The JRR Tolien Logo explanation - Fun facts monogram drawing.

litterature lotr portrait explained

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, father of the middle Earth stories, had this incredible monogram made by himself  : Putting his Initials in a typographic art, he used that symbol to sign some of his original artwork.

jrrt tolking logo monogram art print

If you want more explanation about the logo, let's go inside the drawing !

jrrt tolkien logo monogram drawing detail

Let's do some Fonts monogram with J J R T letters

I've tried to do the same work that tolkien did when building up his monogram.

I've used the -Ringbearer- font you could find here, and stacks the 4 letters one on each other :

jrrt tolkien monogram fonts

The second "R" is in Russian mode and the result is pretty close to the Tolien symbol except for the 2 packs of four dots and the flame on the top of it. So what does they mean and is there something more than his initials ?

 Based on this Reddit chat, there are several options :

  • Tolkien loved calligraphy and could explain all this
  • He got inspired by the chinese symbol shú but no explanations for the dots
  • This is not the monogram used by Tolkien

Based on this second chat here, there are thoses others proposals:

  • In runes, words are divided by dots (but it's not written in runes !)
  • the full evolution of the symbol 1906-1936
  • the dots are flower petals
  • The dots may comes from the four separators between each letters : J.R.R.T.  - but why two sets of 4 dots ?

History of the tolkien Monogram

As i can't have the sources of the modern monogram, i've done investigations with looking at the books editions and Tolkien's illustrations :

tolkien monogram evolution 1911 1937

The Monogram did evolve ! As a matter of facts, the tolkien monogram seems to have been done without dots and flame till 1937. This add-on may have been done after his death by publishers or designers. but  monogram picture of the 50's or 60's or 70's is very rare or almost impossible to find.

After reading the Tolkien biography, i see that some works were published by his son after JRRTolkien passed away (1973). Here are the results of the 1965 - 1983 period :

  1. Lotr second edition (1965) : no monogram on the book
  2. LOTR third edition (1979) : no monogram on the book
  3. the silmarillion (1977) - no monogram found on the book
  4. Unfinished tales (1980) - the monogram is there but not the 2 packs of 4 dots
  5. The shape of Middle Earth (1983) - We now have the final Monogram Version ! 10 years after JRRTolkien passed away.

tolkien-monogram-evolution-history-1977-1986

So we can say that the actual monogram we know was modified after Tolkien Death. The flame appears in the late 80's and the dots appears in the 80's. Who did this change ?  I suspect the Tolkien Estate or Publishers, aspiring to a more "runic" Logo following the success of the author !

Now that we have the history of this monogram, let's go to the inside of this symbol !

Runes written all around the Tolkien logo

Do you remember the ring, the one that when placed in a fire show inscription in the "Black Speech" language, well this inscription on the inner side of the One ring is represented all around the JRR Tolkien logo, a sort of Sauron Poem :
Ash nazg durbatulûk,ash nazg gimbatul,

Ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul - Sauron -

For the non-fluent in black language :

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them - Sauron -

The Original Author, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote it near his fireplace cottage while smoking his pipe..

1-jrrt-tolkien-write-book-smoking-pipe

Now, let's have a look at the next Runes of the Poem :

 

The One ring and the others

The runes told the story of the rings origins : the Rings for all the Kings and Lords of the midlle Earth and the One which control all of them.

 Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, 

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,

 

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

 One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie,

 

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie,

jrrt-tolkien-logo-art-print-framed

The Story around the One Ring

Gandalf was suspicious of the Ring, and later forced the real story from Bilbo. 

the ring and the hobbit shire

Frodo chased by the black riders

The Nazgûl of lotr the Black Riders

After the Council of Elrond, the fellowship is founded.

the fellowship of the ring

To help the Fellowship to escape from the moria, Gandalf fought the Balrog

you shall not pass gandalf balrog

 

The fellowship lost Gandalf but escaped from the doom

 fellowship escape from the moria

Meanwhile, Saruman raise an Orc Army in Isengard

The Orcs of Isengard, an army born from the deep pits around Saruman tower : a large numbers of powerful warrior Orcs called  "Uruk-hai".

saruman and his orc army in isengard

Treebeard, leader of the Ents fight back

Treebeard, leader of the Ents, seeing that the Orcs would destroy his forest of Fangorn, led an army of trees to Isengard, destroyed and flooded it.

Treebeard, leader of the Ents

The eye of Sauron can see everything

 

the tower i can see you sauron

Gandalf the white is back at the helm deep battle

gandalf the white is back and help at helm deep battle

Meanwhile in Gondor, the sword is reforged

Narsil was a longsword used by his Isildur to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand during the battle of the last alliance. The shards of Narsil were reforged by the Elves.

the gondor tree and horses

The end of Sauron, gollum and Frodo's finger

Gollum attacks the invisible Frodo, and bite off his finger. So happy to get his precious back, Gollum loses his balance and falls into the lava.

The Ring is destroyed, Sauron's power as well and Middle finger of Frodo as well...

golum bite froddo's finger and ring

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