1937 Signed, First Edition "The Hobbit" & Dust Jacket
Appraised Value: $80,000 - $120,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:03)
Books & Manuscripts
Vice President, Specialist Books and Manuscripts
GUEST: I brought you a copy of The Hobbit. It happens to be signed. This was a gift from a professor to my wife at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. I know it's a book that she treasures, mostly because of the relationship she had with the professor. She belonged to a philosophy club when she was going to college, and he was a mentor and had a good relationship.
GUEST: She was gifted the book.
APPRAISER: And when was the...?
GUEST: In the late '60s.
APPRAISER: In the late '60s she got the book, okay. Have you read this?
GUEST: We didn't read this book, we read other copies.
APPRAISER: That was a brilliant move, that you actually preserved the book the way it is, and I assume the way you got it, because it is in absolutely stunning condition.
GUEST: Oh, fantastic.
APPRAISER: I see a lot of first editions, and it is just a rare, wonderful occasion to see a book of this magnitude in a dust jacket that is so well preserved. We've presented the jacket so we can see both front and back panels, the spine panel, and the flaps, and the only wear that you see are a few little chips along the spine edge and along the joints where the joints meet the edge. First editions are usually valuable when they have their original dust jacket, especially from that time period. The book was published in 1937, and what would many times happen is that a dust jacket is torn, gets discarded, so that's why only a very few dust jackets of the book survive, and none of them survive in this kind of condition. It is a first issue dust jacket. Collectors are very particular about that. And you can tell by a little correction that the publisher did in the name on the back flap.
APPRAISER: If you look at the copy of the book, you can tell that the book was well protected by the dust jacket. There's absolutely no wear to it. And then the little extra treasure that the book has is the actual signature of Tolkien on what is called the half title. The package, to have a first edition, the first edition, first issue dust jacket and the signature is just... it cannot get any better. Do you have an idea of what kind of value we're looking at?
GUEST: I... I don't know.
APPRAISER: So you've never gotten it appraised?
GUEST: No, it's never been appraised.
APPRAISER: The estimate, at auction, would be $80,000 to $120,000.
GUEST: Oh, fantastic. Wow.
APPRAISER: It's one of a kind, and so the sky might be the limit for this copy. Absolute... you made my day.
GUEST: (chuckles) Thank you.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.