Hidden Treasure: A First Edition of Tolkien’s The Hobbit Discovers New Life and Fetches Over £10,000 for Charity
In the realm of book collecting, few things match the thrill of discovering a rare gem — especially when it comes from an unexpected place. In a heartwarming tale that mirrors the adventure within its pages, a first edition copy of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit was found in a charity shop and sold for more than £10,000. The remarkable find was unearthed in the Cancer Research UK superstore in Dundee, illustrating that sometimes, extraordinary journeys can begin in the most ordinary places.
The rare copy, which is among the initial 1,500 that were quickly sold out after publication in 1937, was found by the superstore manager, Adam Carsley. Given the book's age and significance, it was deemed unfit for sale on the shop floor, where items typically sell for £5 or less. Therefore, the decision was made to list the book on eBay, where it eventually fetched a staggering £10,099.50 for the charity.
This first edition is particularly unique because it contains black and white illustrations by Tolkien himself, adding an intimate touch from the author to the beloved children's classic. Carsley, who was at the Dundee store for training new managers and organising stock, came across the fantasy novel amidst hundreds of books in the backroom.
"I opened the first page to see it was a first edition and thought it may be worthy of sending to the eBay team," Carsley recalled. To his surprise, the book fetched far more than he had initially anticipated, making it one of the most valuable items ever donated to their stores.
This sale follows another high-profile rare children's book sale. In July, a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone went up for auction and was sold to a Los Angeles buyer for £10,500. The book, one of only 500 published by Bloomsbury in 1997, was originally bought for just 30p when a library withdrew it from use.
These remarkable tales of discovery highlight not only the enduring appeal of classic literature, but also the extraordinary potential of charity and second-hand bookstores as treasure troves of hidden gems. It's a reassuring reminder that every book has a story, and sometimes, the book's own journey can be just as fascinating as the tale within its pages