The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, First American Edition, 1938

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit or There and Back Again. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1938. First American Edition. Rebound in full leather and housed in a custom slipcase.

This is the first American edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit or There and Back Again. This printing was published in 1938, only one year after the British edition. The first American edition includes four of Tolkien’s color plates while the British edition has none.  This 310-page novel has been beautifully rebound in full crushed morocco leather, all edges have been gilt, and an early image of “Smaug” is stunningly gilt embossed on the front board. This timeless novel is housed in a protective archival slipcase designed to match. 

This is a second edition, sixth impression of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. This printing was published in 1954 with only a total of 2,500 copies printed in the publication run. When the second edition was issued, the impression numbering was continued on from the first edition, i.e. starting from the fifth impression not from the first impression. The impressions were not re-numbered until 1968. There were eleven impressions of the second edition printed between 1951 and 1965. 

The Hobbit follows the quest of the main character Bilbo Baggins as he ventures to win a treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest with the introduction of new characters as Bilbo journeys through unknown territories. The book focuses on the character’s personal growth and a developed sense of heroism. Critics believe the themes and story line to be developed from Tolkien’s own experiences during World War I.

Upon its first release, the novel was met with unwavering and practically unanimous praise. Following financial and critical success, Tolkein was encouraged to write a sequel. Tolkein’s work progressed on the successor The Lord of the Rings, and he made significant changes to The Hobbit in the second edition of the work to accommodate it. To this day, The Hobbit has never gone out of print and remains a prominent work in the genre of high fantasy, especially following cinematic adaptations.


Overall very good condition. This first American edition of Tolkien’s The Hobbit  has no notable damage to the interior pages. The colors are vibrant and all text is clearly legible. The book has been professionally rebound in full crushed morocco leather with gilt embossed designs on the front board and spine. The spine also features five raised bands and the interior has handmade marbled endpapers. The book is housed in a matching red cloth archival slipcase similarly decorated to match the book’s design.

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