About Mark Faith, Tolkien Rare Book Expert.
Mark started in the Tolkien Rare Book business as Mark Faith Books (MFB) in January 2001, mostly as a hobby. As time went we became more and more specialized and began primarily dealing in more expensive Tolkien rare books and memorabilia. Mark very quickly began dealing in millions of pounds worth of rare Tolkien items: books, art and memorabilia. He was dealing with the most valuable and rarest pieces from the beginning, items including a signed Hobbit book which sold for £54,000 and a rare Lord of the Rings set which went for £75,000 in the early days. He has sold at three Hobbit 1st/1st for over £50,000 in recent years. This has made him one of the biggest Tolkien dealers today. Mark has been trading under the name of Festival Art and Books since 2009. He is known as Dogfark on Ebay.
The key to being a Tolkien rare book expert is the shear number of different examples he has personally viewed, bought and sold over 20 years: many thousands and thousands of firsts and early printings. He has sold over 120 first edition sets alone. The condition of the books and especially dust jackets is critical to the value, not simply being a first edition or rare. This first hand experience in Tolkien book condition means customers get exactly the what they pay for, the first time. No wasted time or money buying from dealers who might have general rare book experience, but are not Tolkien rare book specialist.
He has helped a number of collectors to become more comprehensive in their knowledge of Tolkien and has recently supplied some of the rarest and most important items to a private Tolkien museum opening in Switzerland. One avid collector who is a big fan of Mark’s business and describes his dealing with him in the following way, “Mark introduced me to the works of Tolkien a few years ago and he is now coaching me on all things Tolkien and is helping me build up a pragmatic collection. His knowledge and contacts are incredible, they are to die for and I have no hesitation in recommending Mark’s work.”
About Festival in the Shire
Mark used his expertise and extensive contact list to hold one of the biggest Tolkien events in 2010 – Festival in the Shire. Held over three days, there was a comprehensive list of Tolkien experts giving lectures. Art show, stalls, entertainment and fan expo.
We also produce 2-3 smaller, local fan events in the UK and Europe each year.
August 2011 Machynlleth, Wales. Art exhibition, rare books and artists
September 2012 Leiden, Holland. 75th Anniversary of the Hobbit. Art exhibition, rare books and Tolkien merchandise and a program of talks
September 2013 Artist Gallery, Holburn Street, Aberdeen. Art exhibition, rare books and Tolkien merchandise and introduction of the “Rodney Matthew Experience” series of talks
November 2013 Return visit to Aberdeen with a number of visits by the Rodney matthews Experience to schools in the surrounding area.
Mark Faith promoting Tolkien collecting on TV
Mark Faith, founder of Festival Art and Books and Festival in the Shire, as you might of gathered by now, is a prolific collector of rare Tolkien first edition books and posters, he is also a expert on collecting Tolkien merchandise and has recently showcased his knowledge of the subject on a number of television programs including Channel 4’s hugely popular television show Four Rooms which offers sellers of valuable and collectable items a chance to pitch their items to four of the UK’s biggest dealers. Up to 30 dealers are rotated throughout the series to give the viewers variety. They range from the art collector and academic Ruth Meakin to the interior designer and A list dealer Celia Sawyer. Mark did not accept any offers for his Lord of the Rings first editions when he appeared on the show but recently sold the set for £15,000.
He then made two appearances on the new UK version of the Pawn Stars show being aired on the History Channel, the US version has been running since 2009 and is the second most viewed show in North America with over 5 million viewers. Pawn Stars is a reality TV show is based in a pawn shop and depicts the bargaining over the items customers bring in as well as discussing their historical background. The Show has received great critical acclaim, DVD Town praised the show for its cast and the educational value of the items displayed calling it “addictive” and a “Big time winner”. In 2010 Rick Harrison was named pawnbroker of the year due to the fact that Pawn Stars raised awareness and bettered the reputation of the industry. Pawn Stars is also very popular among the viewing public, which is why the show has been aired in over 20 countries including Belgium and Turkey.
Rodney Matthews and Mark Faith appeared on the show on September 9th and Mark appeared again on September 23rd to showcase his rare complete set of the first ten Hobbit impressions alongside Charlie Chaplin’s original tramp suit and the first Manchester United football programme after the Munich air crash:
“…the boys meet a seller looking to part with ten first editions of the JRR Tolkein classic, The Hobbit. The seller’s asking big money for his books, but does the price ring true for this precious literary classic?”