• David Morris

2021 February: Highlights of Christie eBay sales.

Updated: Mar 7


February 2021 had a wonderful selection of unique and interesting Christie collectibles for sale on eBay, many of which found new homes. Paperbacks were perhaps the star for the month, with many unique and rare items sold. There continued to be a brisk trade in Folio editions, a number of first hardbacks, and even a few highly collectible magazines. For those interested in foreign printings there was a nice set of Italian first editions from the 1930s. Amongst various other items there is our "little gem 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. 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. Each item cited below includes the seller's photograph and begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.


Rare Paperbacks:

As the items below show, there is a robust market on eBay for rare and collectible paperbacks. February shone with many truly scarce items changing hands for mostly market correct pricing showing a growing demand for this more affordable (for now) segment of Christie collectibles.


The Mysterious Affair At Styles, Penguin no 6, 1935. Sold by auction for £364 with 16 bids (picture at top). Seller Comments: A Penguin 1st Edition of what is the most difficult pre-war Penguin to find. One of the first 10 titles published in 1935, and reprinted after in many editions, but this is the real deal, the first edition! Around VG- condition. CC Comments: There are a number of very collectible Christie paperbacks, and then there are the deeply valuable and scarce of which this is likely near the top. It will make a great addition to any Christie collection and this correct first printing in this condition is most uncommon.


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Pocket Book #5, 1939. Sold for $125 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Unread and recently found stock. Almost Fine condition Near Perfect! Unopened since 1939. No Wear. Extremely Light Aging. 4th Printing, September 1939. Very glossy and perfect exterior. Snow White Pages. Extremely Rare in this top-notch condition! CC Comments: Following the theme of valuable and scarce paperbacks, this Pocket Book #5 is one of only a handful of truly valuable and scarce Christie paperbacks, with the above Penguin #6 at the top of that list. With this Pocket Book being the 4th printing, it is likely a correct 1st Pocket Book in similar near fine condition would command ~£275 UK / $400 US. For our full article on collecting this book click here.


Mystery of the Blue Geranium, Bantam Publications #26, Los Angeles, 1940. Sold by auction for $199.99 with 2 bids. Seller Comments: This book was the first (or near first) Agatha Christie published in paperback form in the U.S. and due to the very limited distribution by this publisher these "L.A. Bantams" are extremely difficult to find. There were two cover versions - a plain blue cover with black text on yellow background and this illustrated cover. Overall a VG/VG+ book. CC Comments: Not the first paperback in the US. As referenced earlier PB #5 was printed in 1939 (and reprinted 3 additional times that year), and Red Arrow books printed a paperback version of 13 at Dinner in 1939 also. Regardless this is a very uncommon paperback. There were actually 3 covers to this book, though while the green cover was definitely printed in 1941, the blue cover and the illustrated cover do not have a clear print sequence. Originally laminated, it does appear that the lamination was missing from this copy which may account for much of the colour loss. The book contains 5 of the stories from The Tuesday Club Murders. A scarce collectible that traded at the right price.


Poirot Lends A Hand, Polybooks, England, 1946. Sold by auction for £132.05 with 15 bids. Seller Comments: Rare vintage Agatha Christie 1946 Polybook series, Poirot Lends A Hand, consisting of three separate stories. Please note crease to front cover and rusting around staples. Otherwise, all in good condition for age, with some great adverts too. CC Comments: One of several small paperbacks published by Polybooks in the 1940s, all of which are very uncommon and highly collectible. They are thin and fragile and so very few have survived. The price is spot on so well sold and bought. Our full article on Polybook Christies can be found here.


Towards Zero, Pan #54, 1948. Sold for £35 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: First edition.

Death on the Nile, Pan #87, 1949. Sold at auction for £50 with one bid. Seller Comments: Fair condition.

CC Comments: These two Pan books are part of the first five Christie books published by Pan. While more affordable than the other paperbacks already discussed they can be a challenge to find in collector quality condition. For our detailed article on collecting these Pans click here.


