J. R. R. Tolkien Letter to 8-Year-Old Reader Sells for $38,000 in RR Auction’s Art, Literature, and Classical Music Event

by Brooke Kennedy

For June, RR Auction brought the works of the old and new masters to the forefront for the Art, Literature, and Classical Music auction. More than 150 lots were curated for this sale, giving bidders the choice between different items from authors, composers, and artists alike.

Ludwig van Beethoven handwritten musical manuscript for d ‘Neue Liebe, neues Leben’ [New Love, New Life].

Ludwig van Beethoven became the highlight of the music section. Two items written in his hand came away with the highest prices from the event, with an autograph musical manuscript reaching $225,000 and a handwritten letter selling for $75,000. The manuscript was his first draft for the lied titled ‘Neue Liebe, neues Leben’ [New Love, New Life], a setting of a 1775 poem written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Though Beethoven began work on the symphony in 1798-1799, its final form was not published until early 1808, nearly ten years after the draft sold at auction. The second item, a letter, was originally written to Beethoven’s secretary and close friend Karl Holz.

Another letter, this time written by Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien got quite a bit of attention as well . In this 1961 letter, sold for $38,750, he makes mention of some of his beloved characters and their adventures across Middle Earth.

J. R. R. Tolkien handwritten letter to an 8-year-old reader mentioning characters from novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

“I have in fact written other books in which Hobbits play a main part, and Bilbo makes an appearance — though not as a chief character… But this book or books is very long — (about 6 times as long as The Hobbit), and is in 3 volumes (1) The Fellowship of the Ring (2) The Two Towers (3) The Return of the King,” writes Tolkien to an 8-year-old reader. “It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it… There is not much fun in it — though at the beginning, which is in Bilbo’s village, the Hobbits behave in their usual comic way; but they soon get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures, which make old Smaug seem almost harmless by contrast.”

Other items from the sale included a Charles Dickens inscribed book ($36,541), a Pablo Picasso postcard to Andre Level featuring a sketch of a seaside sun ($22,000), and an F. Scott Fitzgerald signed first edition of This Side of Paradise – his published first novel ($8,316).

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