The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Identifying First Edition Points of Issue
First UK edition dust jacket
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The Hobbit by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien or
J.R.R. Tolkien - First Edition Points of Issue
Pages: 310 numbered - 312 total
Publisher: George Allen & Unwin
Date Published: September 21, 1937
Copyright Page: Has the statement: FIRST
PUBLISHED IN 1937 with no additional printing dates
First Edition Total Publication: 1,500
Other First Edition Points of Issue: The
front and back Boards are green with pictorial decorations to
the front, spine and back in blue. Map is shown on both
endpapers in red, black, and white. Top page edges are stained
green. No color illustrations within the book itself, but
included 10 black-and-white illustrations along with the two
maps mentioned previously.
Size: 7.48 x 5.31 inches
Bound: Green boards with pictorial
decorations on the front, spine and back in blue.
Front cover and spine of The Hobbit UK
1937 - 1st/1st UK Allen &
All artwork throughout the book is by Tolkien. Originally
Tolkien intended the flying dragon and the sun on the dust
jacket to be painted red, but budget restraints forced the red
color to be substituted with black.
The UK first printing had no color illustrations
within the book itself with the exception of the two
end pages maps (red, black and white), the book has
10 black and white illustrations along with the two maps, the
original plan was for five maps.
The following is a list of
errors in the first UK edition as listed in Hammond
(J.R.R. Tolkien - A Descriptive
1. page 14, ll. 17-18, 'find
morning', for 'fine morning'.
2. page 17, ll. 29-30, "So you
have got here at last! what (for That) was what he was going to
3. page 25, l. 11, 'more fierce
then fire' for 'more fierce than fire'.
4. page 62,
ll. 2-3, 'uncomfortable palpitating' for 'uncomfortable,
5. page 62,
l. 31, 'their bruises their tempers and their hopes' for 'their
bruises, their tempers and their hopes'.
6. page 64,
l. 21, 'where the thrush knocks' for 'when the thrush
7. page 85,
l. 10, 'far under under the mountains' for 'far under the
8. page 104,
l. 17, 'back tops' for 'black tops'.
9. page 147,
l. 16, 'nor what you call' for 'not what you call'.
10. page 183,
l. 26, reversed double quotation marks for the word
11. page 205,
l. 32, 'dwarves good feeling' for 'dwarves' godd
12. page 210,
l. 29, 'above stream' for 'above the stream'.
13. page 215,
l. 13, 'door step' for 'doorstep'.
14. page 216,
l. 4, 'leas' for 'least'
15. page 229,
ll. 16-17, 'you imagination' for 'your imagination'.
16. page 248,
l. 32, 'nay breakfast' for 'any breakfast'.
Here is a detailed list of the
illustrations in the first UK edition:
The Hill: Hobbiton Across the Water
Page 49: The Trolls
Page 68: The
Page 117: The Misty Mountains
Looking West from the Eyrie Towards Goblin Gate
Page 126: Beorn's Hall
Page 146: Mirkwood (halftone
plate facing page 146)
Page 177: The Elvenking's
Page 196: Lake Town
Page 209: The Front
Page 307: The Hall at Bag
front endsheet: Thror's Map. printed in black and red
back endsheet: Wilderland, printed in black and red
1937 - 1st/2nd UK Allen &
By December 15, 1937, the first printing of The Hobbit was
sold out and a second printing of 2,300 copies was
published. On the copyright page "SECOND IMPRESSION
1937" The book was actually published in January
1938. During the World War II bombing of London in 1940,
423 unbound copies were destroyed by a fire at the bindery of
Key & Whiting leaving only 1,877 copies.
This second printing had four illustrations in color. The
line drawing of the Hill: Hobbiton Across the Water (p4) was
replaced by a color frontispiece of The Hill: Hobbiton Across
the Water. Three other color plates were added: The Fair Valley
of Rivendell facing page 59, Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the
Raft Elves, facing page 192, and Conversation with Smaug,
facing page 228.
The second impression is the only UK 1st edition published with
4 color and 9 black and white illustrations, and is easily
First American edition dust jacket of The
1938 - 1st/1st US Edition
The first impression of the
first US edition was published in 1938 by Houghton Mifflin Co.
of Boston & New York. This book has tan cloth binding over
boards, imprinted with a red hobbit bowing to the
left in the upper right of the title on the front. The
dust jacket in blue with the Hobbiton frontispiece in color in
front. Title page shows outline of the same hobbit
bowing similar to the cover. Again all of the artwork is
by Tolkien. 5.94 x 8.27 inches and 310 numbered pages.
Title page hobbit insignia was changed to the publisher's
device of a seated flautist during the first edition run.
It is unknown how many of each were published.
The first impression , or first state of the American
edition was published in 1938. The number of copies of the
first state is unknown. The second impression , or second state
was published March 1, 1938 and limited to 5,000 copies. The
first American editions of the Hobbit were published by
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. The first American editions
differed significantly from the UK editions by the inclusion of
four of Tolkien's color plates. Two of these were used on the
dust jacket, the Hill: Hobbiton Across the Water (on the front
cover) and Conversation with Smaug (on the back cover).
Houghton-Mifflin also decided to place a small figure of
a hobbit bowing to the left on the title page and the
cover. Notice that this hobbit wore boots! To be fair to
the publisher, this hobbit was modeled on the hobbit figure in
Tolkien's illustration, Conversation with Smaug. The hobbit in
the illustration also wears boots. This figure was removed at
some point in production during the second impression run.
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