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Lord of the Rings Comparison 3

June 23, 2016

Hello again, and apologies for being out of touch for six months. We’ll fill in the gap as we’re able, but for now would like to catch up on a topic we’ve raised twice before: textual variations between editions of The Lord of the Rings. Since we recently acquired a second boxed set of the three-volume HarperCollins U.K. edition of 2014, labelled A11 in our previous post on the subject, we can report on further corrections, a correction still to be made, and a new error introduced in the correction process.

The HarperCollins three-volume trade hardback of 2014, with dust-jackets reproducing Tolkien’s designs, was meant to include further corrections to the 50th anniversary edition of 2004, but missed some of these and added at least two new errors:

On pp. xvi–xix, our note on the 50th anniversary edition was reprinted from 2004, though we submitted a slightly amended version. This is in error in our earlier copy, the 6th printing, but was corrected by the 8th printing in our new set.

On p. 169, l. 7 from bottom, ‘Dear Frodo,’ (the opening of Gandalf’s letter) was still indented, though it should be flush with the left margin. This was corrected by the 8th printing, but the comma after ‘Frodo’ was mistakenly deleted.

On p. 170, l. 9, we had noted, in regard to the original 50th anniversary setting, that the first line of the poem (‘All that is gold does not glitter,’) should be indented, that is, brought to the left measure of the poem rather than set (with a standard paragraph indent) at the left measure of the larger text block. The typesetter failed to see that this point had been corrected already in this edition, and indented the line still further, too far to the right. It is still in error in the 8th printing.

For p. 1041, n. 1 (etc.), we had discussed issues with footnotes or parts of footnotes in Appendix A which needed to be within quotation marks, to indicate ‘extracts’ from annals or tales. The typesetter has misread this in regard to n. 1 on p. 1043: here, instead of an ‘extract’, followed by a comment not within quotation marks, followed by another extract, the comment has been enclosed in quotation marks, within a larger not in quotation marks. The note should correctly read, with all quotation marks as they should be printed: ‘The sceptre was the chief mark . . . with a silver fillet’ (p. 146; pp. 848, 861, 967). In speaking of a crown . . . Aragorn’s line. ‘The sceptre of Númenor . . . crowning of Aragorn.’ This is an error in the 6th printing of The Return of the King, but was corrected in the 7th printing.

On p. 1100, the death date of Bingo Baggins should not be ‘1363’ but rather ‘1360’. The date is incorrect in the 6th printing, but correct in the 7th.

On p. 1136, l. 7, the name hámfœst (with an oe digraph) was not corrected to hámfæst (with an ae digraph). The digraph is incorrect in the 6th printing, but correct in the 7th.

On p. 1137, l. 29, ‘butterflies to the falcon’ was not corrected to ‘butterflies to the swift falcon’. The phrase is incorrect in the 6th printing, but correct in the 7th.

On p. 1173, index col. 2, entry for ‘Spiders’, the see also note should read ‘Shelob; Ungoliant’, with a semi-colon, but was set instead with a comma. This is incorrect in the 6th printing, but correct in the 7th.

From this, we can say that the corrections in The Return of the King were made in the 7th printing, following on immediately after the 6th, both being in our possession, but we do not yet know if the corrections (and new error) in The Fellowship of the Ring were made in the 7th printing of that volume, which we have not seen, or the 8th, which we have. We would be grateful to hear from anyone with a 7th printing of this edition of the Fellowship who can check the two points in question. We would also like to hear from anyone with a Fellowship later than the 8th printing, if the remaining point, still in error through the 8th, has been corrected.

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8 Comments
  1. June 23, 2016 5:07 pm

    I checked my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring (as I was under the assumption that the other errors have been corrected in my printing) and the only one that remains is no comma after “Dear Frodo” in Gandalf’s letter.

    The first two lines of the poem are indented identically.

    My edition numbers are:

    The Fellowship of the Ring: 9
    The Two Towers: 8
    The return of the King: 8
    Reader’s Companion: 3

    As you can see from my edition numbers, that’s why I hadn’t checked the rest of the errors. If they’ve been fixed in 7th or 8th, I’ve got 8th and 9th.

    • June 23, 2016 5:15 pm

      For good measure I checked the other errors listed and confirm the others have been fixed as of my set / printing, making the “Dear Frodo” the only error of what you have listed.

  2. GFan. permalink
    July 19, 2016 2:35 pm

    Hello and thank you for your great work!

    For A11, does anyone have The Fellowship of the Ring: 10 printing to confirm that the last prevailing error has been corrected (i.e. the comma has been added)?

    For A1, can anyone with a current printing either confirm or deny whether the errors from the previous post have been corrected? I think A1 looks great but it seems silly for me to purchase this if it has so many errors.

  3. Berelach permalink
    July 25, 2016 6:31 pm

    For A11, in The Fellowship of the Ring: 10th printing, the errors from pages 169 and 170 are both continued as they are the 8th printing. The comma after ‘Frodo’ is still absent and ‘All that is gold does not glitter,’ is still indented too far to the right (it is flush with the second line of the poem).

  4. Jeff permalink
    August 9, 2016 11:21 pm

    On a related note, I was saddened to find my A11 was printed in China. Aside from the usual concerns about supporting local industry, I do feel there is a notable quality difference when compared to my UK-printed and US-printed A1s.

    I never owned an A2 so can’t compare to that, but I’m assuming A2 was printed in the UK so would love to see a quality comparison between A2 and A11 (error corrections notwithstanding). Also, do you know if all A11s were printed in China? I’m curious if HC has moved all printing to China. If not I may try to track down a printed-in-the-UK (or even EU) copy.

    • GFan permalink
      August 11, 2016 1:06 pm

      HC has been doing this for a while. The first couple of printings of a new release are made in the EU and then the following printings are made in China. There will be a couple of new Tolkien works released this year, so we will see if the trend continues to make the first printings in the EU or if they decided to move all their printing to China.

  5. Jeff permalink
    August 18, 2016 1:28 pm

    Via email from HC:

    “As we sell stock as it comes in, we can assume that all sales since February 15 have been stock printed in China. Only the first 1,000 of the 5,000 sold in the last two years appear to have been printed in Europe. I hope this helps answer your question.”

    Interesting in that it both confirms the shift to China for later printings, and also gives some scope to how many of these they’ve sold.

  6. Charles permalink
    October 5, 2016 12:00 am

    As well, my brand new HC box set “The Tolkien Treasury” I received last week was printed in China. My edition numbers:

    The Adventures of Tom Bombadil: 8
    Farmer Giles of Ham: 5
    Roverandom: 5
    Smith of Wootton Major: 3

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