A copy of The Hobbit has been sold for £16,ooo after being bought for only 50 pence in 2012.
A then-28-year-old charity worker, Andy Hewson from central London, discovered the old book in a huge haul brought to a friend’s animal welfare charity shop by a couple in a camper-van. In amongst the massive pile of old books was a battered copy of The Hobbit– a book Hewson had previously purchased new but misplaced somewhere. The shop owner said Hewson could have both the copy of The Hobbit and a racy retro cartoon postcard for £1.
Hewson told The Guardian Newspaper: “The dust jacket had an illustration of trees and mountains in blue, green and black with Tolkien’s name beneath. I started reading it on the train back and forth to work. I’m not a fast reader so I was still getting through it a month or so later when, as I was leaving work, a woman from our finance team came up to me, having spotted it in my hand. She said it looked old and that I should look into whether it was worth anything. ”
Hewson learned that only 1,500 copies of The Hobbit were printed in the first run in 1937, and owners of the book can check if they own one by looking for a misspelling of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – AKA Lewis Carroll – printed in notes on the dust jacket. On the first edition the misspelling of “Dodgeson” had to be hand-corrected by the publishers.
Hewson couldn’t believe his luck when he discovered the hand-crossed-out ‘e’ and asked his girlfriend (who then worked at an auction house) to put him in contact with the books department who told Hewson, “I think you might have a very valuable book on your hands.”
Four months later the auction happened- a few weeks before The Hobbit movie came out. They started bidding at £3,000 and quickly leapt higher and higher until it reached £16,000, a surprise to everyone in the room.
Next time you see an old copy of a classic book, take a closer look, it may be worth more than you think!