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This was still £20,000 under the low estimate, but how does one value something as singular and extraordinary as the lot illustrated here?

Singular is not really the word, for this is the first of Philip Smith’s
‘Book Walls’, and one inspired by a book that he has bound very many times, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In what the auctioneers described as “a superb example of symbiosis between content and binding”, and which Smith himself refers to as a new form of art object, six sets of the work have been differently bound in coloured morocco with feathered or maril onlays, and while individually they may be seen as representing events from the story, when viewed as a whole or as a wall, the front covers form an overall image of the lidless eye of Mordor and the rear covers present a plan of the labyrinthine seven walled city of Minas Tirith.