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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

2020 November: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales

The high priced item this month - the US first of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Each month sales on eBay of Agatha Christie related items are reviewed. Below are a few highlights and recognized prices for items sold in November. This month’s most unusual sale was the small sculpture by Marika Somogyi, but our focus this month is on the Folio editions. These are proving to be ‘blue chip’ Christie collectibles and demand is definitely outpacing supply for certain titles. Prices seem to be moving higher at this time. For those interested in learning about the Folio editions, our detailed article on them can be found here.

Most eBay activity around the world for Christie occurs in reading quality paperbacks and DVDs. Also, too many sellers don’t know the value of what they are selling and often list items as ‘buy it now’ when they would have benefitted from an auction. Consequently, eagle eyed frequent visitors commonly snap up mispriced items quickly.

For every item we profile below, we show the price realized as stated by eBay and the currency based on where it was listed. Other key factors you should consider when buying on eBay are detailed at the foot of this article. Each item begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Dodd Mead & Co, USA (1926): (picture at top of page) Sold for $2,500 US. First edition in original jacket. Housed in a custom clam-shell case. The book is in near fine condition given its age, with no inscriptions or writing in the book. There are a few small marks on the top of the spine, otherwise no blemishes to note. The dust jacket is in near fine condition. There was some very minor professional archival restoration at the bottom of the spine impacting the letters 'Dodd Mead' and correcting a few very small chips along the panel edges. These are of the highest quality and are not noticeable to the naked eye. Flaps are complete and show original price. CC Comments: There were two known copies of this book in jacket for sale over the last year – this one and another on a different site. This appears very well bought. Any US edition in jacket prior to Blue Train is very rare, and even more so in the condition this book was in. With the UK edition of this book rarer than a unicorn and 20 times more expensive, buyers who want early first editions continue to find the US versions exceptional value.

A Night of Terror film poster (1942). Sold for £125.00 as a Buy It Now. A 1942 Re-Release of the 1937 Love From A Stranger, here re-titled as A Night of Terror. This is a theatrical unfolded one-sheet movie poster (1sh; measures 27" x 41" [69 x 104 cm]). From the play by Frank Vosper, based on a story by Agatha Christie, and starring Ann Harding, Basil Rathbone, Binnie Hale, Bruce Seton, and Jean Cadell Overall Condition: very good to fine. CC Comments: There is a robust market for film posters, and a sub-market for Christie-related film posters. With its alternate US title and wonderful vibrant graphic image this is exceptional well bought and will be enjoyed by its new owner.

Poirot Loses A Client, Avon, US (1945): Sold for $24 US as a Buy It Now. Described as ‘very good’ condition. CC Comments: The US title of Dumb Witness was first published in paperback as Avon #70 in 1945 which preceded the first UK paperback (Pan, 1949). Given the high prices other first paperbacks have recently been garnering this one was well bought. In addition, it’s fairly uncommon to find and has wonderful artwork on the cover – especially considering Emily Arundell was 70 years old!

Agatha Christie’s Crime Collection – 24 Books (1980s). Two sets sold. One for $149 AU and the other for $200 AU, both as a Buy It Now. All hardcover books with dust jackets, each containing 3 stories. CC Comments: These 1980s Australian reprint editions have a brisk trade in Australia, though prices realized here are relatively constant. Essentially $5-$8 AU per book which makes it a great way to acquire 72 of Christie’s works while decorating a shelf.

Ten Little Ni**ers programme, Wimbledon Theatre (1943). Sold for £24 with 8 bids. This programme is 4 pages for the world premiere of this play. CC Comments: This is a true gem of a collectible that went for a song. Christie’s famous play started its life here, at the Wimbledon Theatre, on 20 September 1943, before moving to the West End at the St James's Theatre on 17 November. Given its short run here finding a high quality programme from those opening weeks is most unusual. Well bought.

Agatha Christie Collection Bantam Leatherette set, 83 books, Bantam Books (1980s-1990s). Sold for £450 as a Buy It Now. Includes the less common "Murder at Hazelmoor" together with "An Autobiography" and "Engagement Calendar 1988". CC Comments: Many individuals collected these Bantam Books over the years and they frequently show for sale as a group or as individual items. Prices have remained constant for many years, trading in this range (approx. $600 US). There is adequate supply and as collectible has limited upside potential.

Montblanc Meisterstuck Agatha Christie edition fountain pen (1993). Sold for $1,699 US as a Buy It Now. Broad nibbed pen, #28606 of 30,000. Pen appears in unused condition with no sign of use or wear. Accessories are also very good overall with the outer box and sleeve with some light wear. CC Comments: The Montblanc ballpoint pen, fountain pen and mechanical pencil are frequent top priced sellers for Christie related collectibles on eBay each month. Whether these prices offer more upward potential is unclear. If these interest you as a pure collectible wait patiently for sets with all the correct packaging and in unused condition. If you are just going to use them as intended, don’t pay the premium for an unused one, but still try to secure all the packaging in case you choose to sell in the future. For the full article we wrote on collecting these click here.

