LONDON -- Rare volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy were the centerpiece of an extensive private book collection auctioned Wednesday for a total of $270,000.
The Tolkien books, including two signed second editions of the first two installments of the trilogy and an unsigned first edition of the third part, were sold to an anonymous bidder for $3,800.
They were among more than 3,000 rare books - sold by Bonham's auction house - that belonged to William Adams, an accountant who died last June at age 84.
A collection of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" containing engravings by Eric Gill attracted the highest bid of $7,500. A 23-volume set of Charles Dickens novels was not far behind with a bid of $7,400.
A copy of James Joyce's "Ulysses," illustrated by Henri Matisse, sold for $2,700.
Bids for the collection were made from buyers in France, the United States and Japan, as well as Britain.
Sandy Burnett, a lawyer who handled Adams' will, said he was amazed to find that every room in Adams' Edinburgh house was filled with books. "They were not just on walls, but under the bed, in the cupboards and in drawers," Burnett said.
Adams' niece, Rona Hendry, said the family had no idea of the extent of her uncle's book collection.
"We knew he loved his books," Hendry, 52, said. "He collected them as long as everyone can remember, but when we saw them all here, we couldn't believe they all got into his house."
Adams' family said he never married, choosing instead to devote his time to his love of literature and Wardie Parish Church, where he was an elder for 50 years.
Wednesday's sale represented around four-fifths of Adams' collection. The remaining books will be sold at another auction in August.
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