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Considering mithril is both incredibly light and strong (compared to other materials such as steel) are there any references to there being more than a single mithril mail shirt (Bilbo's) ever being made or used?

Did the dwarves craft more of them?

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    This one is deceptively hard to answer. I've found lots of references to mithril being used in the making of armour, ship-building, gate-making, etc but only one reference to it being used for chain-mail; Bilbo's shirt. – Valorum Jul 19 '15 at 14:49
  • @Richard - Thanks for the edit, looks a lot cleaner :) Yes, not much info on any body armour apart from Bilbo's shirt. – user35594 Jul 20 '15 at 0:50
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In The Fellowship of the Ring, book 2 chapter 6, Gimli sees Frodo's mithril coat for the first time, after the Fellowship (save Gandalf) have escaped from Moria. He says:

It is a mithril coat. Mithril! I have never seen or heard tell of one so fair. Is this the coat that Gandalf spoke of? Then he undervalued it.

Since Gandalf had already said it was a mithril coat, Gimli is saying that this is a particularly fine example of a mithril coat, which implies that he knows of and indeed has seen others.

  • Not necessarily. It could just mean that he’s seen other chainmail shirts, and the fact that this one is made of mithril is exactly the reason why he’s never seen or heard tell of one so fair. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 19 '15 at 15:06
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    No, Gimili goes on to say "Is this the coat that Gandalf spoke of? Then he undervalued it." Since Gimli already knew that Gandalf was speaking of a mithril coat, he must mean that this is a particularly fine example of a mithril coat, not that it's a chainmail coat that is exceptionally fine because it's made of mithril. – Mike Scott Jul 19 '15 at 15:12
  • @MikeScott - Well argued. That should be in the answer... – Valorum Jul 19 '15 at 15:25
  • @MikeScott Perhaps not; it could be that there's only one, but Gimili had to see it in person to know that Gandalf had undervalued it. – imallett Jul 19 '15 at 19:20
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    ISTM that, if Gimli had never heard of any other mithril coat, he would have said, “It is a mithril coat.  Mithril!  I have never seen or heard tell of one.”  The addition of the words “so fair” seems to mean that he is saying “This is the fairest mithril coat that I have ever seen or heard of,” which, IMO, implies that he has seen or heard of others. – Peregrine Rook Jul 19 '15 at 19:21
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In addition to Mike's answer - in The Hobbit, the coat Thorin chooses for Bilbo is described as

"...wrought for some young elf-prince long ago. It was of silver-steel which the elves call mithril"

For it to fit Bilbo, it had to be a very young Elf prince. The idea that there was only ever one mithril chain mail shirt forged and it was given to a young elf, who would soon outgrow it, seems very unlikely.

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    Especially since said elf-prince was (apparently) unimportant enough to be called "some young elf-prince" instead of "the young elf-prince so-and-so." – Kevin Jul 20 '15 at 14:05
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    I really don't think Tolkin put that much thought into it, but my guess would be by the time the perfectionist dwarf smith finished it, the elf prince was already too big, so it went back on the armour rack until Thorin dusted it off. Or maybe it was too expensive to buy and elven princes rented it until they wore the full sized armour, then gave it back. – Mikey Mouse Jul 20 '15 at 14:22
  • +1, Brilliant addition! Thank you for this. I wish I could accept more than one answer :( – user35594 Jul 21 '15 at 21:46
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    @user35594 no worries, mine was just supplemental to Mike's – Mikey Mouse Jul 22 '15 at 7:54

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