In the letter that Gandalf asks Barliman Butterbur to send to Frodo, he says

Do NOT use It again, not for any reason whatever!

This letter was written on Midyear's Day, almost four months before Frodo set out for Rivendell. The first time that Frodo wore the ring, as far as is evident from The Lord of the Rings, was at Tom Bombadil's house on September 27. Why, then, would Gandalf tell Frodo not to use the Ring again if he never had before? Did Frodo use it at some point earlier that just isn't stated in the book?

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    He had it in his possession for decades before Gandalf worked out why the Ring was dangerous. I presume he used it at least once in all that time.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 18:20
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    Perhaps Gandalf is like that one teacher who always has your number. He just KNEW Frodo wouldn't be able to restrain himself, and would put the Ring on (at least once) before the letter reached him.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 18:23
  • @Valorum "The Shadow Of the Past", where Gandalf heats up the ring in Frodo's fire to reveal the inscription (and thus confirm it was the One Ring) happens three years after the Party, which is when Frodo got it.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 19:26
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    @Spencer - Unless I'm much mistaken, Frodo received the ring on his 33rd Birthday when Bilbo left the Shire. Gandalf returned to the Shire just before Frodo's 50th birthday. He had the ring in his possession for 17 years.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 19:32
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    Why would it be surprising if Frodo did use the ring before the letter? We know Bilbo used it occasionally - I would expect Frodo to succumb to the temptation at least once. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 20:19

3 Answers 3


It may not be the clearest wording, but I personally interpret this to be a reference to the fact that Bilbo used the ring to disappear from the stage during his "eleventy first" birthday party. An event which Gandalf was present to witness, IIRC.

He doesn't want the ring to be used - again - by anyone. He's addressing Frodo, because Frodo is the one in whose care the ring was most recently left.


In the words of Galadriel in “The Mirror of Galadriel”:

Only thrice have you set the Ring on your finger since you knew what you possessed.

This strongly implies that Frodo sometimes wore the Ring before “The Shadow of the Past.” Gandalf’s instruction to not wear it again, then, makes sense.

  • Not necessarily. The question he asked was why he couldn't know who else wore Rings and what they were thinking. Even if he had worn it before, he wouldn't have been able to use it that way. And how did Galadriel know he wore it exactly three times? The same way Celembrimbor knew about the One Ring initially? If so, then it is likely Frodo never did wear the Ring before he knew what it was. Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 20:53

First of all, Frodo never had possession of the ring for decades. Bilbo did, when he found the ring inside the cave, he discovers its power of invisibility and uses it to escape from the caves. And as for Gandalf warning him not to use the ring. As you may recall he is a wizard.And has known since its creation,the powers it holds.

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    I'm not asking about why Gandalf doesn't want Frodo to use the Ring; I want to know why Gandalf says not to use it again. Also, you are technically correct that Frodo did not possess the Ring for multiple decades (it was only seventeen years), but that has nothing to do with my question.
    – Neithan
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 19:10
  • Your answer holds merrit, I agree with most of your reply. So Iam changing my answer for you. I believe Gandalf told Frodo not to use the ring again because: Gandalf knew that if Frodo was to keep wearing the ring that he would sucome to its evil powers. Thank you Commented May 8, 2017 at 2:28

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