Collecting has always been in my nature, and I think it's something I picked up from my parents. Growing up, I remember my father had an impressive science fiction collection in our enormous family bookshelf, and my mother was constantly adding Stephen King and other crime novels to the mix. From a very early age, I was fond of reading. As I grew older, fondness evolved into obsession, and it was not at all unlike me to become interested in something and then go a bit overboard and completely absorb myself in it.
|My first copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings|
In the fifth grade, my obsession at the time was Brian Jacques' Redwall books. Once I had exhausted that series, my uncle suggested I try reading The Hobbit. Reluctantly, I agreed and borrowed his copy. I was so in love that I immediately wanted to read The Lord of the Rings. For my birthday that year, my parents surprised me with a one-volume edition (technically the first item in my collection!), which I could not put down. I wanted more. I started saving money and visiting local bookstores several times a month to try and build up my Tolkien library. After I had acquired the basics – The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, etc. – I decided that not only did I want every book by or about Tolkien, but I wanted every version of every book. There are so many different editions and translations available that my collection will probably never be complete. And that's something that truly excites me.
Adding to my collection was a bit of a challenge at first, however. I was in middle school when I started collecting, and many of the items I wanted were well out of my price range. I often had to choose between items, which was always heartbreaking, as sometimes when I went back for the item(s) I'd passed on, they'd be out of stock.
The first non-book item that I wanted in my collection was the One Ring. It took some time, but eventually I saved up enough birthday and Christmas money to purchase a gold-plated replica of the One Ring from MyPrecious Fantasy Webshop. I was so proud of myself for saving my money and not caving in to the temptations of buying more books that I wore that ring around my neck religiously for the remainder of middle and high school. When I realised how gratifying the big purchases could be – especially when I had paid for them myself – I continued to save up, and eventually added the Evenstar and the rings Nenya and Barahir to my collection.
|The One Ring in sterling silver and gold-plating|
I have collected a good deal of movie merchandise over the years, but books are my priority – especially used copies. I love purchasing a copy that may have been someone else's first trip to Middle-earth. It makes my heart soar knowing that someone truly enjoyed the books as much as I do; and yet at the same time, I couldn't imagine ever selling any of my books, so I feel just a slight tinge of sadness that someone would part with theirs. (Of course, if people didn't get rid of their copies, I wouldn't have some of mine!)
|One of my favourite sets, illustrated by Barbara Remington|
Meeting and befriending other collectors is an added bonus. There is a mentality between collectors, at least in my experience, that everyone sticks together and helps one another out, rather than try and turn collecting into a competition. There will always be someone who has more items, rarer items, or items in better condition; but at the end of the day, everyone is supportive of one another, and most of the time are more than willing to help one another add to their collections. I have many "benefactors", both on and off of the Internet, who have found books I either hadn't seen before or have had great difficulty finding myself. And in return, I try to do the same for them. Collecting is even more enjoyable when you can share the experience with others.
And one person who really shares my passion is my father, who has become a Tolkien collector by proxy. He has never read the books, but he is quite fond of the films. And like me, he is a collector at heart, so he has no problem accompanying me and picking out new items for my collection (and sometimes he even buys things for himself). That he and I can use Tolkien as a means of strengthening our father-daughter bond is what makes my Tolkien collection so special. Every item in my collection has a memory attached, and almost every memory is in some way connected to my father.
I have no intention of selling any items in my collection; and even if I did, the monetary value of my items is of little importance to me. The memories are what make them invaluable.
|My most recent acquisition: the unauthorised ACE editions!|