Collector’s Corner: Collecting Everything vs. Specialized Collections

In this week’s Collectors Corner post we’ll talk about having a specialized collection versus collecting everything.

A few weeks ago, I’ve ordered my fourth illustrated edition of The Hobbit. The edition is from 1992 and features illustrations by Michael Hague. The other three illustrated editions of The Hobbit are a German translation from 1999 illustrated by Alan Lee, an English illustrated edition from 2013 featuring Jemima Catlin’s artwork, and a Russian translation from 1992 illustrated by Mikhail Belomlinsky (which is my favourite illustrated edition!). I never consciously planned to collect different illustrated editions of The Hobbit, but looking back, I’ve always had an interested illustrated editions of Tolkien’s work.

My collection is small, but growing. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even considered myself to be a Tolkien collector. The way I saw my habit of continuously purchasing Tolkien related stuff was that “it is just this one more item”. So for the majority of my life as a Tolkien fan, I obtained whatever I fancied at that moment and whatever my wallet would allow.

My illustrated Russian edition

The more I interacted with Tolkien collectors, the more I realized I was one as well. From that moment onward, I began to consciously look for items to add to my collection. I’ve also read more about and talked to other collectors and realized that some have a very specialized collection. Some, specialize on collecting Weta Workshop collectibles, others are on the hunt for different translated editions of Tolkien’s works. Yet, other have no specialty whatsoever and collect whatever interests them.

For a while, I’ve thought about specializing different illustrated editions of The Hobbit. Across the globe, artists have interpreted Bilbo’s adventures in vastly different ways and a part of me wants to collect them all. I’ve talked to other members of our team here on Middle-earth News and Valdis, for example, shared her view on this topic:

“I’ve considered trying to focus on particular volumes to collect. However, I have to confess that I have absolutely no will to resist opportunities to collect Tolkien. I can’t pass up a handsome edition of just about anything Tolkien or Tolkien related. I don’t think I could ever choose one book over another to collect. For me, it would almost feel like neglecting an old friend. ”

Personally, I share Valdis’ view. Despite a part of me wanting to specialize my collection and focus only on, let’s say, illustrated editions of Tolkien’s work, another part cannot commit to such thing. I’m too excited to collect action figures, Weta Workshop collectibles, stationary and everything else that catches my attention. I admire those with a curated, specialized collection, but I don’t think that I’m that type of collector.

What about you? What type of collector are you? Do you collect everything or are you on the hunt for very specific items only? Leave a comment down below!

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  1. To be honest, I do not know… I tried focusing first on having all The Hobbit translations I could find. My travelling friends helped me A LOT in this task, but soon enough I met some other collectors and my web spreaded. I wanted one in each language (missing 3 almost impossible languages yet), then one in each translation… and then, when my friends (and me, too) found it too difficult, I found myself asking for different covers and editions.
    My aim is not to find EVERY edition, but to enjoy finding different books. It could be almost impossible to go on if I just got stuck on my first target (one in each language) or even the second one (one in each translation). Now I enjoy finding bargains online and in secondhand bookstores.

  2. I don’t feel the need to finish sets, I only collect what I like – however random it might be! What I like is always changing though, so I try to rotate things out if I’m not that excited about it anymore.

    Although, I have a skill of rewatching/rereading the same thing over and over again without ever getting tired of it, a rare skill that is usually not appriciated by humans and may or may not be an actual skill.. I’m still putting it on my resume, along with mediocre gamer.

  3. This is a big problem for me, I do try to specialise but there are 2 problems a; the really special items in an area are quite obscure and/or very very expensive and/or hard to find, so it is very hard to be a completest, b; there is just so much great Tolkien stuff out there that it’s too hard to resist not getting anything when I get the opportunity. So I accumulate anything I can find/afford, although I do say I specialise in some particular areas: Tolkien related board games, computer games, BBC dramatisation, action figures, calendars … (just not exclusively). I do enjoy researching specific areas and there is nothing better than identifying, and ideally getting hold of, something I wasn’t aware of.

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