My name is Henk Brassien. I was born in 1948, in a little village called Den Hulst, above the butchery of my grandfather’s. Maybe there my Bourgundian way of life started?
I went to school, to university (for not too long), found a job, got married, got two sons (plus one granddaughter (Nola – July 2008) and one grandson (Milan – November 2010 )), got divorced (1989; my ex-wife and I still like each other in a way, go on holiday together etc.) and live in the city of Zwolle, in the eastern part of The Netherlands.
In 2007 I had to move because of my Tolkien collection. I now have a library with lots of room for my books. But for how long? Almost every week new books arrive ….
In my daily job in Human Resources I helped colleagues – who lost their jobs because of internal reorganisations – to find another job. In 2010 pre-pension followed and gave me lots of time for my Tolkien hobby.
My ultimate wish? A small bookshop with lots of books by and on Tolkien, with a large table where you can drink a (preferably Belgian) beer while deciding to buy that book or not. But alas, in Holland that combination is forbidden!
Alas, no bookshop / pub. But I do have a bookshop on the internet: www.hobbithunterbookshop.com, where I sell my more than 1.500 duplicate copies of books by and on Tolkien. Be welcome there.
How did I get started in collecting?
In 1960 my schoolmaster in the fifth form of a primary school (I was 11 years old then) was Mr. Van Dijk. He used to read books every last hour Friday afternoon. He was reading De Hobbit. It struck me like lightning and I wanted the book for myself. Saved my pocket money for five weeks (Hfl 1,25, about EUR 0,60, yes!!) and went to the local bookshop. Mr B. H. Kok said that he did not sell that book to children. I was completely knocked-down and left the shop. A trauma! At that time I was not keen enough to tell him that Tolkien wrote the book for his children.
It took me until 1975 to get a first Tolkien book of my own. I wanted revenge, I started to collect.
What do I collect?
I collect books by and on Tolkien. But, as it is impossible (and too expensive, too) to collect everything, I specialized in collecting The Hobbit. All the Dutch imprints (as far as I know, there are 85 prints since the first Dutch print in 1960. I now have those 85 prints) and at least one copy of any language in which The Hobbit ever was published. As far as I know, there are some 67 different translations of The Hobbit. Who knows the exact number of translations?
My missing ones? See “Hobbits I want”. Only a few missing languages, but I don’t have all the different covers of The Hobbit world-wide yet. If anyone of you has a missing Hobbit: go to contact me, please.
How big is my collection?
My collection is larger than 1.850 items at this moment (March, 2013) and still growing. Thanks to the internet . Almost all the items are books. I have more than 450 Hobbits in 67 languages. As I said, there are 85 Dutch Hobbits (31 different covers!), but also 35 German Hobbits (including the first print 1957), 127 English, 29 French, 44 Russian, 20 Spanish, 19 Italian, etc. Plus some Tolkien-inspired music (LP’s and CD’s), board games (that I never play), folders, calendars, The History of Middle-Earth, books on Tolkien, etc.
What has been my greatest find so far?
Hard to say. Many finds are precious to me. Because they are scarce or just beautiful. You want some examples? Well, there is of course the first Hobbit I ever had (1975), the first imprint of the Dutch LotR (1956 – 1957, with dust jackets, only 3.000 sets were printed) and the Linguaphone LP-set on which Tolkien reads two chapters (Dutch and French version). And the five first translations of The Hobbit: Sweden 1947, Germany 1957, Holland 1960, Poland 1960 and Portugal 1964. Or what to say of some Russian Hobbits with beautiful illustrations?And, not to forget a great recent find: a Hobbit from Cuba (1989)!
What does collecting mean to me?
- Collecting is a way of life. Freud once said, that collecting is because of lack of mother’s love in your youth (but, he has been wrong before).
- Collecting is trying to get something complete. But at the same time: nothing is worse than a collection that is complete. It is the end of the hunt.
- Collecting also is meeting people (thanks to the internet), helping each other to get that one missing book etc.
- Collecting also is asking friends that go to a country with a Hobbit that I do not have: “Get me a …. Hobbit”. And you know what? They had the time of their live, met all kinds of nice people etc. I think I will start a Travel Company called The Hobbit Hunter someday.
- Collecting is the ultimate joy of finding THAT item.
Is it an illness? Yes, it is. Do you have to be treated? No, no one can really help you.
If ever I could ever be someone else, I would like to be a Hobbit. And have a nice and peaceful life, give and get presents, have a good meal, smoke a pipe and live long and prosperous.