Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Lord of the Rings, 1969 UK Deluxe 1 Volume Edition - 8th impression

When I first became serious about collecting Tolkien books I knew this one was going to be a vital part of my collection; I love so many things about it, I just had to have it. However, I also had to make a decision on whether or not to spend £300 or so on a 1st impression, or get a later copy for around 20% of that price. For me I felt it was right to take the cheap option, and so I picked this 1982 impression up for £50 on ebay. At this point in my collecting journey, where I just want to get as many nice items as possible, it really wasn't worth saving for ages for the 1/1, simply to be able to say "I have the 1/1".

Initially released in 1969, this edition uses the text from the first one volume paperback edition (plus the appendices). Printed on India Paper (commonly known as Bible paper), it is bound in black buckram cloth with a stunning front cover depicting Tolkien's design of the Numenorean throne (often found on the front of the Return of the King). The endpapers are speckled in green, and there is a fold-out map at the back.The whole thing is housed in a box.

On my first inspection of this edition I couldn't fail to focus on how delicate the box seems. With a white paper label stuck on the front (seemingly cut and stuck by hand), the whole thing is frail and certainly not sturdy like many of the slipcases in the rest of my collection. The first impression came in a slipcase, but this was changed for a box some time in 1974, and I think that was a mistake; whilst the box certainly protects the book better, it is so weak that it's very prone to damage, and the large white paper label doesn't date well. My own copy has a small tear on the bottom.

Upon opening the box things improve quickly. 28 year old tissue paper surrounds the book and is as good as new (a breath-taking fact to me). As to the book itself, the front cover has to be one of the most stunning I've seen. My only criticism is it would have stood out more on a black leather background, and the buckram has a slightly dull look.However, the image itself is stunning, and confirms the belief of many that Tolkien is a truly under-rated artist.

The book is smaller than I imagined at around 1 inch in thickness. The spine is stunning, with the gold lines adding a real sense of regality to this edition. The fold-out maps are situated both at the end and after the Two Towers, which is an unusual and likeable touch.

On a personal note, this impression was born in the same year as my wife, which adds a real sense of sentimental value to the book. It's not for me to say which has aged the best, but one certainly costs me a lot more than £50, and both look and feel great when taken out of the wrapper.

All in all a very nice book, and certainly great value for money at the price. It definitely has the nicest cover of anything in my collection, but the delicate and prone to soiling box drags it down a peg or two.


  1. This truly is a beautiful edition and also one of my favorites in my collection.
    The coverart, the india paper, ...

  2. Hi, have just seen one of these for sale (5th Impression, 1976). I'm very keen, but am also somewhat startled at the size of it. Are all the appendices included, and is it abridged in any way? Or is the writing just very, very small??

  3. Sorry, but I have another questions also. Did Tolkien illustrate the Lord of the Rings such as he did with The Hobbit, and if he did are the illustrations present in this edition?

  4. 1969 de luxe edition. Published by George Allen and Unwin for sale contact me by email