Monday, 6 December 2010
The Lord of the Rings - Deluxe Illustrated Edition- 1992
There are three Lord of the Rings sets that are on my ultimate wish-list, and today I can tick one of them off. Yes, after months of hard saving and lay-away payments to the tolkienbookshelf.com, I finally own the 1992 deluxe illustrated Lord of the Rings, which was published to celebrate the centenary of Tolkien's birth in 1892.
There were only 250 of these printed, which makes it far and away my ‘rarest’ and most treasured possession in the collection as yet. To think that these are still in their publisher's shrinkwrap must make them all the rarer, and I really do love the idea that there are (at most) only 249 other people out there with these books. In reality there are probably far less, as some dealers seem to have a few copies, and it may even be that some have been damaged and thrown away.
Originally published at £250, this was never a cheap set. £250 in 1992 is now around £400, so this set would outprice the current Hurin and Sigurd Super Deluxes, and rightly so in my opinion as it is far nicer.
First off, I am delighted in just how dark and rich the green leather is – the set on tolkienbooks.net looks dull and faded, which made me wonder if mine would be similar, but these books are dark and rich in colour. Green is an interesting choice too – it oozes quality and class, reminding me of lamps in American universities and posh stuffed leather chairs in rich old men’s country houses!
It is only 1/4 leather, leaving the rest to cloth. I have to say that I find cloth a difficult binding material, as it is so prone to dirtiness and dust marks. It also grazes easily, and as these are quite a tight fit in the box, I can see that they are likely to scrape each other a bit over time.
Each book is signed and numbered by Alan Lee (mine are no. 66). The writing is smaller than in other signed editions I own, and it would have been nice to see a bit more space allowed, but it's only a small point.
The pages have gold gilt edges, and have ribbon markers too. The gold edges look beautiful, particularly as the pages are thick. It is the 'goldest' of all my gold gilt edge sets!
The price I paid for this set was just over £600, purchased from David at tolkienbookshelf.com. This was a bargain price for which I am very grateful to David. Pretty much every time I have seen these for sale (whether on ebay or abebooks etc) they are ticketed at around £1000, so I am dead happy to have the set for this price. I took advantage of the lay-away scheme, whereby you pay over a number of months, and there was a real sense of satisfaction to earn before I received. It is worth noting at this point that I am paid off for all of my purchases, but something like the super deluxes I bought and paid off later, whereas this one had a real sense of longing to it as I paid a bit each month. I originally planned on a 12 month purchase period, but got there in the end in just about 5 as I took on a whole host of over-time and tutoring at school which allowed me to plough funds in at a faster than planned rate.
The illustrations are, again, the same 50 lovelies from the 1991 Alan Lee illustrated edition. As I hinted at in my last post, it's bizarre to think that the paperback set I won has the same text and pictures in as this one, but that I paid 200 times as much for this set as the last! It raises all sorts of interesting points about value, points which I will now try and address.
For me, this set is value. There are a number of factors which make it so. Its rarity is one, its condition another, the signature a third. However, those can also be mirrored in the single volume blue edition of the same year, but I wouldn't pay £600 for that one. I think what tips the balance for me is the feel of the set in the hand. In three separate editions there is no over-heavy feeling - the book can be handled with ease. This, along with the other three factors, makes it worth its money to me. Bizarre how I paid the same amount for this set as the car I currently drive! I guess it all relates to disposable cash - the £600 was a fisable medium term saving for me, wheras right now the 1964 deluxe, at at least £2000, is not. That isn't to say it's not value too, but for me it isn't worth entertaining the thought of at this moment in time.
All in all a stunning set, and one I am delighted to own.
Posted by Mr Bruff at 10:33