I have found some examples but I am not sure if any of them are right. Are there any concrete examples of Tolkien numerals?

Alphabet 1 Alphabet 2 Alphabet 3


Quettar Special Publication No.1, 'The Writing Systems of Middle-earth', by David Doughan and Julian Bradfield, published in 1987.

The Eldar used both a decimal and a duodecimal system, the Dwarves used a duodecimal system, and the Men of the West in the Third Age used mainly a decimal system. The digits used were as follows1:

elivish numerals

In all systems the numbers are written with the unit digit at the left. The digits were usually marked, either by a dot over each digit, or by a line drawn above the number, for a decimal system; in a duodecimal system, the dot or line was written below.



+---+-----------+-----------+-----------+    +----+-----------------+
|   | Sindarin  | Quenya    | Telerin   |    |    | Quenya          |
+---+-----------+-----------+-----------+    +----+-----------------+
|1. | er, min   | er, min   | er, min   |    |13. | nelkea          |
|2. | tad       | atta      | tat       |    |14. | kankea          |
|3. | neleð     | nelde     | nelet     |    |15. | lenkea/leminkea |
|4. | canad     | kanta     | canat     |    |16. | enkea/enekkea   |
|5. | leben     | lemen     | lepen     |    |17. | okkea           |
|6. | eneg      | enque     | enec      |    |18. | tolkea / hualqe |
|7. | odo(g)    | otso      | otos      |    |19. | húkea           | 
|8. | toloð     | toldo     |           |    |20. | yukainen        |
|9. | neder     | nerte     | neter     |    |30. | nel(de)kainen   |
|10.| pae       |quean/quain| pai(n)    |    |40. | kan(ta)kainen   | 
|11.| minib     | minque    | minipe    |    |100.| keakai(li)      |
|12.| ýneg      | yunque    | yūnece    |    |200.| yúyo tuksa      |
+---+-----------+-----------+-----------+    +----+-----------------+
VT48:6                                       VT48:21

VT is Vinyar Tengwar, a linguistic journal published by the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship.

Ordering and names of numerals from Unicode roadmap proposal 4:

Tengwar digits CSUR encoding
Name    CSUR    Designation annotation
0       U+xx30  TENGWAR LETTER STEMLESS OORE (digit zero)
1       U+xx33  TENGWAR LETTER STEMLESS VILYA (digit one)
2       U+xx62  TENGWAR DIGIT TWO
4       U+xx64  TENGWAR DIGIT FOUR
5       U+xx65  TENGWAR DIGIT FIVE
6       U+xx66  TENGWAR DIGIT SIX
9       U+xx69  TENGWAR DIGIT NINE

CSUR – ConScript Unicode Registry

J.R.R.Tolkien never published a runic numbering system that could be used with the Cirth. However, in the Book of Mazarbul inscriptions, some characters are specifically used to represent numbers5:

Angerthas numerals
Note: [a] Based on the number of strokes in numerals 1, 3, 4 and 6; the numeral for 2 might also be predicted.

Numerals for the runes from Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien1:
number runes

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  • 1
    What's the digit writing order? – einpoklum Oct 11 '19 at 7:59
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    How do you know these are accurate and not made up by someone? Have you looked into the sources cited on that page and their accuracy? Furthermore, your answer is a direct copy paste from the other site, posing it as your own work is plagiarism. – Edlothiad Oct 11 '19 at 8:19
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    I have some books at home. I'll check and quote those whem I get there tonight. – Oni Oct 11 '19 at 8:28
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    I highly doubt many people would do that, so I would advise that it's not a very productive addition to your answer. – Edlothiad Oct 11 '19 at 19:13
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    Note that the code point range E000-F8FF (where these characters are located) is a "private use area" in the Unicode spec. These are not standard, and in fact these code point assignments will likely conflict with the "icon fonts" used by an increasing number of websites. (For example, default generated fonts using IcoMoon will start their icons in this range.) – DavidW Oct 11 '19 at 19:26

I'm not sure if the original JRR Tolkien manuscripts these were based on have been published yet, (I presume they have, I just haven't been able to locate them) but in 1981 and 1982 Christopher Tolkien mailed the editor of Quettar (a linguistic journal) some handwritten notes on how to write numbers in tengwar.

These were published in their original form in Quettar #13 and Quettar #14.

enter image description here

The Tengwar Numerals

For numeration, especially in lists or series, the letters up to [rune] 24 (see The Return of the King p. 396, table of Tengwar) were commonly used, with or without some sign, as [rune] [rune]

The numerals of the Fëanorian script were arranged in triads:


0 123 456 789

The smaller value was placed on the left : thus [rune][rune] (01) = 10. [rune][rune] (24) = 42

When the use of numerals as such was evident, and no confusion could arise, the dots could be omitted. Often a long series of numerals in the midst of words was marked by a line drawn above as

[rune][rune][rune][rune][rune][rune][rune] = 1780396

to be read as 'six million, nine hundred & thirty thousand, eight hundred & seventy one'.

CRT after JRRT 16 May 1981

enter image description here

The Eldar used two systems of numerals: one of sixes (or twelves); and one of fives (or tens). The Dwarves used for their own purposes a duodecimal system. Men of the West of the Third Age used mainly a decimal system, though their numerals showed the influence of the sixes & twelves of the Eldarin & Dwarvish use.

Where a duodecimal system was required for arithmetical purposes, or for denoting Dwarvish numerals, the dots or line were placed beneath the figures (if used). The figures [rune][rune] were then used for ten and eleven, while [rune] or [rune] could be used for twelve. The doudecade was often marked by [rune].

Thus decimal [rune][rune][rune] (441) = 144; [rune][rune] (53) = 35

duodecimal [rune][rune][rune] (001) = 144; [rune][rune] (11,2) = 35

[rune][rune][rune][rune][rune][rune][rune] = 7 0 11 2 10 3 2 = 2 3 10 2 11 0 7 = 6,930,871 decimal

CRT after JRRT 10 March 1982

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Gandalf leaves a message at Weathertop for Aragorn and the hobbits by scrawling a G rune followed by three strokes, to indicate that he was there on the 3rd of the month (or at least, that’s what Aragorn surmises). Therefore, something akin to Roman numerals was definitely used occasionally, at least for small numbers.

'There seems to be a stroke, a dot, and three more strokes,' he said.

'The stroke on the left might be a G-rune with thin branches,' said Strider. 'It might be a sign left by Gandalf, though one cannot be sure. The scratches are fine, and they certainly look fresh. But the marks might mean something quite different, and have nothing to do with us. Rangers use runes, and they come here sometimes.'

'What could they mean, even if Gandalf made them?' asked Merry.

'I should say,' answered Strider, 'that they stood for G3, and were a sign that Gandalf was here on October the third: that is three days ago now.

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  • If the first “stroke” could look like a ‘G’ rune, why couldn't the other “strokes” look like number runes? Did they have to be Roman numerals? – Edlothiad Oct 12 '19 at 5:59
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    @Edlothiad - I believe the noted similarity to roman numerals is that the same symbol is used multiple times for small numbers; e.g. III is 3 in roman numerals, three other strokes (not necessarily I) would be 3 in a Tolkien number system. – user62584 Oct 12 '19 at 6:11

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