Barliman’s chatroom regular Ugluk found this in his mail today:

On this day in 1954 the first book of J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was published. Nobody much noticed. Source: The Daily Mail

Sometimes it takes a while for a good thing to receive its due. I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere else, so if you can please drop a line. Thanks Ugluk for the tip!

UPDATE: Robert refered me to page 183 of The Letters of JRR Tolkien where I find this, “…The Fellowship of the Ring, was published on 29 July 1954.” Sounds definitive to me, thanks Robert!