LONDON (Reuters) - A demolition man stripping a fireplace from the former home of “The Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien stumbled across a postcard to the writer dated 1968, and hopes to sell it for a small fortune.
Stephen Malton, who runs Prodem Demolition in Bournemouth on the south English coast, was working in the house in the nearby town of Poole before it was bulldozed to make way for a new construction project.
“Before we demolish a house we do an internal strip out,” Malton said Tuesday.
“One of the main features was a fireplace, and upon removing that we came across three postcards. The third one was a postcard dated 1968 and addressed to J.R.R. Tolkien.”
Malton said research on the Internet suggested that the carved wooden fireplace with marble inlay, a feature of the house when Tolkien lived there from 1968 to 1972, was already worth up to $250,000.
“To tie in both the fireplace and the postcard, we are talking about a price of around $500,000 for the combined pair,” the 42-year-old told Reuters by telephone.
He contacted the Tolkien Estate, which manages the author’s copyrights, and said that they had given him the all clear to sell the fireplace and postcard. The estate could not immediately be reached for comment.
Malton said he would probably sell the items at auction, although according to local newspaper the Dorset Echo, he has already had an offer from a Tolkien enthusiast in Belgium.
The postcard was addressed to Tolkien at the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth, where he and his wife Edith often stayed.
It is from “Lin,” which Malton believed could be fellow fantasy author Lin Carter who wrote “Tolkien: A Look Behind ‘The Lord of the Rings,’” published in 1969.
Depicting a scene from Ireland, it reads: “I have been thinking of you a lot and hope everything has gone as well as could be expected in the most difficult circumstances.”
Malton was not sure what the “difficult circumstances” might be.
Tolkien had achieved fame by the time he moved to Poole in 1968. His epic “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, already popular before the hugely successful film adaptations appeared, was published in 1954-55.
He remained in Poole until his wife’s death, when he moved back to Oxford. Tolkien died in 1973, aged 81.
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