• David Morris

2021 June: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales

Agatha Christie collectors continue to benefit from a robust selection of items on eBay, and June was no exception. Certain items continue to garner strong funds, including the Mont Blanc Writers Series pens, The Folio Society books and true first edition hardbacks. June also saw an increase in the sales of unjacketed US firsts, and prices appear firmer and growing. Below are a variety of items that sold in June, including a few that are a little different from those we usually profile just to provide more awareness of the breadth and range of collectibles sold each month.


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 = $1.40 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.


First, a selection of books....


The Boomerang Clue, Dodd Mead, New York, USA (1935).

Sold for $150 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: First US with dust jacket, which is intact with small tears on top slight wear and yellowing to pages. CC Comments: Deal of the month. Seller should regret listing this as a Buy-it-now. These 1930s Dodd Mead first editions are getting harder to find in very good or better condition and should be acquired now while still affordable. Exceptional well bought.


Three Act Tragedy, Crime Club, London, UK (1936).

Sold for £62.10 with 3 bids. Seller Comments: Here is a lovely Crime Club 6d net first edition, fourth impression paperback from 1936, still in its original wrapper. Both the book and wrapper are in very good plus condition. CC Comments: Collins printed three hardback copies of this title, two in January 1935 and one in December 1935. This fourth impression is Collins’ first paperback. While The Albatross published the true first paperback, in early 1935 preceding this Collins version, these early 6/- jacketed Collins paperbacks are very uncommon in this condition, and highly collected and very scarce in this condition. Well bought.


Death on the Nile, Avon #46, USA (1944).

Sold for $22.95 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comment: First paperback. CC Comments: The first paperback was actually printed by The Albatross in 1939, but this was the first US paperback copy. These early paperbacks have a strong following, with great shelf appeal and are still very affordable. The price realized was market correct.


A Murder is Announced, Collins Crime Club, London, UK (1950).

Sold for £295 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Very good plus book with very good plus dust wrapper with publisher insert. Neat ownership stamp on front endpapers and owner’s filing stamp on reverse of title page and contemporary newspaper review pasted on rear endpaper. Complete with very rare insert from publisher entitled ‘Her 50th Murder’ which includes a message from the then Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. CC Comments: The buyer of this item contacted us for information on how many other books were issued with these publicity supplements. There were two – this title and Curtain. Ephemera, such as this, is highly collectible as it was often discarded. A £200 premium was paid for this supplement, but given its condition and scarcity it was fairly bought.


The Mystery of The Blue Train, Collins Crime Club, London, UK (1951).

Sold for £30 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Reprint hardback with dust wrapper. Good plus condition. Pictorial dustwrapper is torn and creased with loss at spine-ends. CC Comments: Collins used art work that was similar to the original first editions, though often with a green background, on many reprints. For the price, they are an excellent way for cost conscious collectors to put together a collection of books that evoke the authenticity of the true firsts. Well bought and expect prices to rise on these over time.


Dead Man's Folly, Pocket Books, USA (1972).

Sold for $25 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: This edition, published by Pocket Books in 1972, features one of the more gruesome covers I've seen. In very good condition. The best/weirdest feature of this copy is not the mail-in card for the Detective Book Club inside, but the advertisement for Kent cigarettes found almost at the end of the book.

CC Comments: One of the 26 covers designed by Tom Adams for the US market, almost all of which are wrap around designs providing a greater narrative. While many collect Adams’ UK Fontana covers, collectors are less familiar with these US covers; however, in our opinion they are highly desirable to collect. For more details on Adams' US covers, click here.


Murder on the Orient Express, Venice Simplon Edition, HarperCollins, UK (1995).

Sold for £29 with 7 bids. Seller Comments: Limited edition - 1 of 500 copies produced for Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. CC Comments: See below.


Murder on the Orient Express, Venice Simplon Edition, HarperCollins, UK (2010).

Sold for £16 with 4 bids. Seller Comments: Limited edition - 1 of 1,000 copies produced for Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Good condition. The cover is marked with some wear, damage to the corners. Some of the gilding to the edges of the pages is worn. Some creasing to the pages from use.


