Within a set of page proofs of The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote a list of family members, colleagues, friends and students to whom he wished to present copies of the book (see Appendix V within John D. Rateliff's second edition of his The History of The Hobbit, published in 2011). Intended recipients were E.V. Gordon; C.S. Lewis; Elaine Griffiths; K.M. Kilbride; Marjorie Incledon; Mary Incledon; R.W. Chambers; Aileen and Elizabeth Jennings; Mabel Mitton ("Aunt Mabel"); Florence Hadley ("Aunt Florence"); C.L. Wrenn; Simone d'Ardenne; Helen Buckhurst; Jane Neave; "Rattenbury" (thought by Rateliff to be R.M. Rattenbury, a lecturer in Classics at the University of Leeds); "Livesleys" (possibly the couple who ran a guest house in Sidmouth); A.H. Smith; Jennie Grove; Stella Mills; W.R. Childe; George S. Gordon; and Hilary Tolkien. Rateliff notes that copies were also to go to the Oxford Magazine and the "Book Soc."
In the last decades many of these association copies of The Hobbit have been sold on auction and several were sold directly to collectors. They remain the most precious books any Tolkien lover or collector could desire. Prices have now risen so high that they have become accessible for the lucky few. Doubling the previous price record however indicates a very strong interest. Many had expected that with the release of The Hobbit movies many rare copies would have been brought to the auction block, however no such thing happened and prices remained stable (no such thing during The Lord of the Rings movies where prices skyrocketed). Now with all the movie hype calmed down it is time for the books to retake their place.
Tom Shippey's study of tolkien's fiction, The Road to Middle-Earth, cites a similar poem and translates it as: There is many a thing in the West-regions unknown to me, marvels and strange beings, a land fair and lovely, the homeland of the Elves, and the bliss of the Gods ... ?. But this inscription diverges in the third line. According to Professor Susan Irvine at UCL, Tolkien followed eardgard elfa or the homeland of the elves with eorclanstanas / on dunscrafum digle scninath, which she translated as precious stones / shining secretly in mountain caves. So and the bliss of the Gods... was changed for precious stones shining secretly in mountain caves.
Kilbride's set of The Lord of the Rings (inscribed to "C.M. Kilbride") was sold by Sothebys on 19 July 1982, lot 315, and later sold once again by Sotheby's New York on 10-11 December 1993, lot 581. An autograph postcard to her, dated 24 December 1926, was sold at Bonham's on 12 June 2012, lot 150.
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