1649AB02N.jpg

You have 2 more free articles remaining

However, as those jackets, like that of  The Hobbit of 1937 (a defective example of which was seen on a copy that made £4440 in a  Bloomsbury Auctions sale of June 17), are so very familiar, I have illustrated  right the much more colourful jackets of the first authorised American edition of 1965 seen at Sotheby's. 

Lord of the Rings was first published in the USA before America signed up to international copyright convention and when Tolkien's US publisher technically broke the law by importing too many copies of the English printing, Ace Books decided that the work had thereby fallen into the public domain and put out an edition in 1965. 

A new edition that could be copyrighted was needed and Tolkien was asked to provide some new material. This Ballantine edition was published over the last three months of 1965 and this set from the writer's own library has been meticulously marked up in coloured inks to indicate his revisions. Tolkien, who seems to have used an English edition as a model, gives page numbers for comparison and also provides a key: "Red corrections are those made by me  since printing. Green marks errors made by USA printers." 

The jackets were soiled, creased and occasionally torn (the lower cover of  The Return of the King was detached) but this was also a very appealing lot for those concerned with the textual development of the English-speaking world's favourite book and it sold for £9000 (Simon Finch), not the £1000-1500 suggested.