Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What your Edition of Lord of the Rings Says About You

For this to work, pick the edition of The Lord of the Rings you own.  If you own multiple, pick your favorite. If you don't own your own edition, see the "none" category below.

First Edition
If you own a first edition set of The Lord of the Rings, you are either: a) someone who was around in 1955 (probably in Britain) when it first came out or b) a really successful collector.

If you are the former, you may be pleased to know that your edition could sell for $14,000+ in some cases.

If you are the latter, you are probably really dedicated to collecting rare things, especially Tolkien-related items.

Ballantine 1988 Paperback

If you have the above authorized paperback copies of The Lord of the Rings, you were probably a teen or college student in the 80s or know someone who was.  These books were really popular in the 80s  and are little thick paperbacks, you know, the type with yellow pages that in most cases smell kind of musty.

You may have discovered these books somewhere in a box in your basement where your dad left them after college.

"Now an Epic Motion Picture" Paperback

You or someone you know probably bought this book shortly before the original movies came out after hearing all the hype or bought it after seeing the films.

Black Paperback

If you own this book, you probably were given or bought this shortly before seeing the Hobbit movies or right afterwards.  You probably came to know The Lord of the Rings through the Hobbit movies.


If you don't own an edition of The Lord of the Rings, you are either a fan of libraries or are on the hunt for the perfect edition to spend your savings on.

Sorry if the edition you own didn't make it on the list.  Perhaps I'll do a part two if this receives a positive response.  I used the limited information about publishing dates and people I know who have the above editions to form my predictions, but in all honesty I was basically guessing.  So, did I guess something about you based on your copy?  Or was I way off?  Let me know in the comments :)  


  1. I'm not sure which edition I own! My dad has some from the 80's (those were his days), and I use them now. But they're not the ones you show here, they're a bit different.
    The ones I own personally are, I think, modeled to look like the first editions with minor differences. they're still pretty old, though.

    1. Oh was it this one? https://2warpstoneptune.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/fellowship-dks-1981.jpg
      That was published in 1981 so it's possible that's the copy your dad has.
      Cool! Do they have the white covers or black covers?

    2. Tan, or cream, I guess. :) They came in a battered, blue-green box set, and had inscriptions covered over with fancy stickers.

  2. I used to have a movie tie-in copy (not the one pictured though) simply because my dad owns a used bookstore and had those, and offered to give them to me if I'd work a day at the shop. :) I finally decided, after four years, that I was in need of a more serious copy, so I got this set of paperbacks (again for working for a day :D ).
    They're really nice, the covers are Tolkien's original ideas for the jacket design and it came with a little booklet of critical essays.

    1. Oh you are so lucky to get to work with your dad in a bookstore! That would be my dream part-time job :D
      Those are beautiful covers, I really like them!

  3. My first set and my favorite covers was the 1973 Ballantine 2nd edition featuring Tolkien's own watercolors. Here's a link to them:


    Hopefully that shows up okay. I probably got the books in 1977 shortly after my 6th grade teacher read The Hobbit to us. Hard to remember that far back. :)

    Unfortunately I don't think I have that set anymore. It kind of fell apart through multiple re-readings.

    1. Oh I do love the ones with Tolkien's original art. Aw, that's too bad. But at least your books were well-loved to the last :D

  4. I don't have any of these, but I have three editions. I have The Houghten Mifflin 2004 paperbacks which are sort of family owned but might as well be mine. Then the all in one with the picture of Sauron's ring from the movie on it, also sort of not entirely my own.
    And then my very own precious 50th anniversary edition.

    1. Which I think says that I have a thing for beautiful editions of books I love and am far too stupid to just buy some slightly more practical edition.

    2. I'm with you! Even though I had multiple copies of LOTR, when I saw the 50th anniversary edition, I had to add that to my collection also :)