Abrams, 1977. Rankin, Arthur; Bass, Jules. First Thus. Hardcover. Brittle mylar overwrap has significant tearing, some of which was taped over by previous owner. Interior and boards themselves are pristine. Sticker on upper left of overwrap states that this was used as a deposition exhibit in 5/31/1984.
This is an absolute treasure of a copy, and one of this bookseller's personal favorite items in our catalog, particularly because of the curious nature of this item's former life. To begin: this is a special edition of the fantasy classic with lavish color illustrations from the Rankin Bass animated film of the same year. The mylar overwrap features Smaug the dragon on the front and back covers in a 3-D illusion, much like an animation cel which it is cleverly designed to resemble. Though it contains Tolkein's full, unabridged text, this edition is primarily appealing as an art book. Nearly every page is boldly illustrated in full color, and there are several poster-sized fold-out images throughout.
This particular copy was sold to me by its previous owner, a Mr. Bill Ystrom of Chicago, who related to me this book's fascinating history which I have since verified. In 1974, Mr. Ystrom, along with the Zagone brothers, founded Zagone Studios, a custom latex Halloween mask company. Zagone remains the industry leader in high-end, handmade latex masks, nearly all designed by Mr. Ystrom (whose designs are referred to as BY B.Y.). In the early 1980s, a Chinese company began releasing cheap knockoffs of B.Y.'s masks, and Mr. Ystrom sued the company. The key to proving that Mr. Ystrom personally created these designs was this illlustrated copy of The Hobbit. The book was introduced as evidence (Exhibit 58, according to the sticker on the front cover) alongside several other art books from Mr. Ystrom's library, and he was able to point out the specific illustrations that served as inspiration for his masks. The court ruled in his favor, and Mr. Ystrom was able to retain ownership of his original designs. A bit of hobbit luck certainly didn't hurt. Very good / fair. Item #89