Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Hobbit: Folio Edition (1999)

The Folio Society was set up in 1947 as a company that aimed to produce beautiful editions of the world’s finest books. The original intent was that they would be well priced, effectively creating 'a poor man's fine edition' – a well-designed, printed and bound book to which the common man could aspire.

In 1976 the society published its own version of The Hobbit, which was basically the 1976 Allen & Unwin deluxe edition rebranded and issued in leather covers with a slipcase. A second edition was released in 1979 in a similar style. These early editions had a rather (to me)ugly looking gilded labyrinth design on them, and certainly don’t do much to appeal to the eye. Today they definitely look dated, echoing 70s architecture like an out of date American film!

Thankfully, in 1997, the Folio Society relesed a version of The Silmarillion in a bright, colourful style. To make a matching set, they also released The Hobbit in this style, and this is the copy I have here (albeit a 1999 edition).

Bound in full vegetable parchment blocked with a design by Francis Mosley, the text is essentially the same as the 1979 edition, but reprinted here in a new binding.
Illustrated by Eric Fraser, all pictures are black and white, mostly less than half a page in size, and created in a block-print style (if someone knows how to explain that style of illustration better then please let me know!) The inner covers contain maps in black and red, but this is the only colour in the set.

Sized at 9" x 5¾", with 248 pages, the book fits snugly into its slipcase, and has a very smart appearance. Much the same as the UK Deluxe Lord of the Rings, it has an overall feel of strength and clean edges rather than overt luxury or ornament.I have to say I really like the calligraphic style of the cover – it’s very classy in gold and red, although the red lends itself to fading, and my own copy has suffered quite badly from this.

Price-wise, this one can be bought new from the folio society for £25 (summer 2010), and lots of Ebay auctions also list at this price. However, I picked mine up for £11 inclusive of postage, by making an offer on an ebay listing. I am absolutely delighted with the price as the book is in stunning condition except for the spine-fading.

In conclusion, this is a nice book. I have to admit that the matching set of The Lord of the Rings (3 books in a slipcase) looks a lot more impressive, and I only really purchased this one to complement that set. It's not a book I would recommend buying as a gift, but for the price I got it for it is silly not to pick it up.

No comments:

Post a Comment