CC Comments: We find these limited editions published by HarperCollins for the Venice Simplon Orient Express company highly appealing and desirable. Both of these were very well bought and in our opinion are solid long-term investments. They are great fun to seek and collect as there are a number of different versions that have seen published over the years, either in editions of 500 or 1,000. Given their quality and the prices Folio Society books command that have larger print runs, these books should already have consistent values of ~£75 - £100.


The Agatha Christie Collection, Planet Three, UK (2000-2004).

Sold for £675 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: The Complete Works from the Queen of Crime, including the two autobiography volumes. Each is in fine , clean, condition and features marbled endpapers and gilt titles on spines and cover. One volume has a couple spots of laminate bubbling on the boards. CC Comments: There were 83 books and the two-volume autobiography in this set. However, there were also magazines that can with each book. This sale price represents £8 per book, which is likely close to accurate for these. The full set with magazines would command significantly more, likely nearer £1,000. The collection is not ‘collectible’ but represents a great way to obtain quality reading copies of all the titles.


The Agatha Christie Collection (partial), Planet Three, UK (2000-2004).

Sold for £135 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: All 44 books are in very good condition. Some light scratches on some of the covers but only superficial and can be seen in certain light. CC Comments: For comparison, these sold £3 each (again no magazines), but this illustrates the value of a complete collection. A buyer seeking to assemble the full collection will now spend significant time and money filling in the gaps. If you want to own a Planet Three set, be patient and buy the complete collection with the magazines. They do show up and will be much easier to resell in the future.


And now for some stamps...


Joan Hickson First Day Cover (?), UK (1991).

Sold for £150 as a buy it now. Seller Comments: Agatha Christie FDC with illustration of the late actress Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Signed by Joan Hickson. With Folkestone Murder on the Orient Express Postmark 19th March 1991. CC Comments: A full panel from the 1991 “Alias Agatha Christie” stamp collection appears to have been affixed to this envelope and postmarked. The image of Joan Hickson also appears to be affixed and doesn’t appear consistent with the correct FDCs issued at this time. However, this signature at least seems authentic to our untrained eye. Full details on this series of stamps can be found by clicking here.


Pseudo FDC signed “Agatha Christie”, Washington, DC stamp (1974).

Sold for $195 with 1 bid. Seller Comments: This one is an original, not a copy nor reproduction, authentic hand signed first day cover by the great author Agatha Christie. CC Comments: Everything is wrong about this. The non-FDC envelope has images affixed onto it from the 1950s production of The Mousetrap in England (but has a US non-related stamp postmarked in 1974) and one that states ‘Agatha Christie’. In 1974 Agatha Christie was living in England was age 83. It seems somewhat unlikely that she would have signed a US stamped envelope, so the only logical explanation is, if legitimate, someone had her sign a blank envelope and then later dolled it up to look like an FDC. Collectively these two “FDCs” should remind buyers to scrutinize carefully what is purchased and question authenticity.

First Day Cover, signed by Suchet & Fraser, UK (2016).

Sold for £44 with 12 bids. Seller Comments: Signed by classic Poirot actors David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) and Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings). CC Comments: A very authentic and accurate signed cover featuring the wonderfully creative 2016 stamps celebrating Christie’s 100th year since she completed writing her first book. Well bought and a fun collectible. For those who aren’t familiar with this wonderful stamp collection and all its secret attributes, read our full article on them by clicking here.


And now for some at home entertainment...


A First Class Murder DVD Dinner Party Game, UK.

Sold for £10.99 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: An Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Game - New & Sealed. Condition : Brand New. CC Comments: Most households still have a DVD player so now that we can legally socialize again its time for fun activities such as this!


Death on Safari DVD (German dubbed version of Ten Little Indians), (1989).

Sold for £79.99 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Africa in the 1930s: Several people, most of them British citizens, want to take part in an exciting safari. Cult villain Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Blofeld in James Bond 007) leads here alongside Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther, Spartacus) and a great cast list. CC Comments: One of the lesser watched versions of Ten Little Indians and selling in German for a rather shockingly high price considering it’s free on Amazon Prime! Lockdown can cause strange things to occur.


And finally our "oddity of the month"...


Handmade 6" Hercule Poirot Custom Figurine, (2021).

Sold for £44.99 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: As these are handmade to order, each is a unique item and therefore no two are exactly the same and may have minor imperfections. CC Comments: Our oddity of the month. Enough said!



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. Happy hunting!


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