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Related: Sauron, Gollum, and the Ring

I've always found it interesting that Gollum possessed the One Ring for approximately five hundred years without Sauron sniffing it out; it seems actual talk of the One Ring was extremely minimal, something that only a few might dare speak of behind closed doors in the dead of night or something.

Once the ring passed to Bilbo, did others begin to learn about Gollum and that he was a ringbearer? (I realize Bilbo and Gandalf came to know this information). Did the entire Fellowship know Gollum had been a ringbearer, or just a select few in the group? Did anyone outside the Fellowship come to find out?

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One item to note is that Sauron may not have been capable of doing much of anything during the period of time Gollum possessed the ring. – Gorchestopher H Aug 30 '14 at 22:30
Eventually, lots of hobbits presumably knew, since it was in the Red Book of Westmarch... – Micah Sep 1 '14 at 6:17

Certainly Boromir, Legolas and Aragorn knew that Gollum was a ringbearer;

Know also, my friends, that I learned more yet from Gollum. He was loth to speak and his tale was unclear, but it is beyond all doubt that he went to Mordor, and there all that he knew was forced from him. Thus the Enemy knows now that the One is found, that it was long in the Shire; and since his servants have pursued it almost to our door, he soon will know, already he may know, even as I speak, that we have it here.'

All sat silent for a while, until at length Boromir spoke. "He is a small thing, you say, this Gollum? Small, but great in mischief. What became of him? To what doom did you put him?" "He is in prison, but no worse," said Aragorn. "He had suffered much. There is no doubt that he was tormented, and the fear of Sauron lies black on his heart. Still I for one am glad that he is safely kept by the watchful Elves of Mirkwood. His malice is great and gives him a strength hardly to be believed in one so lean and withered. He could work much mischief still, if he were free. And I do not doubt that he was allowed to leave Mordor on some evil errand." - LOTR : FOTR

As did Gloín (and possibly his men too);

Glóin rose and bowed, and Legolas continued. 'In the days of fair weather we led Gollum through the woods; and there was a high tree standing alone far from the others which he liked to climb. Often we let him mount up to the highest branches, until he felt the free wind; but we set a guard at the tree's foot. LOTR : FOTR

Sam obviously knew;

“It doesn't sound as if he knew we were here, does it? ' whispered Sam. ”And what's his Precious? Does he mean the...'

“Hsh!' breathed Frodo. ”He's getting near now, near enough to hear a whisper." LOTR : TTT

And Gimli, Glorfindel, Erestor, Erestor and Galdor (and everyone else who was at the "Council of Elrond":

He then pointed out and named those whom Frodo had not met before. There was a younger dwarf at Glóin's side: his son Gimli. Beside Glorfindel there were several other counsellors of Elrond's household, of whom Erestor was the chief; and with him was Galdor, an Elf from the Grey Havens who had come on an errand from Círdan the Shipwright. There was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood. And seated a little apart was a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance.

"Very well," said Bilbo. "I will do as you bid. But I will now tell the true story, and if some here have heard me tell it otherwise" – he looked sidelong at Glóin – `I ask them to forget it and forgive me. I only wished to claim the treasure as my very own in those days, and to be rid of the name of thief that was put on me. But perhaps I understand things a little better now. Anyway, this is what happened.' To some there Bilbo's tale was wholly new, and they listened with amazement while the old hobbit, actually not at all displeased, recounted his adventure with Gollum, at full length. He did not omit a single riddle. LOTR : FOTR

and Faramir:

“He is lured here, you say? ' said Faramir in a low voice. ”Can he, does he then know of your burden? ' “Indeed yes. He bore it himself for many years.” 'He bore it? ' said Faramir, breathing sharply in his wonder. "This matter winds itself ever in new riddles. Then he is pursuing it? ' LOTR : TTT

Oh, and big S knew;

Sauron released [Gollum] and sent him forth... He did not trust Gollum, for he divined something indomitable in him, which could not be overcome … except by destroying him. But Sauron perceived the depth of Gollum's malice towards those that had “robbed” him, and guessing that he would go in search of them…, Sauron hoped that his spies would thus be led to the Ring.

…Sauron had never paid heed to the “Halflings,” even if he had heard of them, and he did not yet know where their land lay. From Gollum, even under pain, he could not get any clear account, both because Gollum indeed had no certain knowledge himself, and because what be knew he falsified. Ultimately indomitable he was, except by death, as Sauron did not fully comprehend, being himself consumed by lust for the ring. … [Gollum] dared to pretend that he believed that the land the Halflings was near to the .places where he had once dwelt beside the banks of the Gladden. Unfinished Tales

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Faramir also found out. '... He bore it himself for many years.' The Forbidden Pool, The Two Towers. – Ian Thompson Aug 31 '14 at 20:32
@IanThompson - When you've got good stuff like this, just add it as an edit :-) – Richard Aug 31 '14 at 20:55
Don't you mean Legolas, and not Thranduil? Thranduil was not present at the Council and sent his son Legolas as his messenger, as you have stated :-) – maguirenumber6 Dec 27 '15 at 9:50
@maguirenumber6 - Oops, yes. I misread that passage. – Richard Dec 27 '15 at 9:56

For the "nice team":

A possible source of that would be Bilbo itself, who (IIRC from The Hobbit) liked to talk and publicize the story of his journey, including how he got the ring (even if at the time no one did known about it being "The One").

From that the news got back to Gandalf. After that, I think it is to be expected that, when Gandalf delivered the news of the rings to Elrond and the Fellowship, he added some information about how it was discovered.

For the "evil team":

For this, I would point two ways (probably both independent, as either party did not want to give the other any advantage):

  • Sauron was informed through his direct link with the Ring.

  • Saruman was informed by Gandalf, when he still did trust him.

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Sauron certainly was not informed of the ring's location through any "direct link", otherwise he could have gone straight to get it and none of the events of LoTR could have happened. – Daniel Roseman Aug 30 '14 at 18:10

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