1957 to 1958 Lord of the Rings set, J.R.R. Tolkien. Fine bindings. Printer George Allen. Later impressions of the first editions.


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J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal trilogy, complete in three volumes, finely bound, first editions (7th, 5th and 4th impressions respectively), printed from 1957 to 1958 by George Allen in London and protected in a handsome red cloth slipcase.

About The Lord of the Rings (in extreme brief) -

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some time in the distant past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's book The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling books ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

The title refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who, in an earlier age, created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power given to Men, Dwarves, and Elves, in his campaign to conquer all of Middle-earth. From homely beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land reminiscent of the English countryside, the story ranges across Middle-earth, following the quest to destroy the One Ring mainly through the eyes of the hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin.

Reception -

The Lord of the Rings has since been reprinted many times and translated into at least 38 languages. Its enduring popularity has led to numerous references in popular culture, the founding of many societies by fans of Tolkien's works, and the publication of many books about Tolkien and his works. It has inspired many derivative works, including paintings, music, films, television, video games, and board games. It has helped to create and shape the modern fantasy genre, within which it is considered one of the greatest books of all time.

Bibliographic Details -

The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers were printed in 1957, being the 7th and 5th impressions of their first edition. The Return of the King was printed in 1958, being the fourth impression of its first edition.

An oversimplified description of impressions - As the book succeeds, the printer can use the printing plates to produce another batch, if demand warrants; these are still the first edition, but they are not the first impression. The Lord of the Rings met with great success, so these three are later impressions of their first editions.

Physical Attributes -

Each volume measures approx. 22.5 x 14 cm. Morocco red leather bindings. Spines richly decorated in gilt, with five raised bands; four compartments with a central gilt circle surrounded by leaves, pointille and stars in gilt. Two compartments with the title and author in gilt. Years in gilt at base of spine. All raised bands rolled with an undulating tool, and all compartments framed in double gilt fillet. Boards framed in single gilt fillet. Red and white endbands. Top edges red. Marbled endpapers. Fresh flyleaves.

Each book with a folded map at the rear.

Condition -

See pictures. Bindings are fresh, with very little wear. I notice some slight paper discoloration at the top-edge of the Fellowship's gutter; no text affected. Also, the bottom corner has very light creases, indicating the corner was once bumped (barely noticeable now). The last page, with the colophon, has several tiny fox spots. Left edge of v1 map has been folded over. One gathering of Two Towers slightly proud at fore-edge; that same quire has evidence of a tear repair in the gutter; excellent repair. There is a small mark at the bottom margin of Two Towers p. 304-305, no text affected. Very small, very light mark on 1/2 title page of Return. Fore-edges of last several leaves has light fox spots.

I nitpicked. This set is mostly quite clean and handsome, with no thumbing; I'm left wondering if this set was ever read.

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