It would have been the late JRR Tolkien’s 120th birthday today, and with the film of The Hobbit on the horizon, the great man has been on our mind a bit of late. So much so, in fact, that we dug out our battered old copy of The Lord of the Rings and started thumbing through it again over the holiday season. It’s one of about a gazillion different editions of Tolkien’s books that have been published around the world since The Hobbit first appeared in 1937 — so to celebrate its author’s birthday, we’ve put together a gallery of some of the most beautiful and/or weird cover artwork that’s adorned Tolkien’s work over the years. (Many of these come from the exhaustive gallery of covers here and/or from the Tolkien Library, both excellent resources for Tolkien completists.)
This is Tolkien trainspotters’ holy grail — a genuine first edition of The Hobbit (Or There and Back Again) dating way back to 1937. The dust jacket artwork is Tolkien’s own, and was used on subsequent reprintings — if you can find one of these original copies, it’ll set you back a cool $30,000 or so.