A precious collection of early editions of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit are being sold on ebay for almost £50,000.
The book, said to have been influenced by the author’s childhood in Birmingham, has attracted a new generation of fans following last year’s release of a Hobbit film.
The set of books includes one of each of the first ten printings of the first and second editions of the tale about hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
On the internet auction site, the Welsh bookseller tells budding buyers it is “perhaps the most unique offering to Tolkien book collectors”, the result of five years “of painstaking effort to collect them all”.
Tolkien came to live in Birmingham as a five-year-old in 1895. The area was to leave an everlasting impression.
He said of Sarehole, where he once lived: “It was a kind of lost paradise. I could draw you a map of every inch of it. I loved it with an intense love. I was brought up in considerable poverty, but I was happy running about in that country.
“I took the idea of the Hobbit from the village people and children.”
Since it was first published in 1937, the story has sold 100 million copies and been translated into 50 languages.
A signed first edition sold for £60,000 five years ago.
The Machynlleth-based seller, Festival Art and Books, added: “These were children’s books and the jackets suffered wear and tear, even when the books were new. But over the years the paper has become brittle and delicate with age.
“The books are in very good condition, considering they are well loved and have been read often.
“Some have slight gift inscriptions, some of the middle impressions have ‘ghosting’ on the book spine or covers where the white of the image has been burned from the sun.”