‘Lord Of The Rings’ Posters Expected To Score Thousands After Spending 50 Years In Artist’s Attic

A pair of vintage “The Lord of the Rings” posters from 55 years ago are set to fetch thousands of dollars at auction after spending decades gathering dust in the artist’s attic. The artist behind the series of these highly sought-after posters remained a mystery — until now.

Gandolf poster
Gandolf poster. (credit: Hansons Auctioneers)

Count Dominic Bon de Sousa Pernes, a London-born architectural student, has revealed that he is the creator of these iconic posters. Back in 1969-1970, while studying in Newcastle upon Tyne, Pernes was commissioned by entrepreneur Jack Drury to create three posters depicting the fantasy world of JRR Tolkien. Despite having never done a poster before, Pernes accepted the challenge and spent countless all-nighters working on the designs in his tiny rented room.

The result was a trio of psychedelic prog posters that perfectly captured the essence of Tolkien’s novels. One poster featured the wise wizard Gandalf, leader of the Fellowship of the Ring, while another depicted his fictional horse, Shadowfax. The third poster, which Pernes no longer has the original artwork for, showcased the enigmatic character Gollum.

The posters were an instant hit, but their success was short-lived, as publishers George Allen & Unwin eventually put a stop to their distribution.

For years, Pernes’ original artwork for the Gandalf and Shadowfax posters languished in his attic, forgotten until a surprising discovery four years ago. He learned that prints of his posters from 50 years ago had become prized collectors’ items, changing hands around the world for $445-$510 each.

Now, Tolkien fans have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of this fascinating history. Pernes, now 76, has decided to part with his original signed artwork for the Gandalf and Shadowfax posters. The designs will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on June 4, with a guide price of $2,500-$3,800 each.

Before creating “The Lord of the Rings” posters, Pernes had a surprising connection to the Tolkien family. During his time at Ampleforth College near York in 1966, Pernes was taught Roman History by none other than J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Michael.

Pernes’ designs bear an uncanny resemblance to the characters as they appeared in the later film adaptations of Tolkien’s novels.

“I knew the books extremely well because I’d been taught by Mr Tolkien. It was an extraordinary mix of what I thought the characters looked like based on my reading and interpretation of the books,” says Pernes. “Gandalf’s face was based on Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Old Man.’ Then, years later when the Tolkien Estate released film rights, there was an uncanny resemblance to my characters in the film, especially Gollum and Gandalf.”

Shadowfax poster
Shadowfax poster. (credit: Hansons Auctioneers)

Jim Spencer, director of Hansons’ Rare Book Auctions, believes that the arrival of these important artworks on the open market for the first time will be a big surprise for Tolkien fans.

“Tolkien is one of the most hotly-collected authors right now and the arrival of these important artworks on the open market for the first time ever will be a big surprise for Tolkien fans,” explains Spencer. “Why, when and who created them has been a talking point among collectors for years. This solves the mystery.”

Tolkien has sold over 250 million copies of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books.

Click here for more information about the auction.

HobbyListings editor Matt Higgins and SWNS reporter Ed Chatteron contributed to this report.

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