An Illustrated Tolkien Bibliography

Variations in the
Shaping of Middle-earth Dustwrapper
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Publishing The Lord of the Rings
The First Impression of RotK
VI  The First Boxed Edition
VII  The Readers Union Edition
VIII  The First Deluxe Edition
IX  Printing and Binding LotR
XIV  LotR: A Bibliography
XV  LotR: A Bibliography of Slipcases

The History of Middle-earth series
A Guide to the Contents
II  Prices on Dustwrappers
III  Original Retail Prices
IV  Print Run Sizes
The Guild Publishing Editions
VI  Shaping of Middle-earth Wrapper
VII  Peoples of Middle-earth Pulped?

Other Articles
Christopher Tolkien Bibliography
I Think I've Got A Hobbit
Missing Images
Nasty Tricksy Hobbits
Printing and Binding The Hobbit
Songs for the Philologists
The Princess Hobbit
-- Ferguson Dewar
-- Letter from J. R. R. Tolkien
-- Gandalf: Not 'Magician' but 'Wizard'
-- Visions of Gollum
-- Of Smaug and the Jabberwock
-- Magazine Gallery
Tolkien Calendars
Tolkien the Esperantist?
Tolkien's Languages and Alphabets
Unpublished Manuscript Found?

The Shaping of Middle-earth - First Edition Introduction
Differences between the dustwrappers
Summary of the variations
An explanation?
Other impressions
Another explanation?

The Shaping of Middle-earth is, from a bibliographic point of view, perhaps the most interesting volume in The History of Middle-earth.  It was first published on 21 August 1986 by George Allen & Unwin and 6000 copies of the first impression were printed.  In addition, 4000 copies were printed separately for Guild Publishing (aka Book Club Associates).  Other than the presence or absence of a printed price on the dustwrapper, most volumes in the series display very few variations, however the dustwrapper for The Shaping of Middle-earth appears in a number of states:

  • Three with the Allen & Unwin branding (States 1, 2 and 3)
  • One with that of Guild Publishing (State 4)

Differences between the dustwrappers
The first difference between the dustwrappers is the publisher's name at the base of the spine. There are two variants:

  • States 1, 2 and 3 have 'Allen & Unwin'
  • State 4 has 'Guild Publishing'
The Shaping of Middle-earth - Foot of spine

Things get more complicated when we look at the front flap. Here there are three variants:

  • State 1 has the price printed in the lower right hand corner
  • State 2 has the price added on an A&U sticker
  • States 3 and 4 are unpriced
The Shaping of Middle-earth - Front flap

There are also two variants of the rear flap:

  • States 1, 2, and 3 have 'ISBN 0 04 823279 3' on the bottom edge
  • State 4 has 'CN 9286'.
The Shaping of Middle-earth - Rear flap

For the lower cover of the dustwrapper there are again three variants:

  • State 1 has the ISBN and barcode printed in the lower right hand corner:
The Shaping of Middle-earth - Printed ISBN on lower cover
  • State 2 has the ISBN and barcode added on a sticker:
The Shaping of Middle-earth - ISBN added on label to lower cover
  • States 3 and 4 have neither:
The Shaping of Middle-earth - No ISBN on lower cover

Summary of the variations
These differences can be summarised as follows:

State Spine Front Flap Rear Flap Lower Cover
1 Allen & Unwin Price printed ISBN number ISBN printed
2 Allen & Unwin Price on label ISBN number ISBN/barcode on label
3 Allen & Unwin No price ISBN number No ISBN
4 Guild Publishing No price CN number No ISBN

An explanation?
On page 261 of his bibliography, Wayne Hammond offers the following explanation for the two Allen & Unwin States (2 and 3) that lacked a printed price:

"The jacket without printed price (variants 2 and 3) was intended for book club use.  Allen & Unwin seem to have printed more volumes than jackets for their own edition, and more jackets than volumes for the book club edition."

Whether Wayne had documentary evidence for this explanation, or if it was just a supposition, is uncertain, but it seems to be contradicted by the copies seen. Why would Allen & Unwin print two types of dustwrappers for Guild Publishing? i.e. some State 4 ('Guild Publishing' on the spine and 'CN 9286' on the rear flap) and some State 3 ('Allen & Unwin' on the spine and 'ISBN 0 04 823279 3' on the rear flap). In addition, the survey for this article found no copies of the 1st Impression of the Guild Publishing edition in Allen & Unwin dustwrappers.

The Guild Publishing editions of volumes 1-5 of the History of Middle-earth series are all easily identified by the 'Guild Publishing' branding on the dustwrapper, binding and preliminary pages. Why would they use A&U jackets on the Guild edition just for this one title?

If the dustwrapper without the printed price and ISBN/barcode was not for book club use then why was it produced?

Other impressions
There are five other impressions that might shed additional light on this matter - unfortunately it looks like two do not exist and one of the others is a curious hybrid of Allen & Unwin and Guild Publishing features.

Allen & Unwin, 2nd Impression, 1986 - Not seen.  Does not exist? 

Allen & Unwin, 3rd Impression, 1987 - Not seen. Does not exist? 

Unwin Hyman, 4th Impression, 1988 - Dustwrapper has Unwin Hyman logo on spine, ISBN on rear flap but no ISBN/barcode on the lower cover.  Probably had a printed price on front flap, but copies seen are price-clipped.

Guild Publishing, 2nd Impression, 1986 - Copies seen are in an A&U binding, most in what appears to be a price-clipped State 1 dustwrapper, and one other in a State 3 dustwrapper.  One of these State 1 dustwrapper had an Unwin Hyman price sticker on the clipped front flap.  In addition, an ex-library copy has been seen, rebound in dark red buckram with a State 1 dustwrapper.

Guild Publishing, 3rd Impression, 1987 - State 4 dustwrapper.

The hybrid A&U/Guild 2nd Impression appears to have been used by both publishers, explaining the lack of any 2nd Impression A&U copies.  As no copies of the Guild Publishing 3rd Impression have been seen in A&U dustwrappers, it seems probable that it was only used by Guild Publishing.  If nothing else, these reprints show that the production process for this particular volume was not a simple matter.

Another explanation?
If Wayne Hammond's explanation for the three states of the A&U dustwrapper is incorrect then some other explanation is required.  Forgetting the price stickers and ISBN/barcode labels for a moment, there are just two variants of the dustwrapper:

A - No printed price and no printed ISBN/barcode (States 2 and 3)
B - Price printed on the front flap and ISBN/barcode printed on the lower cover (State 1)

A - the same style as the dustwrapper for both volumes of The Book of Lost Tales (1983-84)
B - the same style as the dustwrapper for The Lays of Beleriand (1985) & The Lost Road (1987)

It may be that the first batch of dustwrappers was produced in the old style (A) in error, and when this was realised and a second batch of dustwrappers was required, this was printed in the new style (B).  This second batch may have been due to an increase in the size of the print run.  A&U only started putting the ISBN/barcode on the lower cover of hardcover books in 1985, so it seems feasible that the odd error or omission crept in - even by 1988 not all dustwrappers displayed the ISBN/barcode.

Allen & Unwin seemingly decided to use the old format dustwrappers, converting some of them by adding the price label to the front flap and the ISBN/barcode label to the lower cover.  Sufficient numbers of dustwrappers in both styles remained after the completion of the 1st Impression for them to be used on the hybrid A&U/Guild 2nd Impression.


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