Murder at the Vicarage, Dodd Mead, USA (1930). Sold for $250 US with 1 bid.1st edition with original dust jacket. Pages and covers very clean and very minimal wear. The dust jacket has a protective cover and has a few areas of damage. The books cover and binding is in good condition but does have fading across the back seam. The front book corners also have some imperfections. CC Comments: While the book was not in perfect condition, the jacket was still well above average for most jackets from this era. In fact, it appeared that it had been married to this book at a later date given the poor condition of the book’s spine. The jacket likely came from a 2nd printing which was issued by Dodd with an identical jacket. The price was exceptionally low and will allow someone to find a better book for the marriage and still come out on top. Very well bought.

Death on the Nile, Thornwillow Press (n.d. / circa 2019). Sold for €80 EU as a Buy It Now. This is the letterpress paper wrapper edition. CC Comments: This sold for basically the same price you can buy one direct from the publisher for (currently $95 US). Thornwillow Press is an approved printer by Agatha Christie Limited of this title. The book contains a section of supporting materials from archeologist and crime fiction scholar Dr. Reyes of Groton and Oxford University and a reproduced collection of maps and ephemera from Christie’s travels. Thornwillow Press prints this title in four different bindings: letterpress printed paper wrapper (limited to 250), half cloth and letterpress boards (250), half Morocco and paste paper boards (100), half Morocco with marble paper boards (18) and seven different styles in full leather (24 in total). The latter are very expensive. Given their very limited print runs unless Thornwillow starts printing other titles it is unlikely they will move to mainstream collectibles. Regardless, they will appeal to lovers of all things Christie.

Towards Zero, Collins Crime Club, Bombay, India (1944). Sold for £90 with 1 bid. First Indian edition. The pages are all nice, clean and clear apart from the first and last that are a bit discoloured and have a price written in blue. CC Comments: Collins printed a number of titles in India that periodically show up for sale. Most of the books are thinner than the UK counterparts and the jackets have some variations and pricing in rupees. Unlike most overseas books that were just distributed from the UK with unpriced jackets, for some reason Collins chose to print directly in India. This makes these books quite unique and they show up rarely with jackets. If one of our readers has more insight on Collins’ Indian printing arm please let us know.

Marika Somogyi Bronze Medal Sculpture & Mirror (1992). Sold for $424.95 US as a Buy It Now. Signed by the artist, some spotting on the inside of the leather, but sculpture remains a rare and fantastic piece. Numbered 61 /100. Dimensions of this item are: 4” x 6-3/4” and Weighs - 12.6oz. CC Comments: This is a small piece, about the size of a paperback, that is designed to have you view the sculpture of Christie in the mirror. It qualifies as our Christie oddity of the month. Marika is a well-respected Jewish female sculpture who survived the Holocaust in Hungary during her youth. Her works are in numerous museums and University collections around the world.

Folio Society Books:

Below are detailed a selection of Folio Society books. Many more sold in November, but these illustrate typical sales:

Set of 3: The Complete Hercule Poirot Short Stories, Folio Society (2003). Sold for £103.77 with 5 bids. Boxed set of three volumes.

Set of 4: Death on the Nile, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Orient Express, The ABC Murders, Folio Society (2014). Sold for $670 with 28 bids. Note: original price ~$150 US!

Death on the Nile, Folio Society (2014). Two copies sold separately – one as an auction that garnered for £321.19 with 33 bids, and one as a Buy It Now that sold for £220. This shows the value of sellers using auctions and buyers snapping up under-priced books.

Murder on the Orient Express, Folio Society (2014). Sold for £225 as a Buy It Now.

The ABC Murders, Folio Society (2014). Sold for £190 as a Buy It Now.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Folio Society (2014). Sold for £140 as a Buy It Now.

And Then There Were None, Folio Society (2017). Sold for $158.50 with 13 bids. Originally sold for $49.95 when new 3 years ago.

CC Comments re: Folio Society: As the prices realized show, these Folio editions are garnering a lot of interest. While on the surface the purchase of the Poirot box set of 4 appears a far cheaper deal than buying all four individually it is important to note that the Folio Society did sell the individual books with a single slip case while the box set was collectively all in one. Collectors seem to be favouring these individual ones at this time. If you are still building a collection of Folio Society books I would expect supply to start drying up as books find more permanent homes as short-term speculators unload inventory.

Factors to consider when using eBay:

Shipping costs are not included when assessed and any discounts extended by the seller to the buyer are unknown. Verification of products or descriptions are not done by Collecting Christie but are taken at face value. Buyers should always seek provenance or greater detail as needed when considering any high-priced item. Of particular note to be cautious of are signed editions. Well known and respected dealers in the trade are quite concerned about the volume of signed editions appearing in the market, especially those connected with various celebrity estates. As such, we are avoiding reviewing signed copies at this time unless the provenance is unquestionable.

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