Collecting The Silmarillion (09.02.05 by Pieter Collier) -
When collecting Tolkien books most people stop when The
Hobbit and The Lord
of The Rings is on the shelves. Yet there is another treasure to explore.
For most in the beginning a hard read, but maybe the most valuable literature
treasure for others. I'll try to tell more on this book, The
Silmarillion, it's origin and all on collecting this marvellous work,
ranging from limited to translated editions.
The Silmarillion is actually tolkien's first book and also his last. In origin it precedes
even The Hobbit,
and is the story of the First Age of tolkien's Middle Earth. It shows
us the ancient history to which characters in The
Lord of the Rings look back, talk, rhyme and sing about. Tolkien worked
on it, changed it, and enlarged it throughout his entire life. It was edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher
Tolkien, with the assistance of fantasy fiction writer Guy Gavriel Kay to reconstruct some major parts.
Inside the book
The Silmarillion combines five parts:
1. The Ainulindalë - the creation of Eä, tolkien's
2. The Valaquenta - a description of the Valar and Maiar
3. The Quenta Silmarillion - the history of the events
before and during the First Age
4. The Akallabêth - the history of the Second Age
5. Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
These five parts, in origin separate works, were put together as this
is how J.R.R.Tolkien would hav liked it.
Cchapters in the book that i like a lot:
- "Of Beren and Lúthien"
- "The Narn i Chîn Húrin" - The
Tale of the Children of Húrin
- "The Fall of Gondolin" - which is my all
Development of the
The earliest drafts of The
Silmarillion stories date back to as early as 1917,
when Tolkien, a British officer stationed
in France during World War I was laid up in a military field hospital
with trench fever. At the time, he called his collection of nascent stories The Book of Lost Tales. After the war, he tried to publish
some of his stories, however many editors rejected him, regarding his
work as "fairy tale" unsuitable for adult readership. He tried
once more, having already published The
Hobbit in 1937; however that time too, The
Silmarillion was deemed too complicated. Tolkien was asked to write a sequel to The
Hobbit which would become his significant novel The
Lord of the Rings.
But Tolkien never abandoned his book. He regarded The
Silmarillion as the most important of his work, seeing in its tales
not only the genesis of Middle-earth and later events as told in The
Hobbit and The Lord
of the Rings, but the entire core of his legendarium. He continued
to work on them over the next several decades, revising and reworking
his ideas, right up until his death in 1973.
After tolkien's death
For several years after his father's death, Christopher Tolkien worked through the mass of papers written by his father creating a coherent,
consistent and chronologically accurate whole. On some of the later parts
of the "Quenta Silmarillion" which were in
the roughest state, he worked with fantasy author Guy Gavriel
Kay to construct a narrative practically from nothing. The final
result, which included genealogies, maps, an index and the first-ever
published Elvish word list was published in 1977.
Since its publication The
Silmarillion is available in several states. There for it is possible
to start collecting every single impression of The
Silmarillion. Although already it is becoming a huge job, it is still
much easier to succeed then trying to collect every single Hobbit out there. Another kind of collectors, like a friend of mine,
try and collect all translations of The
Silmarillion. An other interesting track to follow. Not only because
of the languages, but mainly because of the strangest illustrations you
will encounter. Next to that it promises a lot of new friendships. It
is hard to start this kind of collection without making new friends at
all. Of course there are many hardback and many more interesting paperback from The Silmarillion,
yet few are really scarce. Most of them are easy to find and rather cheap
to buy. There are at the other hand some real treasures which are harder
to find, like limited, deluxe and signed The
Silmarillion's. I'll give a short list down here to show some nice
copies. I know i will not be showing the first American The
Silmarillion, maybe just because it is i guess the most common The
Silmarillion on the market, and of no particular collectable value.
Yet it is my own reading copy!
of "the Silmarillion"
This is the first edition of The Silmarillion published in 1977
by George Allen & Unwin. It appeared as a hardback with dustwrapper.
