If you happened to have some spare pocket change at a recent Sotheby’s auction, you could have picked up a first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit for a mere £ 137,000, or the equivalent of about $214, 370 U.S. dollars at today’s exchange rate. This first edition, which more than doubled the record for sales of The Hobbit book, was a very special one indeed: it included an inscription by the author in Old English to a former student, Katherine Kilbride.
“Tolkien inscribed only a “handful” of presentation copies of The Hobbit on its publication, said Sotheby’s, with CS Lewis also a recipient. Kilbride’s includes an inscription by the author in Old English, identified by John D Rateliff, author of The History of The Hobbit, as an extract from Tolkien’s The Lost Road. This time-travel story, in which the world of Númenor and Middle-earth were linked with the legends of many other times and peoples, was abandoned by the author incomplete.”
Read the full story, and see if you can decipher the inscription, at theguardian.com.