• David Morris

2021 December: Review of eBay Agatha Christie sales

Collecting things is a great bond, isn’t it?” – Agatha Christie, 18 September 1967.


For December’s review of worldwide eBay sales of Agatha Christie related items, we’ve selected a range of sales including items old and newer, price records and a few cautionary items.


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 = €1.15 = $1.35 US = $1.90 AUST. 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, especially signed items. Each item cited below begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.


Les Sept Quadrans, Le Masque, Paris, France (1929).

Jacket only: Original title - The Seven Dials Mystery. Sold by auction for €115 with 17 bids. Seller Comments: Rare, fragile jacket for the second novel [in France] by Agatha Christie. Good in general. CC Comments: A lovely jacket that shouldn’t take too long to marry with a book of equal quality. In our recent review (click here) of the Le Masque books we stated these books can generally be found for €150 with a jacket, so this price is in alignment given that it’s only the jacket. Still incredible value for what are underappreciated collectibles. Well bought.


The Hound of Death, Odhams Press, London, UK (1933).

First Edition in jacket: Sold for £1,000 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: First edition, first impression. Publisher's original red cloth with black lettering to spine. A little faint marking to upper board and foxing to edges, near fine otherwise and free from previous owner names and inscriptions in a better than very good dust jacket with a couple of inconspicuous closed tears to top edge of upper panel and to spine foot; some rubbing in places and shallow chipping to corners. An excellent copy. CC Comments: In October 2021, a similar quality copy sold at Heritage Auctions for $1,500 (~£1,100). While the Odhams Press edition was the true first, the later Collins edition is actually far rarer and more valuable. Most copies of this book sell in the £100 - £300 range, with an original dust jacket. However, rarely are the dust jackets as complete and original as this one or the one auctioned by Heritage Many are heavily torn or chipped. As we’ve always said, buy the best condition you can afford and in this case a buyer made a statement that scarcity of quality justifies the price. With these two sales, the value of this book in near fine condition is benchmarked.


Murder on the Orient Express, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1934).

Second Impression: Sold for £675 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: A very good copy of a hugely collectible and rare novel. Foxing throughout, more so on the front few pages and at the end as well. Dated First edition Second impression, January 1934. Previous owners name on rear of front board. No other inscriptions, no tears or loss. Outer boards are marked and dusty but are sound and tight. CC Comments: The first printing of the first edition is of legendary scarcity so most copies that do show for sale are later printings, such as this one. However, this was a very strong price for this edition with good only cloth. Since most collectors want a copy of this on their shelves, prices will likely remain strong across all early editions. For our detailed article on collecting this title click here.


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

Paperback: Sold as a buy-it-now for £50. Seller Comments: Fair. Some wear and splits to covers, both ends of spine chipped. Contents clean. Pages mildly tanned. Signature inside front cover otherwise no inscriptions. CC Comments: This is the 2nd printing by Penguin, both in 1936. For some reason Penguin reused #6. It was originally The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but when Penguin issued this title they reused the #6.


Evil Under the Sun, Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, USA (1941).

First US Edition: Sold at auction for $109.16 with 2 bids. Seller Comments: Clean pages, no known markings within. Hard cover is in good condition. Binding is a little soft, but not broken, meaning it seems loose from the end, but both front and back covers are tight. CC Comments: A very uncommon contemporaneously modified first US edition. In the late 1930s and 1940s, a US company – Picture Cover Bindings - would take books and overlay the cloth binding with one that incorporated the dust jacket image. These were known as “Huntting Bound” books. All such books will appear as if the hinges were repaired as they removed the end papers to replace the cloth. A great oddity and well bought, but still more valuable with the original jacket.


Destination Unknown, John Bull magazines, UK (25th Sept 1954 to Oct 23rd 1954).

True First Printing: Sold at auction for £62 with 15 bids. Seller Comments: They contain the serialisation of Agatha Christie's new novel 'Destination Unknown'. The magazines are in very good condition for their age and entirely readable. There may occasionally be some small product coupons cut out of them. CC Comments: The first appearance of this novel in print. Throughout our series of ‘true firsts’ we comment how magazine collecting is an area fewer people tread despite most of Christie’s novels first appearing in magazines. Well bought… and as an aside one of our favourite standalone novels in a unique genre.


“The Poirot Six”, Easton Press, Norwalk, Connecticut, USA (1999, 2003-2006).

Limited Printing: Sold for $1,199.99 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: These books are in near mint condition with no sign of shelf wear. There is a new, unused, and unattached bookplate with each book (except Orient Express). The gilt on the edge of the pages is in almost perfect condition with only one volume with an ever so tiny scratch in the gilt. The rest are perfect. This set is as close to mint and perfect as you will ever get. CC Comments: Our article (click here) on this set from 2020 estimate the market value around $1,000 and so this is likely fairly bought and sold. For those unfamiliar with this set of books, they are a lovely set that includes images of the original Collins dust jackets adjacent to the title page. They were originally published in 1999, and then reprinted over several additional years. It is unclear when this set was printed, but the overall number of sets sold is still likely only a few thousand.


CAVEAT EMPTOR!

Below are two examples where buyers overpaid for an item. In the first case the seller (bigsky101kim) inaccurately described an item as a first edition. In the second, the seller (bound4u0) buried the key piece of information that the jacket was a reproduction in the last line of the description.


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, USA (1926).

Sold as a buy-it-now for $150. Seller Comments: 1st Edition. Book is in excellent condition for its age. Please review all photos as they are part of the description. I've photographed all the damage I could find. From a nonsmoking household. CC Comments: An inaccurate listing and sadly bought by an uninformed buyer. This Grosset & Dunlap reprint is likely from 1928 or later – probably the 1940s. This book was heavily reprinted and the first eight reprintings all had the month and year listed and used a similar design on the cloth to the correct first edition – which included a large question mark. Many later reprints, especially during the war years, skipped providing the printing chronology.


The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1960).

Sold for £155 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: 1st/1st, first edition, first printing, bound in the publishers original red cloth with black lettering to the spine, original clean unsplit endpapers, tightly bound spotless text, no foxing. This copy comes with a facsimile first edition dust wrapper. CC Comments: Sadly a buyer may not have noticed the last comment here – facsimile dust wrapper. The seller also put 1st/1st in the listing line which is misleading and described it as “near fine”. While it may be a 1st edition, 1st printing, many eBay buyers will interpret this as 1st edition, 1st jacket. As a book without a jacket (which is hard to justify as “near fine” for a 1960s printing), it is worth only £20-30. Since this was sold on 5-December, I expect this ended up as a Christmas gift for someone bought with good intentions by a less knowledgeable collector.


Summary:

As we’ve said before, eBay offers great opportunities but also tremendous pitfalls. Do your due diligence when buying on eBay. Do not always take seller descriptions at face value. Sellers want to sell and consequently they may inflate the quality of a book or ignore blatant issues or risks. Calling a reprint a first edition, a signature real, a good-only book fine, or an unopened book a first when identical reprints are known to exist are examples of these risks. We encourage eBay sellers to be far more transparent and accurate with their listings.


Happy hunting!


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