J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of the most well-known and well-regarded fantasy novels of all time, and set the groundwork for his world of Middle-Earth, which includes the equally popular The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. First published in 1937, The Hobbit’s first run consisted of 1,500 copies and included illustrations from the author himself. Given the age of the book, first editions are increasingly hard to come by, but one charity in the UK found itself in possession of just such an artefact.
As the BBC reports, A Cancer Research shop manager named Adam Carsley discovered the book in the backroom of his store in Dundee. Despite being extremely valuable, Carsley initially thought the “well looked after” copy may be unsellable on the shop’s shelves. Luckily, Carsley suspected there may be more than this novel than met the eye, and gave it a closer look. “I opened the first page to see it was a first edition and thought it may be worthy of sending to the eBay team,” he said. “I thought we’d get a maximum of £500 if we were lucky, so I couldn’t believe it when I heard a few months later it had sold for over £10,000.”
First editions of The Hobbit have a habit of fetching very high prices at auction, with one copy featuring an Elvish inscription hand-written by Tolkien selling for a whopping £137,000, smashing the book’s previous record of a first-edition selling for £60,000 in 2008. It’s even better when one considers that the £10,000 this edition has sold for will go towards research that will help to save lives.
“To my knowledge this is one the most valuable items donated to one of our stores,” added Carsley “Most definitely the highest price achieved on our eBay site for a single item. Donations like these help to fund lifesaving research across the whole of the UK.”