• David Morris

2021 July: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales.


Every month we review sales of Agatha Christie sales on eBay's various global sites, such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, USA and Australia. Depending on the shipping policies of sellers around the world, many items may not show on your domestic site so some of these items may be new to regular eBay watchers. From the sales we select a few items that we find interesting or demonstrate price trends. Christie related items are generally blue chip collectibles but eBay can be a minefield for the novice collector. eBay buyers should always scrutinize listings carefully and seek expert opinions for high priced items if unsure about them. That said, there are also bargains galore as many sellers who use 'Buy it now' listings may not be aware of the rarity or value of items they list. For every item we profile below, we show the price realized in the currency based on where it was listed. Generally, to convert, £1 UK = €1.15 EU = $1.40 US = $1.90 AUST.


Montblanc Pens:

Fountain pen (standard), Ballpoint & Pencil set, Montblanc (1993). Sold for €2,150 at auction with 11 bids.

Seller Comments: Used, limited "Writer's Edition Agatha Christie" set, in almost new condition. I can't see any scratches even under the magnifying glass. CC Comments: Came with a box and Montblanc leather case. In need of a cleaning, but affirms the strong market for these pens, even in a used state.


Other sales of note included an as-new fountain pen (standard) for €1,076 at auction with 17 bids and an as-new pencil for €700 as a Buy It Now. Both with correct boxes. For our detailed article on collecting these Agatha Christie Montblanc pens click here.


Collins Books:

Death on the Nile, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1937). First edition. Sold for £182 at auction with 6 bids.

Seller Comments: Light edge wear/browning to boards; no jacket. Light foxing to pages with minor spotting/corner folds in places. CC Comments: A strong price for this 'good only' copy, but proving that there is demand for all quality levels of books and that inventory is quite minimal. Finding books in this condition is an affordable way to build a collection of true firsts, but price appreciation will always lag better quality copies. The general guidance for book collecting still holds true – buy what you love and buy the best that you can afford.


There were several other unjacketed books that sold for strong money in similar condition, including:

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1940) for £112 and Towards Zero (1944) for £110. For the latter, a jacketed copy could be acquired for this price about 5 years ago!


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Collins, The Crime Club, UK (1950). 19th impression. Sold for £95 as a Buy It Now.

Seller Comments: VG+/VG+. Ownership stamp on front endpaper and owner’s private library stamp on verso of title page, no other inscriptions, hint of foxing to prelims in a VG+ unclipped jacket with minor wear to top of the spine. CC Comments: A wonderfully affordably way to obtain a copy of this Christie classic that integrated the original 1926 first edition cover art onto the jacket.


Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1952). First Edition. Sold for £175 as a Buy It Now.

Seller Comments: About very-good, two small bumps to front board. No inscriptions and clean internally. Slight spine lean. The dustwrapper is somewhat faded to spine but is original and unrestored and is not price clipped. CC Comments: We commented multiple times over the last few months that prices were strengthening for the 1950s Christies especially in complete jackets. Prices for these books will soon be where the 1940s copies were just a few years ago.


Adventure Of Christmas Pudding, Collins, London, UK (1960). Uncorrected Advance Proof copy. Sold for £100 at auction with 6 bids.

Seller Comments: Condition is "Acceptable". The cover is a bit grubby, folded down on the corners and has some scratches on it. Internally it is unmarked except some initials on the title page. CC Comments: Uncorrected proofs from the 1960s and 1970s used to be quite common as the distribution list was likely very large given the number of media outlets writing reviews. Over the last few years fewer show for sale, indicating many have found more permanent homes. This was well bought and demand for less common Christie items such as this will certainly grow.


Paperbacks:

And Then There Were None, Pocket Books #261, USA (1944). Sold for $18.50 at auction with 20 bids. Seller Comments: Good or better. First printing. CC Comments: This is the first paperback printing of under the US title for this book, but it was reprinted several times so hopefully this is the first issue. An affordable collectible. Well bought.


Ten Little Niggers, Penguin, UK (1958). Sold for £95 at auction with 47 bids. Seller Comments: 1st Penguin Edition vintage paperback. CC Comments: An unfortunate title cited here and below only for accuracy. This is the correct first Penguin printing – a ‘white stripe’ cover – number 1256. For Penguin collectors this can be a hard book to find in this condition.


Ten Little Niggers, Collins – Fontana, UK (1964). Sold for $124.50 AUST at auction with 33 bids. Seller Comments: Published in April 1964. Two corner creases to the cover. Inside, there is no writing or damage ~ a nice clean copy ~ looks unread. CC Comments: Surprisingly strong interest and money given that the true first Fontana edition was in 1963, even though the cover was the same. In wasn’t until 1985 that Fontana finally changed the name to the more acceptable US title.


