• David Morris

2021 May: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales.

Christie collectors had plenty to choose from in May 2021 on eBay. As usual, we’ve tried to provide a sampling of the broad variety of the more interesting or collectible items. Each month we review sales in paperbacks, reprints, ephemera, and coins, amongst other odder categories. While there continues to be a robust trade in normal fare, such as reading copies and DVDs, there are always a few truly great items that would make any collector happy to own them.


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 = $2 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.


A Selection of UK Published Books:

The Murder on the Links, John Lane, The Bodley Head, London, UK (1928). Sold for £700.10 as an auction with 33 bids. Seller Comments: Orange cloth covered boards with black decoration on the front and spine titles. Illustrated dustjacket. This is the ‘Cheap Edition’. CC Comments: For this title, the cheap edition was effectively the 5th printing. These 2/- priced reprints are very collectible but certainly far more common than the 3/6 reprints that sometimes used the same original artwork. This is a lovely early Bodley Head book, becoming more collectible, while the earlier reprints are rarer still in jacket, and significantly more valuable.

The Murder on the Links, Penguin, London, UK (August, 1938). Sold for £145 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Foxing to endpapers, neat ownership inscription, browning to page edges in a VG unclipped jacket with fading/soiling to spine and minor loss to spine ends. First published by Penguin in 1936 so this is an early reprint of what is probably the scarcest Christie title. Very elusive edition especially in the jacket. CC Comments: A number of paperback publishers followed the lead of The Albatross in using jackets on paperbacks, though it didn’t last long. For Penguin collectors, these are very collectible when the jacket is present.

Poirot Knows the Murderer, Polybooks, London, UK (1946). Sold for £105 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Cover design by Reina M. Sington. This is extremely rare, cannot see another copy of this small (16cm by 11cm) pocketbook available for sale. This copy's cover has edge wear and crease along the spine. Inside, the adverts are tight and clean with no markings and occasional foxing. It features three short stories: Mystery of the Baghdad Chest, Crime in Cabin 66 and Christmas Adventure. CC Comments: There were three UK publishers near the end of World War II who started publishing short stories – either individually or in a small collection. They were Todd Publishing, Polybooks, and Vallancey Press. All are very uncommon and highly collectible if you can find them. We have written a detailed on these (click here) for those that interested in learning more.

Set of early Pan paperbacks, UK (1950s). Sold for £156.99 at auction with 17 bids. No Seller Comments – just pictures. CC Comments: Included in this set of 11 paperbacks were a number of covers that aren’t seen that often, including The Moving Finger (1950) with its green cover. Specifics weren’t provided on the publishing dates of most of the books but there was likely some titles here Pan collectors have a hard time finding. For those interest in collecting early Pan books our article about the first five may be of interest. Click here for details.


Two Signed Books:

The ABC Murders, Penguin, UK (August, 1948). Sold for £525 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller’s Comments: Vintage Penguin signed by Agatha Christie, book has sign of wear and tear and pages are yellow and foxing. CC Comments: This is the first Penguin edition of this title. While no opinion is made regarding the signature’s authenticity, the price is in alignment with the general position that a flat signed book can add up to £500 in value.

The Burden, Collins, UK (1973). Sold for £525 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller’s Comments: A near fine copy that seems unread. Signed by Agatha Christie Mallowan onto the title page. No inscriptions, tears or loss. Dated 1973 on the title page. Second edition. Outer blue boards are unmarked and universal throughout. The dust jacket is complete with no loss or scuffs. CC Comments: Consistent with the comments above, an unsigned 2nd edition of this book is certainly worth no more than £25.


A selection of Folio Society Sales:

Miss Marple Novels Box Set, The Folio Society, UK (2012). Sold for $699.97 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: 4-volume slipcased set containing A Pocket Full of Rye, The Body in the Library, The Murder at the Vicarage, & Sleeping Murder. Very good to excellent condition.


