The amazing art of bookbinding - The Silmarillion (27.01.11 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

It has been a nice four days, looking at some of the most beautiful copies of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the incredible book art by Philip Smith. We have seen bindings by some of the most reknown companies, we have seen craftmanship and book art. Today we will look at The Silmarillion. It was very difficult to find nice rebindings of The Silmarillion, in fact it seems not a lot have been made. I have tried to find copies of the Silmarillion bound by the better binderies, but could not find any. So Tolkien lovers, do you own a copy, know a copy or make a fine rebinding? Please do sent info and pictures over to me and I'll add them here.

This amazing binding of The Silmarillion was created by bookbinder and artist Philip Smith (with the note inside cover: "Philip Smith Designed 1978-79, Completed 1980). The front of the book consists of two flaps of sculpted dark morocco with inlaid stones, covering a hand-painted triptych inspired by The Silmarillion.

At the back of the book we see the face of Morgoth with his crown and two Silmarils. At the spince there is written Tolkien and The Silmarillion in gold and palladium.

The books is housed in a matching slipcase. This is probably the most beautiful copy of The Silmarillion ever made. Although I know Philip Smith must have made some others that could match this one. This copu was sold on auction at Sotheby's Paris in December 2008 for € 13,750.
This amazing binding of The Silmarillion was created by bookbinder and artist Philip Smith
Ok, technically this copy is not a rebinding and in fact is not even an officially published printing of The Silmarillion. But is is one of the most beautiful copies of The Silmarillion I have ever seen. You can read the interview with Benjamin Harf, who created this Silmarillion as exam at the Academy of Fine Arts.

All the initials, the calligraphic pages and illumination are drawn and painted by hand. The pages were bound in a leather goatskin cover to give the book an amazing finish.

It is amazing how one person spend almost one year and a half writing, decorating and illuminating The Silmarillion. The result is very stunning.
All the initials, the calligraphic pages and illumination are drawn and painted by hand.
The following 1st edition of The Silmarillion was bound by an amazing talented American bookbinder and was commissioned by David Miller, a specialized Tolkien book dealer.

This copy has been newly rebound in full Terra Cotta morocco leather.  All edges of the textblock have been trimmed and gilded.
Custom marbled paper by Joan Ajala of Austalia for the endpapers was used to ensure the highest quality possible.
 
This design features Tengwar Title & Author gilt stamped to front boards, with large gilt stamped image of the heraldic device Tolkien designed to represent Luthien Tinuviel.

The rear boards have the JRRT monogram gilt stamped, with single gilt rule to all edges and turn-in's.

The raised bands to spine with small version of the heraldic device, show The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin and 1977 written in gold in the compartments.

Similar versions in different types of leather have been made and all really looked fantastic. It must be a thrill to read a book like The Silmarillion in this full leather binding.
The following 1st edition of The Silmarillion was bound by an amazing talented American bookbinder
The last copy I want to show is a fine example of the very hard to find Super Deluxe Collector's Edition of The Silmarillion. It is a limited edition of 1000 copies that was published by George Allen & Unwin in 1982. The first 100 of this edition were signed by Christopher Tolkien.

The first 1000 copies of the first edition of The Silmarillion where put aside in 1977 and rebound in red leather in 1982. It is rumoured that not all of the 1000 copies were bound and issued. As for now very few copies of this edition where seen and looking at the numbers that do surface now and then it looks like this rumor is true.

This copy has original publishers full red leather binding, with cloth and matching red leather slipcase, as issued. The book features red silk ribbon marker bound in, raised bands and gilt stamped Title, Author, and Publisher on the spine. 

The front boards features the JRRT Monogram gilt stamped in single ruled box. On the first free endpaper, the Publisher's Limitation Plate, gives the Limitation number.

With this nice book I wish to end my four day search for the most beautiful copies of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. I hope this article will grow over time as people send in images and info of other unique rebindings. I truly hope this was interesting and that it has inspired many Tolkien fans.
The first 1000 copies of the first edition of The Silmarillion where put aside in 1977 and rebound in red leather in 1982.


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