Tolkien's correspondence and publisher's records show that Tolkien was involved in the design and illustration of the entire book. All elements were the subject of considerable correspondence and fussing over by Tolkien. Rayner Unwin, in his publishing memoir, comments:
“In 1937 alone Tolkien wrote 26 letters to George Allen & Unwin... detailed, fluent, often pungent, but infinitely polite and exasperatingly precise... I doubt any author today, however famous, would get such scrupulous attention.”
Runes and the English letter values assigned to them by Tolkien, used in several of his original illustrations and designs for the The Hobbit.
Even the maps of which Tolkien originally proposed five, were considered and debated. He wished Thror's map to be tipped in (that is, glued in after the book has been bound) at first mention in the text, and with the moon-letters (Anglo Saxon runes) on the reverse so they could be seen when held up to the light. In the end the cost, as well as the shading of the maps, which would be difficult to reproduce, resulted in the final design of two maps as endpapers, Thror's map, and the Map of the Wilderland, both printed in black and red on the paper's cream background.
Originally Allen & Unwin planned to illustrate the book only with the endpaper maps, but Tolkien's first tendered sketches so charmed the publisher's staff that they opted to include them without raising the book's price despite the extra cost. Thus encouraged, Tolkien supplied a second batch of illustrations. The publisher accepted all of these as well, giving the first edition ten black-and-white illustrations plus the two endpaper maps. The illustrated scenes were: The Hill: Hobbiton across the Water, The Trolls, The Mountain Path, The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate, Beorn's Hall, Mirkwood, The Elvenking's Gate, Lake Town, and the Front Gate. All but one of the illustrations were a full page, and one, the Mirkwood illustration, required a separate plate.