With today marking the start of the Chinese New Year, I found myself thinking about what wonderful work from the shelves at Bayliss HQ would fit the bill to celebrate such an auspicious day.

Well, earlier on, my eyes alighted on a superlative first edition of Tolkien's The Hobbit and straight away knew that Smaug would  be the only way to mark the Year of the Dragon!
The last great dragon of Middle-Earth, Smaug is one of Tolkien's greatest villains with the fantasy author Sandra Unerman calling Smaug "one of the most individual dragons in fiction" and Tolkien scholar Anne Petty describing the gold-obsessed dragon as "frightening, but surprisingly knowable".

The first edition you see here marks the first time the world saw Smaug in colour as this is the second impression (published in the same year as the first impression ), which for the first time featured Tolkien's coloured illustrations. They "had been commissioned for their first American edition, and were in the American publisher's hands when Allen & Unwin decided to include them in the second impression. The original art was called back for reproduction in Britain, then returned across the Atlantic" (Hammond & Anderson). 

An important impression, a superlative example and if that wasn't  enough this example once was owned by Tolkien's uncle!

If you'd like to learn more, click on any of the images. I wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year and a wonderful Year of the Dragon.
February 09, 2024 — Oliver Bayliss