Paperback Summary: These Christie paperbacks detailed above include many of the most valuable and thus costly to acquire. Other rare paperbacks are the Albatross Crime Club series, The Bodley Head 9d series and the Collins 6d novels. Some consider these 'soft backs' and the precursor of the affordable paperback. Post Penguin, other rare paperbacks include the Canadian Collins White Circle titles (five in total) which are almost as rare as Penguin #6 and Pocket Book #5, but they are much more affordable (full article here). Also sought by collectors is the 1979 Fontana Miss Marple’s Final Cases (the last Tom Adams cover) which was strangely only sold on the Continent, not in the UK, and is still quite affordable when found.


Collectible First Edition Hardbacks:

Below is a selection of UK, US and Italian First editions sold on eBay in February 2021.

The Big Four, Collins, London, UK, 1927. Sold for $449 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: First Printing, a few creased page corners, no former owner or bookstore marking, foxing to first few/last few pages, no fading/wear to lettering on spine or front panel, no wear to board edges, board corners or spine tips. Facsimile jacket included. CC Comments: Very good or better copies of this somewhat unloved book are getting hard to find, so while the spine cloth showed signs of separating, this is well bought.


Mystery of the Blue Train, Dodd Mead & Co, NY, USA, 1928. Sold for $330 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: First American Edition. Tiny tear at spine foot, top stain a bit faded, else a Fine copy. CC Comments: It wasn’t that many years ago that you could by this book in a dust jacket for this price as it is the most common US Christie from the 1920s. This certainly affirms the ongoing upward trend in early US first editions, but arguably this was well sold.


Murder in the Calais Coach, Dodd Mead & Co, NY, USA, 1934. Sold for $500 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Very Good plus. First U.S. Edition. Boards are lightly worn at extremities with some fraying at top of spine. Some light general spotting. Binding is sound. Some smudging to edges of text block but otherwise pages clean and unmarked. CC Comments: Many jacket-less copies of this book appear soiled and well worn. This one was more of a survivor and confirms that quality commands a premium despite its unfortunate name change.


Murder on the Orient Express, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK, 1934. Sold for $1,700 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: True first edition in original cloth. Inside front cover has a few date stamps from 1935/1936 & a Warwickshire library stamp (also inside the rear cover). Small name stamp on the inside of the boards. Title page & book pages are all clear of markings & in very good condition. No foxing. Slight spine slant. CC Comments: As our article (click here to read) on collecting this book stated, most first printings of this title appeared to have gone to libraries. Consequently, many still show the library stamps or have been rebound or repapered. This copy showed signs of wear and had plenty of cloth markings, which is unfortunately common for this title. Arguably the hardest first printing to find from the 1930s.


Four Italian First Editions: Foreign language first editions will mostly appeal to those who read the language or grew up with these books. However, the first edition jacket art for any 1920-1940 Christie is always going to be scarce and desirable and can be a great pleasure to own solely for the artistic merits.

Dalle Nove Alle Dieci, Mondadori, Italy, 1930. Sold for €110 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Cartonato editoriale con sovraccoperta, pp 249 buone condizioni. segni di uso e mende alla sovraccoperta. CC Comments: Literal translation is From Nine to Ten, and is the Italian version of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.


Aiuto Poirot!, Mondadori, Italy, 1934. Sold for €40 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Cartonato editoriale con sovraccoperta, pp 245 buone condizioni. Lievi mende e segni di uso alla sovraccoperta. CC Comments: Literal translation is Help Poirot!, and is the Italian version of Murder on the Links.


Orient Express, Mondadori, Italy, 1935. Sold for €85 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Cartonato editoriale con sovraccoperta, pp 262 buone condizioni. Lievi segni di uso alla sovraccoperta. CC Comments: Don’t think a title translation is needed here!


Tragedia In Tre Atti, Mondadori, Italy, 1937. Sold for €35 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Cartonato editoriale con sovraccoperta, pp 253 buone condizioni. Lievi segni di uso alla sovraccoperta. Da segnalare strappo pagina bianca in antiporta nella parte inferiore che non inficia testo scritto. CC Comments: The Italian version of Three Act Tragedy (UK) and Murder in Three Acts (US).


All four of these Italian firsts were incredibly well bought and offer tremendous value given their age and the quality of their jackets. For those who don't read Italian, most of the seller's comments reference their good condition and note jacket flaws.


