HASA Resources

Things of Middle-earth

Bilbo's Mithril Coat

Type: Weapons

Other Names:
silver corslet
mithril-mail
mithril-coat
mail-coat
mail-shirt
dwarf-coat
dwarf-mail
coat of dwarf-linked rings
corslet of mithril-rings
corslet of Moria-silver

Description:

A mail shirt made of mithril by the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain; given to Bilbo Baggins during the Quest of Erebor, and worn by Frodo Baggins during the Quest of the Ring.
[The] talk turned to the great hoard [of Smaug] itself and to the things that Thorin and Balin remembered. They wondered if they were still lying there unharmed in the hall below [the Lonely Mountain]:... coats of mail gilded and silvered and impenetrable; the necklace of Girion, Lord of Dale, made of five hundred emeralds green as grass, which he gave for the arming of his eldest son in a coat of dwarf-linked rings the like of which had never been made before, for it was wrought of pure silver to the power and strength of triple steel.

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Inside Information

'Mr. Baggins!' [Thorin] cried. 'Here is the first payment of your reward! Cast off your old coat and put on this!'

With that he put on Bilbo a small coat of mail, wrought for some young elf-prince long ago. It was of silver-steel which the elves call mithril, and with it went a belt of pearls and crystals. A light helm of figured leather, strengthened beneath with hoops of steel, and studded about the brim with white gems, was set upon the hobbit's head.

'I feel magnificent,' he thought; 'but I expect I look rather absurd. How they would laugh on the Hill at home. Still I wish there was a looking-glass handy!'

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Not At Home

"Bilbo Baggins!" [the Elvenking] said. "You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it. But I wonder if Thorin Oakenshield will see it so. I have more knowledge of dwarves in general than you have perhaps. I advise you to remain with us, and here you shall be honoured and thrice welcome."

The Hobbit, Ch 16, A Thief in the Night

His sword, Sting, Bilbo hung over his fireplace, and his coat of marvellous mail, the gift of the Dwarves from the Dragon-hoard, he lent to a museum, to the Michel Delving Mathom-house in fact.

The Lord of the Rings, Prologue, Of the Finding of the Ring

On the morning of the last day Frodo was alone with Bilbo, and the old hobbit pulled out from under his bed a wooden box. He lifted the lid and fumbled inside....

'This is Sting,' he said.... 'Take it, if you like. I shan't want it again, I expect.'

'Also there is this!' said Bilbo, bringing out a parcel which seemed to be rather heavy for its size. He unwound several folds of old cloth, and held up a small shirt of mail. It was close-woven of many rings, as supple almost as linen, cold as ice, and harder than steel. It shone like moonlit silver, and was studded with white gems. With it was a belt of pearl and crystal.

'It's a pretty thing, isn't it?' said Bilbo, moving it in the light. 'And useful. It is my dwarf-mail that Thorin gave me. I got it back from Michel Delving before I started, and packed it with my luggage: I brought all the mementoes of my Journey away with me, except the Ring. But I did not expect to use this, and I don't need it now, except to look at sometimes. You hardly feel any weight when you put it on.'

'I should look — well, I don't think I should look right in it,' said Frodo.

'Just what I said myself,' said Bilbo. 'But never mind about looks. You can wear it under your outer clothes. Come on! You must share this secret with me. Don't tell anybody else! But I should feel happier if I knew you were wearing it. I have a fancy it would turn even the knives of the Black Riders,' he ended in a low voice.

'Very well, I will take it,' said Frodo. Bilbo put it on him, and fastened Sting upon the glittering belt; and then Frodo put over the top his old weather-stained breeches, tunic, and jacket.

'Just a plain hobbit you look,' said Bilbo. 'But there is more about you now than appears on the surface. Good luck to you!'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

The Company took little gear of war, for their hope was in secrecy not in battle.... Frodo took only Sting; and his mail-coat, as Bilbo wished, remained hidden.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

[Said Gandalf,] 'Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim.... Bilbo had a corslet of mithril-rings that Thorin gave him. I wonder what has become of it? Gathering dust still in Michel Delving Mathom-house, I suppose.'

'What? ' cried Gimli, startled out of his silence. 'A corslet of Moria-silver? That was a kingly gift!'

'Yes,' said Gandalf. 'I never told him, but its worth was greater than the value of the whole Shire and everything in it.'

Frodo said nothing, but he put his hand under his tunic and touched the rings of his mail-shirt. He felt staggered to think that he had been walking about with the price of the Shire under his jacket. Had Bilbo known? He felt no doubt that Bilbo knew quite well. It was indeed a kingly gift.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 4, A Journey in the Dark

'Now is the time!' cried Gandalf. 'Let us go, before the troll returns!'

But even as they retreated... a huge orc-chieftain... leaped into the chamber... he wielded a great spear.... Diving under Aragorn's blow with the speed of a striking snake he charged into the Company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and pinned.... But even as the orc... swept out his scimitar, Andúril came down upon his helm....

