• David Morris

2021 April: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales


April 2021 had a wonderful selection of unique and interesting Christie collectibles for sale on eBay. This month we’ve tried to provide a sampling of a broader variety of items rather than focusing on the higher priced early firsts or popular Folio editions. This month we look at paperbacks, reprints, ephemera, coins, and as always our oddity of the month – the last entry below. Enjoy!


For every item we profile below, we show the price realized as stated by eBay and the currency based on where it was listed. Generally, to convert, £1 UK = $1.40 US. 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. Each item cited below begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.


Absent in the Spring, Collins, London, UK (1944).

Sold for $885 US as a buy-it-now (picture above). Seller Comments: Near Fine Book in Near Fine Dust Jacket. Book binding tight and square. Original full bound cloth boards present well with bright color and crisp gilt stamped title. Externally fine but for mild spotting to top edges of front and rear boards and bottom and fore-edge text blocks. Moderate spotting to top text block. Internally Fine, bright, clean and unmarked but for gift inscription to front endpaper. Price Clipped.

CC Comments: First editions by Mary Westmacott are still highly collectible, but often forgotten by all but completist collectors. They are becoming uncommon in collector quality condition with complete jackets, so consider this well bought.


A Pocket Full of Rye, Collins Crime Club, London, UK (1953).

Sold for £208 UK with 17 bids. Seller Comments: First edition hardback.

CC Comments: Christie books from the 1950s continue to surprise to the upside in the prices they realize. This was a particularly nice copy, and could be fairly described as near fine in a very good plus jacket which likely accounts for the number of bids and high price. As we’ve commented before, collectors who have not finished their collection of later books (1950s-1970s) should strive to find near fine quality books now before the supply dries up.


The Mysterious Affair at Styles, John Lane/The National Book Company, USA (1920?).

Sold for $75 US as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Hard cover, early printing. States "Copyright 1920 by John Lane Company" on copyright page but the title page and bottom of the spine both read "The National Book Company." The cover is spotted and soiled, previous owner's name on title page and flyleaf, light foxing to endpages. Not perfect but an interesting early edition.

CC Comments: This book is generally considered the reprint edition, akin to Grosset and Dunlap reprinting books for Dodd Mead. It is interesting in that it uses the same printing sheets and cloth design. National Book Company (NBC) solely changed the imprint at the foot of the spine and on the title page. It often considered to have been printed in 1920 as NBC didn’t update the copyright page. While this is possible, it is arguably more likely that the book’s reprint rights were in a future year. Without definitive proof, and given the inscribed dates often found in these books it is likely it was published between 1922-1923. Very well bought as this is certainly well below market. Likely worth closer to $300 given its fairly tatty cloth, and that unjacketed first edition Dodd Meads from the early 1920s sell a little higher while unjacketed reprints by Grosset for these early titles are often under $100.


Witness for The Prosecution programme, Winter Garden Theatre, London, UK (1953).

Sold for £4.95 UK as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Good condition, some creasing, free from any annotation.

CC Comments: Play ephemera can be very appealing to many collectors and this is one of the best items related to this play (which has recently regained appeal in London due to its great setting in County Hall). This programme is from the true first run of the play at Winter Garden and includes some wonderful period photos of the actors. Very well bought.


Five Little Pigs, Collins Crime Club, Services Edition (paperback), London, UK (1945).

Sold for £158 UK with 5 bids. Seller Comments: Produced for the Services Central Book Depot for circulation to the Fighting forces of the Allied Nations.' The outside cover is in very good condition and the inside front cover has a biro inscription top left and a mark near the spine. Pages have no markings, no tears, no creases and no foxing.

CC Comments: A unique subset of the Collins paperbacks, the Services editions were first printed in 1943 and continued through 1946. The first 16 were unnumbered though their reprints were numbered c201-c216. After that services editions were numbered c217 onwards to c364. There are 7 known Christie titles to collect (a topic for one of our later articles). Despite believed print runs of up to 50,000 per title very few survived and there is no known definitive listing of all titles printed by Collins as Services Editions. Consequently, they are unique and a desirable collectible. This book sold for significantly more than the last one on eBay, though that was a buy-it-now. Thus this likely sets the new benchmark for a very good plus copy.


Typed letter signed by Agatha Christie (1974).

Sold for $699 US with 2 bids. Seller Comments: Beckett Grading Service authenticated.

CC Comments: Even when items are authenticated by a firm such as Beckett, collectors should do their own due diligence to minimize the risk of a forgery. While a TLS is less commonly forged that autographs in books, one must always be skeptical. In this case, it appeared highly authentic and sold for a market correct price. We’ve consistently seen that authentic signatures add about $600 US to the value of a book, so a TLS selling for $699 appears market correct.


The Murder on the Links, Penguin (paperback), London, UK (1936).

Sold for £263.88 UK with 32 bids. Seller Comments: Slight wear and marks to covers. Edges a little tanned but overall very good and with no inscriptions.

CC Comments: While many think this is the first paperback, John Lane The Bodley Head was the first to print this title in paperback in 1932. Thus, this is the correct first Penguin paperback and one of the first 50 titles Penguin published. With multiple bidders and a strong price realized for a very good condition copy, this was very well sold and perhaps surprisingly high. There’s a growing demand for true first edition paperbacks, but early printers of true first paperbacks such as The Bodley Head and Albatross are often forgotten. Penguin and Collins are commonly, but erroneously believed to be the first printers. Regardless, Penguin books in and of themselves are highly appealing for collectors and any of their first 50 titles, especially a Christie, will always sell well.


100 Years of Mystery £2 Gold Proof Coin & Silver Proof Coin, UK (2020).

Sold for £1,150 UK as a buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Limited presentation mintage of 250. Mint uncirculated. Gold coin is 22kt & weighs 16g. Silver coin is 925 proof and weights 12g.

CC Comments: The Gold coin is still in stock with the Royal Mint and retails for £1,035 and was limited to 250. The silver coin, produced in an edition of 2,250, is out of stock but generally sells for £65 from retailers that still have stock. The value of the base metals themselves would be ~ £700, so for the collectible appeal these are actually of very good value for the long term collector.


Margaret Rutherford signed photo (n.d.)

Sold for £145 UK with 6 bids. Seller Comments: Genuine signed photo, Measuring 3.1/2" x 5.1/2", In good condition.

CC Comments: There is a sizeable fan base for Margaret Rutherford. Combined with the appeal of Christie related collectibles it is easy to see why this highly appealing signed photo, despite its rather sloppy ink, had multiple bidders and garnered a strong price.


Oddity of the Month: Deck Chair “4:50 From Paddington” (n.d.)

Sold for £55 UK as a buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Vintage deck chair, excellent quality.

CC Comments: What fun. Perfect for that summer stay-cation.


Summary:

April continued to have a robust trade in the Folio Society books that we’ve heavily profiled in prior monthly reviews. Mont Blanc pens also continue to command strong pricing. Most of the volume continues to be reading copies of paperbacks and DVDs. However, themes still stand out for higher priced items – quality and scarcity are highly desirable, while steals are still to be found by sellers who use buy-it-now prices. Happy hunting!


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