There were three rings for the Elves, seven for the Dwarves and nine for Men. One ring to rule the other Nineteen. Smeagol was a Hobbit, IIRC (never seen the movies and read the books many many years ago). Bilbo, a Hobbit and Frodo too.

Was it because the One Ring was lost, then found by and kept by a succession of Hobbits, the little folk who Sauron didn't even care to rule, that kept the One Ring from truly being found, even when worn by them?

(By the way, the use of the word "holding" in the title isn't meant what is the difference between worn on a finger and not worn but held. I meant it in the "owning" or "finder's keepers" sense of the word. As a Lord would be the Holder of the Land over serfs.)

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1 Answer 1


Sauron was the one closest to the One Ring, since he put himself into it, and he was occupied from TA 1 to 2060 with rebuilding himself after his death in the Last Alliance. While he was surely looking for the One Ring during that time even Sauron couldn't just "know" where the Ring was.

Furthermore, while Gollum held the Rings there was no sign a Great Ring was in use to the wider world - nobody knew a mortal was becoming invisible in the roots of the Misty Mountains! There's no reason to think even the Orcs and goblins there knew Gollum had a ring. The Ring wasn't being actively used to dominate the wills of others or to accomplish anything else, really.

Gandalf was a wielder of one of the Three, and he didn't even recognize the One Ring for what it was at first sight. The Ringwraiths could merely sense the general presence of the Ring. Even Sauron couldn't lock in on where the Ring was even when it was being used! On Amon Hen, the Hill of Seeing (which itself had special properties) Sauron was only just catching on that the Ring was there before Gandalf deflect him.

Even while the Ring was in Mordor - even when Sam wore it on the border! - Sauron had no idea where the Ring was; he resorted to logic to conclude that Aragorn had the Ring and was using it.

It wasn't until Frodo actually claimed the Ring for his own in Mount Doom itself that Sauron realized where the Ring was and who had it - because Frodo's action in claiming the Ring as well as his location had magical significance.

And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-du was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown. The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him.

There's nothing so far as we know makes it different, having a Hobbit holding the Ring - it remained hidden from the world simply because of what they did with it. Gollum kept it in his caves, and Bilbo and Frodo never used it for what it was. Unless you were the rare individual versed in Ring-Lore and one of them revealed the Ring to you, you had no way of knowing the Ring had been found.

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    So, putting on the Ring to hide from their enemies wasn't enough. It was Frodo saying "it's mine" that did it. Eloquent.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 0:00
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    I think the tower trembling is a really nice touch by Tolkien - it's not just Sauron being worried, remember that the foundations of the tower were built with the One Ring and tied up with it, so there's something metaphysical being reflected there.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 0:19
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    It can't just be saying "It's Mine" - Gollum had been doing that for years. My guess is that you have to claim it in the full knowledge of what it is - claim the power of the ring, not the ring itself.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 1:17
  • @JoeL. - you're probably right, and I suggest that the location ("even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm") is also significant.
    – user8719
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 1:32

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