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This question already has an answer here:

In the Hobbit, when Bilbo finds his magical ring, Gandalf only warns him that some magical rings are not safe but he has no idea that Bilbo's magical ring is actually the One.

Does Gandalf, at this time, know that the One Ring does still exist?

The accepted answer to this question states that

Gandalf didn't know the ring was still around.

However, I highly doubt that. Elrond knew that the Ring was not destroyed at Mt. Doom and that the only way to get rid of Sauron was to destroy his ring. Furthermore, it was the task of the Istari to fight Sauron - since they were still in Middle-Earth, they must have known that Sauron is still around (otherwise why would they stay in Middle-Earth?) which implies that the One Ring is still around too - just it's whereabouts are currently not known.

Thus, Gandalf must have known all the time that the One Ring is still around somewhere. It just took him a while to figure out that Bilbo found it by pure chance.

marked as duplicate by NikolaiDante, user1027 Feb 15 '13 at 15:32

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  • he thought that the One Ring is forever lost (whatever that should mean) and thus no living creature can come into possession, i.e. the ring can never crawl back again on Sauron's hand. iirc that's what most of Middle Earth's wise thought at the point, except for Saruman, as is later revealed. – ingenious Feb 15 '13 at 7:48
  • I don't have a reference here but I do remember that Sarumam "led" the white council to believe that the ring was taken by the river stream to the sea, and thus was not a danger to deal with. Although he was actively looking for it. – Nuno Freitas Feb 15 '13 at 10:17
  • Well, the I actually linked that answer! It only states that Gandalf didn't know that the One Ring was "still around" And I wanted to know what that actually means and if Gandalf really did think so. – mort Feb 15 '13 at 21:00
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There is a slight difference between "existing" and "being around".

Gandalf couldn't deny the fact that the One Ring wasn't destroyed, so he actually knew it still existed, simply he considered it lost for so long that it could be beyond possibility its retrieval.

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