[Update: I just heard from Carl Hostetter that this item is, in fact, authentic. He himself was its original source, though this auction is not his. See the comments.]
I just came across this auction on eBay for a deluxe edition of The Children of Húrin, accompanied by a bookplate purportedly signed by Christopher Tolkien. The signature on the bookplate actually looks pretty authentic, and Christopher Tolkien has been signing bookplates — so, if it’s a forgery, then it’s at least a competent one. But it all comes crashing down with the “copies of the two letter to authenticate de signature.” That’s right. According to the seller, Christopher Tolkien wrote to him personally, in his own hand, enclosing a dozen (!) signed bookplates for his use. Problem is that the letter, even beyond being a very tall tale to swallow in the first place, doesn’t sound much like Christopher Tolkien. [Update: And yet it is; so what do I know?!] Some excerpts:
Here are the sticky labels, written & signed with great pleasure [...] also the two pages of the Quenya text. On the subject of signatures, the Tolkien Estate with its myriad eyes discovered the other day that copies of The Children of Húrin are offered for sale on e-bay, with forged signatures (mine & Alan Lee’s) for $269.95 [...] These items have emerged in Canada & I’m told that the cops are in full chase of the villains. As to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list — this is truly weird: I hope it will not be followed by clamorous disappointment!
Evidently, we are to believe that Christopher Tolkien is on very close terms with the seller [Update: Not with the seller, but with Carl.] (even signing the letter with just his given name), and that this auction (unlike all those sham-auctions he warns us about) in the authentic one. I do give him credit for some pretty creative chicanery here — in the same way you can’t help but admire the techniques of a master pickpocket. And the penmanship is more convincing than usual in such auctions, but otherwise, there’s just no possible way to believe this was written by CJRT. [Update: And yet it was. I’m still shaking my head in surprise.]
And it doesn’t help that the listing itself is full of spelling and grammatical errors. My favorite is: “A truly unic book for your considerations.”
Sadly, there are ten bids already, with the price up to $68.00 (the publisher’s list price is $75.00; Amazon’s discounted price is only $47.25). And there are still more than six days left in the auction. I know this item has been reported to eBay, but unfortunately, there’s little else to be done. But I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
[Update: So as it transpires, the signature is authentic, so bid away if this is something you want to add to your collection.]