In an answer of mine for the question 'Who are all the characters to have touched The One Ring?', someone astutely asked 'how come?'

Was Gandalf aware of the Rings' effects on a holder before burdening Frodo with it? And while 'hidden', it did have some obvious effects during those 17 years, not the least of which was not appearing to have unnaturally-aged since receiving it.

2 Answers 2


He was aware.

He wasn't sure (at the time of leaving Frodo) that this really was the One Ring but he had his suspicions and general worries about the ring. He had recently had a very heated discussion about it with Bilbo, witnessing behavior that was uncharacteristic and was definitely worried. He also knew how the ring got to Bilbo and was worried about Bilbo lying about it.

He tells Frodo:

"Keep it secret and keep it safe"

And also:

"... odd things may happen to people that have such treasures – if they use them. Let it be a warning to you to be very careful with it."

I think he left the ring with Frodo despite this for a few reasons:

  • Bilbo has had the ring for almost 60 years at this point and was mainly OK. We know that the Ring has a somewhat diminished effect on Hobbits - Gandalf might have considered that.
  • The ring was Frodo's and so - that's where it belongs.

Note that he did warn Frodo NOT to use the ring so that no harm should come to him.

  • 3
    More comprehensive answer E.T. I like.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 17:13
  • 5
    I would also add that the fact that Bilbo was even able to let go of the ring by his own will (even if he needed some pushing) is considerable evidence that Hobbits are less affected by owning the Ring. Additionally, with Frodo not knowing what he has, and his any lack of aspirations for power, he is no risk to others by keeping hold of the Ring. Therefore, leaving it with Frodo would probably leave it in the hands of the safest possible owner of the Ring, both to himself and others.
    – Zottek
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 14:53

It appears so. Gandalf was unclear as to the true nature of the ring when he left it in Frodo's care. He was obviously aware that it was magical and rendered the wearer invisible as well as extended life by his observation of Bilbo but he was unaware that it was the One Ring, though he started to suspect as much so went about the research and study to confirm or dispel his growing suspicion.

  • So Bilbo didn't mention Gollum (behaviour and appearance) to him at all?
    – Solemnity
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 4:38
  • 1
    Do you mean about the neurotic obsessiveness and addiction-like psychological effects? Not that I can remember.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 6:02

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