Tolkien’s Legendarium is one of the biggest, most popular, and most interesting fictional universes we have. It is – in a way – the epitome of a fantasy-based universe and served as a prototype for all later similar universes that are part of the fantasy genre. Although the universe contains a lot of different material and is generally well-worked out, without any major questions or issues (Tolkien was a meticulous creator), there are still some unanswered or confusing topics and one of them is what Thorin gave Bilbo in The Hobbit?
In The Hobbit, Thorin gives Bilbo Baggins a vest made of mithril rings that would protect him. It was a kingly gift and a symbol of a great friendship between the two, as well as a noble gift given to Bilbo because he refused to take his full share of Smaug’s treasure.
In the rest of the article, you are going to find out what gift Thorin Oakenshield bestowed upon Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. You’re also going to find out what that gift symbolizes, as well as how valuable it is and where it ended up after being in Bilbo’s possession for years. We have prepared a lot of information for you, so keep reading to find out everything on the topic.
What does Thorin give to Bilbo in The Hobbit?
In wake of the legendary Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin Oakenshield summons Bilbo Baggins and bestows him with a vest made of silver, metallic rings. You can see the scene from the movie here:
Thorin explains that the vest is made out of mithril, which is a very precious metal mined by Dwarves. Thorin explained that the vest was impenetrable to any blade and this was an ultimate sign of friendship. Thorin was, at the time, paranoid because he thought that one of his kin had stolen the Arkenstone and believed Bilbo to be his only true friend; he did not know that Bilbo had taken the Arkenstone to use as bargain. When he found out, he was furious and denounced him, but the two of them reconciled just before Thorin’s death, making peace as true friends.
Why does Thorin give Bilbo the mithril vest?
As stated, Thorin gave Bilbo the mithril vest because he considered him a true friend. He was, to be fair, a bit paranoid at the time so he wasn’t thinking all that clearly, but Bilbo was his friend and the gift was not given in vain. A mithril vest given by a Dwarf is an exceptional gift and its symbolic value was enormous. Thorin also expressed his gratitude for the vest because Bilbo took only part of his share of Smaug’s treasure.
The vest was also given as a form of protection (the ultimate protection for that matter, as it was impenetrable by a blade), as the Dwarves were preparing for the Battle of the Five Armies, so Thorin had Bilbo’s safety in mind as well.
How valuable is the mithril vest?
The exact value of the mithril vest is not revealed in The Hobbit. Okay, we did know it was valuable and we did know that it was very rare and specific, but the exact value was never revealed. Well, not until The Lord of the Rings, that is.
When the Fellowship of the Ring began their journey, Gandalf mentioned that Bilbo Baggins had a vest made out of mithril while the group was passing through a cavern full of mithril in Moria. He explained that Bilbo had received the vest from Thorin Oakenshield, to which Gimli, another Dwarf, remarked that it was a kingly gift, referring to the vest’s high value. Gandalf then added that the vest was actually worth more than the whole of Shire, but he never revealed that fact to Bilbo. It turned out that Bilbo actually had one of the most valuable objects in Middle-Earth on him but was not aware of it.
Where did the mithril vest end up?
Before we answer this question, let us see this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring:
This scene actually shows the brief conversation we mentioned in the preceding section, but that’s not the focus here. When Gandalf speaks of the vest’s value, you probably noticed Frodo’s look, right? Well, there’s a reason why the ring bearer reacted like that and that reason is likewise the answer to our final question from this article!
Namely, before the Fellowship started their journey, Bilbo Baggins gave his “nephew” Frodo some useful “gifts” for his journey, knowing how perilous it would be. Among these was a mithril vest given to him by Thorin, the same one we’ve been talking about this whole time. Frodo put it on secretly, knowing that it would protect him, but the rest of the group had no clue about it at the time. This is why Frodo was visibly uncomfortable when Gandalf, not knowing that Frodo was wearing it, revealed the vest’s real value, because he had just found out that he was wearing the value of a kingdom on his torso.