[Said Frodo,] 'I am alive, and whole I think. I am bruised and in pain, but it is not too bad.'

'Well,' said Aragorn, 'I can only say that hobbits are made of a stuff so tough that I have never met the like of it.... That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!'

'Well, it did not skewer me, I am glad to say... though I feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil.' He said no more. He found breathing painful.

'You take after Bilbo,' said Gandalf. 'There is more about you than meets the eye, as I said of him long ago.' Frodo wondered if the remark meant more than it said.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

'Look ahead! ' called Gandalf. 'The Bridge is near.'....

Arrows fell among them. One struck Frodo and sprang back. Another pierced Gandalf's hat and stuck there like a black feather.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

For some time Frodo and Sam managed to keep up with the others; but... after a while they lagged behind.... Frodo felt every step more painful and he gasped for breath....

Aragorn tended Sam and Frodo....

'I am all right,' said Frodo, reluctant to have his garments touched....

'No! ' said Aragorn. 'We must have a look and see what the hammer and the anvil have done to you. I still marvel that you are alive at all.' Gently he stripped off Frodo's old jacket and worn tunic, and gave a gasp of wonder. Then he laughed. The silver corslet shimmered before his eyes like the light upon a rippling sea. Carefully he took it off and held it up, and the gems on it glittered like stars, and the sound of the shaken rings was like the tinkle of rain in a pool.

'Look, my friends!' he called. 'Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in! If it were known that hobbits had such hides, all the hunters of Middle-earth would be riding to the Shire.'

'And all the arrows of all the hunters in the world would be in vain,' said Gimli, gazing at the mail in wonder. '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. But it was well given!'....

There was a dark and blackened bruise on Frodo's right side and breast. Under the mail there was a shirt of soft leather, but at one point the rings had been driven through it into the flesh. Frodo's left side also was scored and bruised where he had been hurled against the wall.... Aragorn bathed the hurts with water in which athelas was steeped.... Soon Frodo felt the pain leave him.... Aragorn bound some soft pads of cloth at his side.

'The mail is marvellously light,' he said. 'Put it on again, if you can bear it.... Do not lay it aside, even in sleep, unless fortune brings you where you are safe for a while; and that will seldom chance while your quest lasts.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 6, Lothlórien

[Aragorn said,] 'I did not know that we had come so far.... Sarn Gebir must be close at hand already.'....

At that moment there was a twang of bowstrings: several arrows whistled over them, and some fell among them. One smote Frodo between the shoulders and he lurched forward with a cry, letting go his paddle: but the arrow fell back, foiled by his hidden coat of mail.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 9, The Great River

Then at last [Sam] began to weep; and going to Frodo he composed his body....

'If I'm to go on,' he said, 'then I must take your sword, by your leave, Mr. Frodo, but I'll put this one to lie by you, as it lay by the old king in the barrow; and you've got your beautiful mithril coat from old Mr. Bilbo.... Do you understand, Mr. Frodo? I've got to go on.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 10, The Choices of Master Samwise

[Sam] crept on; and as he went he wondered how many Orcs lived in the Tower..., and what they were quarrelling about.... Almost certainly they were quarrelling about Frodo, and the spoil. For a second Sam halted, for suddenly things seemed clear to him.... The mithril coat! Of course, Frodo was wearing it, and they would find it. And from what Sam had heard Gorbag would covet it.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol

The Messenger... held up first the short sword that Sam had carried, and next a grey cloak with an elven-brooch, and last the coat of mithril-mail that Frodo had worn wrapped in his tattered garments.... Pippin... sprang forward with a cry of grief.

'Silence!' said Gandalf sternly, thrusting him back; but the Messenger laughed aloud.

'So you have yet another of these imps with you!' he cried.... 'I thank him, for it is plain that this brat at least has seen these tokens before, and it would be vain for you to deny them now.'

'I do not wish to deny them,' said Gandalf. 'Indeed, I know them all and all their history, and despite your scorn, foul Mouth of Sauron, you cannot say as much. But why do you bring them here?'

'Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downfallen West, and spy from the little rat-land of the Shire... here are the marks of a conspiracy....

'These we will take!' said Gandalf suddenly. He cast aside his cloak and a white light shone forth like a sword in that black place. Before his upraised hand the foul Messenger recoiled, and Gandalf coming seized and took from him the tokens: coat, cloak, and sword.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

Frodo and Sam were... brought to a tent, and there their old raiment was taken off... and clean linen was given to them. Then Gandalf came and in his arms, to the wonder of Frodo, he bore the sword and the elven-cloak and the mithril-coat that had been taken from him in Mordor.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen

Saruman turned to go.... But even as Saruman passed close to Frodo a knife flashed in his hand, and he stabbed swiftly. The blade turned on the hidden mail-coat and snapped.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 4Jul04, 3Oct07, 8Jul10

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