US Reprints by Grosset & Dunlap:

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Grosset & Dunlap, NY (1926). Sold at auction for $88.89 with 15 bids.

Seller Comments: We do not grade books. This book came from a serious collector.

CC Comments: Could the seller have made less effort to describe this book! The images show this to be the 7th printing from December 1926. This is different from the 8th printing in May 1927 in that the title page is still using the Dodd, Mead & Co. name. For the 8th printing, Grosset & Dunlap changed the title page to utilize their own name. Cover art matches the Dodd, Mead & Co. first printing.


The Mysterious Mr. Quin, Grosset & Dunlap, NY (circa 1930). Sold at auction for $159.45 with 7 bids.

Seller Comments: We do not grade books. This book came from a serious collector. CC Comments: Same seller using as little effort to describe the book as possible. Stated 1930 in the listing but no phone of the copyright page. Cover art matches the Dodd, Mead & Co first printing. Strong money.


All these early (pre-WWII) Grosset & Dunlap reprints are very collectible and gaining a following. They offer an incredibly affordable way to build a collection of early printings with similar cover art to the firsts (in most cases). Between the two, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is much more common given the number of reprintings it had. Thus the much higher price for Mr. Quin which appears less frequently for sale.


The Murder on the Links, Grosset & Dunlap, USA (1940s). Sold for $150 at auction with 1 bid.

Seller Comments: 1st edition 1923. A little damaged from age, a nice book for being over 100 years old. CC Comments: A great example of why to doubt the descriptions of many items sold on eBay. This is the Madison Square (MS) reprint version of this title and while not dated all of these reprints were done in wartime. Unfortunately, many sellers will list the age of these MS printings incorrectly because they didn’t add a current date to the original copyright page. Hopefully the buyer really wanted this book because the price realized was about triple what a patient buyer can find one for. The other title commonly incorrectly listed is The Mysterious Affair at Styles MS reprint.



An Italian Printing:

Se Morisse Mio Marito (Lord Edgware Dies), Mondadori, Italy (1935). First Italian Edition. Sold for €85 as a Buy It Now. Picture at the top of the article.

Seller Comments: none. CC Comments: Appears to be the correct first edition in jacket. There were several other Christie’s of this period sold at a similar price range. Generally foreign language printings are far more affordable than English language books from this period of time and can be great fun to collect even though they are still hard to find in very good condition.


Oddity of the month:

Tiles from Agatha Christie’s fireplace in Winterbrook House. A total of 6 tiles available for sale. Three have sold already for $60 each as a Buy It Now. At the time of this article, three remained for sale.

Seller Comments: These tiles are from the fireplace surround of her home, purchased in 1934 – Winterbrook House, Wallingford, near Oxford. Very rarely do you find an item with Agatha in the same photo as the item for sale, the first probably late 1930s and again with Max when she was in her 70s. This is the best possible evidence of provenance. Agatha installed the tiles. They are from the designs of Truda Carter of Poole Pottery. Mr. Gill, the subsequent owner of the home, gave the tiles to the Poole Pottery museum, which closed and had a sale (#5520, 31 March 2004) at Christie’s, London. These tiles were among several others in LOT. 88. Buyers will get a photocopy of the auction lot and cover. Size of each tile, just under 5 x5 inches (12.2 X 12.2 cm). CC Comments: You could have bought the house for £2,750,000 recently too and then put them back!


Other items of note:

The Folio Society books: They continue to have a strong collector base and firm prices.

3 volume set: The Complete Hercule Poirot Stories (2003). Sold for $275 as a Buy It Now.

The ABC Murders (2004). Sold for £200 as a Buy It Now.

The Murder on the Orient Express (2014). Unopened. Sold for £173 at auction with 27 bids.

More details on collecting these books can be found here.


The Easton Press:

Another quality series of reprint that saw several copies change hands in July for strong prices. All three sold for £140-£180. They were:

Murder on the Links, The Murder at the Vicarage, and Sleeping Murder.

For our full story on collecting the Poirot titles issued by Easton Press click here.


Bantam Leatherettes: 1980s-1990s:

A set of 84 Bantam leatherette Christies sold for $760 at auction with 48 bids. Another set of 88 unopened books plus the engagement diary sold for $1,200 as a Buy It Now.


Planet Three editions: 2000s: Set of 82 Christie books published by Planet Three. Sold for £258 at auction with 42 bids.


Summary:

Hopefully this month’s selection of items has informed and entertained. As is always the case eBay offer Christie collectors opportunities and pitfalls. Do your due diligence, but ultimately buy what you love and makes you happy.


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"Collecting is cheaper than therapy."

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