Before publication there circulated a dummy copy of the book. It was
distributed to booksellers to solicit orders. Once in a while a dummy
comes on the market. Two variants have been seen - one with pages
printed up to page 32, other with pages printed up to page 35. The
rest of the papers and the map inserted at rear are blank. I have
seen a dummy being sold for 250$ but also for 950$. Now days most
of these are stuck in Tolkien collections making them quit rare. Because
the demand for the Silmarillion increased during the printing process
there were different printers involved. The fun part is to collect
all 1st editions from the different printers Billing & Sons, Clowes
& Sons, University Press, Unwin Brothers and a Book Club Associates
edition (BCA) also by Clawes and Sons. Next to all these books who
look the same, yet have all minor differences, there exists also an
export edition. This one differs because it lacks the price. Also
here two different versions have been seen. I hope some day someone
manages to point out all minor differences and make a final list of
impressions. Untill then, happy collecting! The quest is on.
What you do not see quit often is this box, called "The
Tolkien Library" by George Allen & Unwin. Only the name
(hey this site carries that name!) is already fun, but it has also
become very scarce. Inside are all hardbacks The slipcase shows
illustration by J.R.R.Tolkien and the renowned last photograph of
Tolkien by Billett Potter.
In the slipcase are a 4th Edition of The Hobbit and a 1st Edition,
4th Impression of The Silmarillion next to a 2nd Edition, of The
Lord of the Rings.
While the box was made in 1978 i have seen boxes with dates from
1978 to 1981.
The Guild Edition Silmarillion from 1981 by Guild Publishing
is a nice The Silmarillion. Especially in combination to the other
Middle Earth books in the same style. I always take this edition
to read aloud for my children. It looks magical to them. It is quit
common and was reprinted in 1985 and 1989. I was thinking not to
add it in the list, yet have been asked about it so many times i
listed it any way.
Very collectable is the
Limited Edition The Silmarillion made in 1982 by George Allen &
Unwin. Clowes & Sons had kept the first 1000 copies of the first
edition off the press in 1977 to create this limited edition, 100
of which were signed by Christopher Tolkien.
They were rebound in red leather and got a matching slipcase. Making
it even more interesting is that it is believed not all of the 1000
copies were bound and issued.
Two variants of the limitation plate have been seen - one on an
integral leaf and the other pasted onto the front end paper. When
this books pops up on the market be ready to pay big bicks, mostly
over 1000$. Yet you might get luck and pay little less then that.
This is a nice book for translations
collectors. The Polish edition of the Silmarillion published in
1985 by Czytelnik. It is a hardcover with green cloth boards. The
collectable value lays in the very strange illustrations. Ever seen
a chicken and an egg on the cover of a Silmarillion?
In 1998 Harper Collins published The Silmarillion. A deluxe edition
illustrated by Ted Nasmith. There were only 500 copies made and
all were signed by Ted Nasmith and Christopher Tolkien. This is
a book that comes on the market still quit often, but will soon
dissapear in most Tolkien collections. How many times can you get
a Christopher Tolkien signed book. The opportunities are very seldom.
For those interested there is a copy up for sale right here
The Silmarillion in another nice deluxe
edition was made in 2002 by Harper Collins. A hardback, issued
in a leather covered slipcase and limited to 1000 copies, matching
in size and design the Harper Collings Limited Editions of The Hobbit,
The Lord of the Rings, and The History of Middle Earth Series. It
has the large Silmarillion design gilt stamped on front boards.
Housed in orignal publishers slipcase with the same design gilt
stamped to the exterior, matching the gilt design on the book and
features gilded edges. It includes part of a letter to Milton
Waldman. For those interested there is a copy up for sale right here
Once again not so collectable yet very
interesting is The Silmarillion 2nd Illustrated Edition made in
2004 by Harper Collins, illustrated by Ted Nasmith. It is a little
bit thicker then other The Simarillion's since it includes no more
then 48 full-color paintings by Ted Nasmith. I'm so happy to see
this second editions featuring Nasmith's art... nowdays with the
movies it was only Alan Lee they talked about. I always liked Nasmith's
work and i saw some of the paintings that will be included... it
will be a wonderfull edition!
I know i missed some other collectable editions of The Silmarillion,
yet i covered a nice selcetion. Whenever you feel to add something or
want to write a review, please send it to me!
- J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography by Wayne G. Hammond, with
the assistance of Douglas A. Anderson.
- Book and Magazine Collector, Februari 1992, No.95
- The Silmarillion, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- The Silmarillion, From Tolkienbooks.net
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