- Ingvard Ashby
The library at Oklahoma Baptist University had to be surprised when a package arrived containing all three books of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) series that had been missing from its shelves since 1972.
The anonymous book thief is apparently quite the J.R.R. Tolkien collector; a similar package containing a first-edition of The Hobbit arrived at University of North Texas around the same time as the one in Shawnee.
The letter says the collector replaced his swiped first-edition series of books with a revised second edition.
“I have no excuse for my action, other than a desire to have one of the unrevised editions in my collection,” the letter posted on the Oklahoma subreddit says. “[The books] are essentially the same condition they were in when I took them, other than scraping the university bookplates off the inside covers and bleaching the circulation numbers off the lower spine.”
The first edition LOTR series sells for more than $300, but the book collector/thief said that they wanted to return them to the library where another serious Tolkien scholar might enjoy reading the original text, which includes some unrevised differences.
The story of a book collector traveling across Oklahoma and Texas university libraries in search of first edition LOTR and The Hobbit has entirely too many parallels to the plight of the character Gollum after he lost the all-powerful One Ring to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.
The letter doesn’t mention it, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the collector only returned the books after being discovered by a diverse group of battle-tested travelers repeating the phrase “my precious” while looking at the books.