Hercule Poirot Novels Box Set, The Folio Society, UK (2014). Sold for £500 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Death on the Nile, The ABC Murders, Murder on the Orient Express, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. All Fine Copies in hardcover slipcase. Each volume richly illustrated by Andrew Davidson. A stunning collection. Sold as a set only.


And Then There Were None, The Folio Society, UK (2017). Sold for $500 Canadian (~$410 US) as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First thus edition, rare copy. Title page plus 15 integrated black and white illustrations by David Lupton. Book and slip case are Fine/Like New.


CC Comments: Aside from a few titles, most Folio Society books continue to have strong pricing and demand, with plenty of trading volume each month. They clearly continue to appeal to collectors, and rightly so.


A Couple of North American Published Items:

The Murder at Hazelmoor. New York: Dodd, Mead, (1931). Sold for $525 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First Edition - American. Small bookstore label. Very good lightly used copy with very minor shelf wear in a very good lightly dust soiled dust jacket with some chipping (mainly at the top & bottom of the spine), a few small creases, and a handwritten notation in ink on the front panel which has been marked out. CC Comments: This is the true first printing of this book – published several months later in the UK as The Sittaford Mystery. As such, it is an essential item for collectors of true firsts. A fairly tatty jacket, but well bought at this price.

They Came To Baghdad, Toronto Star, Canada (1 September 1951). Sold for $46 Canadian (~$38 US) at auction with 10 bids. Seller Comments: In the 1950's and 60's the Toronto Star weekend editions included a novel insert. CC Comments: While the first UK and US printings occurred earlier in 1951, it is unclear when Canada first had a hardback printing of this title. Regardless, it is the first North American newspaper, paperback or magazine printing of this title though it was abridged. A unique fun collectible and the sort of item we love to see show up on eBay.


Other Collectibles:

English Heritage Blue Plaque China Plate 10.5", made in the UK (new). Sold for £24.99 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comment: This product has been created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Blue Plaques Scheme, and the 900 iconic blue plaques that now adorn the facades of buildings all across Greater London. Designed and produced under licence by Product Of Your Environment, a product design and ideas studio based in London who specialise in creating bespoke products. By buying this product you are supporting English Heritages work to conserve and present these historic plates. CC Comments: A think a collection of these from multiple Golden Age detective fiction writers would make wonderful plateware for a dinner party.

Our oddity of the month: Iceberg Stricki Pullover “Agatha Christie Orient Express”, Italy (Vintage 1990s). Sold for $204.42 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Size XXL. Very good, rare model, normal tracks of wear and use, haven’t seen it another time. CC Comments: Iceberg made various clothing items in the 1990s with Christie-related designs. They are often very large sizes, so likely unsold stock, but potentially a true novelty item to wear to the upcoming Agatha Christie festival.


Other Observations:

There were two unjacketed first UK editions that sold for negotiated prices. These included Death on the Nile, listed at £800, and a 1939 alternate binding version of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, originally listed at £699.99, but both sales imply strengthening prices for unjacketed Collins books from the 1930s. A few sales of US unjacketed copies were unusual to the high side. For example, a 1944 copy of Towards Zero with the Blakiston imprint (thus second printing) sold for $120 which is shockingly high. Also, a copy of Sad Cypress (1940) in a facsimile jacket sold for $262.50 and Mr. Parker Pyne Detective (1934) sold for $220, which both seem high. Further monitoring of unjacketed US books from the 1930s and 1940s is warranted, but my sense is these are aberrations.


Summary:

Other items not profiled, such as Mont Blanc pens, Royal Mint coins and stamps, all continue to trade heavily each month, but there was no noticeable change in pricing from prior months. As we’ve often noted many of the great buys are achieved from Buy-It-Now listing where the seller may be too keen to sell or unaware of value. But the alternate exists too as there are a lot of overpriced items that sit for months on end. As always, buy quality when you can as long as you can afford it. Happy hunting!


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