a massive or very specialized Tolkien book collection. One could probably call these people Tolkienophiles! But then again, most of the times I see this word being used it is by people who look down on Tolkien fans and is used to describe people who like to read essays on Tolkien and study Tolkien related topics.

Maybe there is no exact word to describe someone who collects Tolkien books, except from the obvious "Tolkien book collector", but it is certain there are many out there. Collections can vary a lot and can include miniature books, limited editions, comic books, illustrated editions, deluxe editions, folio society editions, custom bound editions, marginalia, inscribed or signed books or even galley proofs and advance review copies.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


There are literary millions of Tolkien books out there and so no Tolkien book collection will look the same! The starting point for the collection is however often the same, a profound love for the works of Tolkien or even better a deep love for Middle-earth that J.R.R. Tolkien created. Very often people start their collection with one single Tolkien book, just to be able to re-read the book they love so much. The big question of course is why do Middle-earth lovers tend to end up with a huge Tolkien book collection?

Most collectors first start out to acquire more books by J.R.R. Tolkien, in a quest to find and read all the books he wrote. Because there are so many nice illustrated editions out there they probably see and acquire them while searching for something 'more' to read. They also end up with books about J.R.R. Tolkien himself, because at a certain point they just want to learn more about the author and try to find the answer who the person was that created this magnificent world they have become to adore so much. But even while this would leave you with a nice collection already, some Tolkien lovers have by then discovered the love for Tolkien book collecting.

How lovely would it be to own a first edition of The Lord of the Rings? How fantastic would it be to have a book signed by your favorite Tolkien illustrator? Or what if you manage to stumble upon a copy signed by J.R.R. Tolkien himself? The thrill to go out in shops and online stores searching for that one special book becomes the drive for collecting. Book collecting is a strange thing; most of the time book collectors prefer to have to thrill of finding that one special book over actually owning it. That is why when you meet up with a Tolkien book collector he will have a story to tell about every single book in his collection. This retelling of how they found it takes them back to the essence of book collecting, the thrill to find unique items! In the end most books will survive the collector many times and there for the items in Tolkien collection are treasured, studied and passed on. Once a Tolkien collector moves to the stage he starts studying the items he owns I believe he has reached the final level of collecting and once again the focus of his collection will shift towards the study of the field of his interest.

Once a Tolkien book collector has discovered the fun of searching for rare Tolkien books the collection he owns can grow rapidly into a small library. Second hand book stores and online book stores can provide massive amounts of Tolkien books for not a lot of money. However over the years collectors tend to grow in their newly discovered hobby and almost always in the end turn from huge amounts of Tolkien books to high quality and unique Tolkien books. Collecting Tolkien books there for is a never ending story and just like playing chess can be done on several levels.

Around 2006 I started one section on this website that focuses completely on Tolkien collecting. Still, since then I have seen and learned a lot. So now I have decided to rewrite that section completely and rework it into a more comprehensive section of the website. I'll hope to take you on a small trip that will show all aspects of Tolkien collecting. For example we will see what to collect, where to find books online, what references and resources you can use as Tolkien book collector, what the condition of a book means for the value... With a little help from my friends this section can turn into a nice guide for new Tolkien collectors and aid already active Tolkien collectors to get forward in this never ending tale!

So let us start of by telling here why you collect Tolkien books? Please add a comment below, who knows I reward the best answer (have something nice lying here that seeks a new home!).

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