In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf relates the following exchange between Sméagol and Déagol:

‘“Give us that, Déagol, my love,” said Sméagol, over his friend’s shoulder. ‘“Why?” said Déagol. ‘“Because it’s my birthday, my love, and I wants it,” said Sméagol. ‘“I don’t care,” said Déagol. “I have given you a present already, more than I could afford. I found this, and I’m going to keep it.”

This occurs shortly before Déagol is murdered for the One Ring.

What was that object? Could it have had any influence on Sméagol's decision?

  • 21
    I'm guessing it was an ironing board cover. I once gave one of those as a birthday present and nearly got murdered for it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:57
  • I think I've improved the question without changing its meaning. Feel free to revert
    – user46509
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:00
  • JKR came close to answering in his Letter #214 "The giver could thus accommodate his gift to his purse and his affections without incurring public comment or offending (if anyone) any other than the recipient. But custom did not demand costly presents, and a Hobbit was more readily flattered and delighted by an unexpectedly ‘good’ or desirable present than offended by a customary token of family good-will." but then funked it and wandered off on a tangent.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:18
  • 6
    @Richard Very impressive—doesn’t even seem like Rowling’s style of writing at all! :-þ Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:33
  • 3
    @JanusBahsJacquet - The main difference is that JRR wrote all of his own works whereas JKR is merely a front for a team of publishing company ghost-writers...
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


It's never been said what that first present was, as far as I've been able to tell. The closest bit I've found is a discussion concerning whether or not it actually was Smeagol's birthday, which goes into some of the customs of hobbit gift giving.

As noted in the bit you quoted, the gift was expensive from the perspective of a young hobbit, probably something equivalent to Deagol's disposable income for a few weeks worth of work, most likely. This could seemingly be anything such as a modest pocket watch, a novel, a wheel of imported cheese, or even some small livestock like a piglet or goat kid.

It's probably not the answer you were looking for, but it's probably the best you'll find. If Tolkien ever did mention what the original gift was, it's beyond the material I've looked at. Indeed, he seems to have made much about hobbit birthday customs up on the spot as he was writing the bit about Smeagol's past, so it's very likely the man himself never defined it past simply being Deagol's gift.

  • 1
    It could have even been the coracle they were sat in when they were fishing :) Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 16:07
  • Of course, Shire hobbits give other people presents on their birthdays. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 15:28

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