Other Hardbacks of Note:

Set of 85 HarperCollins Facsimile 1st edition with dust jackets (2000s). Sold at auction for £587.50 with 19 bids. Seller Comments: Complete collection of the 85 book set of Facsimile 1st editions with reproduction Collins Crime Club jackets. Condition is "Very Good". Only slight signs of shelf wear due to light otherwise as good as the day they were printed. CC Comments: There are likely many individuals who have collected all of these books so seeing a set of 85 books sold with 19 bids helps define the going rate en masse (£7 per book).


Miss Marple box set, Folio Society, London, UK, 2012. Sold at auction for $660 with 5 bids. Seller Comments: Brand New, still sealed but with slight tears in the shrink wrap at the corners, but otherwise the slip case looks to be in fine condition. There is one slight indent in the cover. CC Comments: It’s time for us to update our article on collecting Folio Society books. As we predicted a year ago in our May 2020 article prices for these lovely books would escalate – and they have. A year ago, this set could have been acquired for ~£120 ($150 US). The demand for all Folio Society Christie printings is not waning as the quality and scarcity is gaining appreciation.


Magazines of Note:

Many of Christie’s early short stories and novels first appeared in magazines. It is an area that has not received as much attention as first edition books, and as such allows for an affordable way to collect her works.

Problem at Sea, This Week Magazine, 12th January 1936. Sold for $79.99 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Used, also features stories by Earl Stanley Gardiner, Emily Post, Albert Payson Terhune. Cover by Russell Sambrook. CC Comments: The correct first printing of this Poirot story. In the U.K. it appeared the following month in The Strand Magazine as Poirot and the Crime in Cabin 66. It was later gathered and published in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (US) in 1939 – its first hardback appearance. In the U.K., the story was part of the rare 1946 Polybook Poirot Knows the Murderer, and later in the 1974 UK collection Poirot's Early Cases. A lovely first magazine of a popular short story. Well bought.


The Flock of Geryon, The Strand Magazine, August 1940. Sold by auction for £58 with 9 bids. Seller Comments: First published in the US in 'This Week' magazine in May 1940 and titled 'Weird Monster.' This is the first UK publication and seven years later was one of the collected stories in 'The Labours of Hercules.' CC Comments: As the second printing, it sold for strong money, but there are many collectors who seek all The Strand Magazines that contain Christie’s works. Well sold.


Film & TV Memorabilia:

Miss Marple Sleeping Murder BBC Television Script & Papers 1986. Sold for a negotiated price below £120. Seller Comments: Original Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Sleeping Murder (Part One) a BBC Television Script & various papers consisting of schedules/plans (300+ pages) dated June/July 1986. Penned on the front of both set of papers with the name of 'Sheila' who I presume is the actress Sheila Raynor who played the shop assistant. CC Comments: Film and television memorabilia have a distinct market. Many scripts that appear were mass produced and period authenticity is hard to come by. With the inclusion of additional contemporaneous documents, this was an authentic batch. Very affordable and fun to own for the fan of the Miss Marple TV series.


Little Gem of the Month:

Burgh Island - Ye Treasure of Tom Crocker (c. 1935). Sold for £55 as a Buy-it-now. Seller Comments: Original brochure (first edition) for the Burgh Island Hotel near Bigbury-on-Sea. Card wraps with stitched binding, 12 printed pages. Covers browned and foxed. Light soiling to rear cover. Foxing to text, previous owner's name to upper margin of first page. Undated but circa 1935, when the hotel was a popular haunt of celebrities such as Agatha Christie and Noel Coward. Also included is an unused photo postcard showing the hotel's H.M.S. Ganges Room (with couple of stains to reverse). Rare. Overall Condition is Good. CC Comments: One that got away… would have loved this for our collection of related memorabilia. A wonderful way to get a sense of how Burgh Island would have been in the decade that Christie visited often.


Summary:

As all these items show, there continues to be a robust world of Christie Collectibles on eBay, with something for everyone. Of note in February there were many 1950s-1960s Collins first editions bought via low priced Buy-it-now listings by a well-known Christie dealer. These have all been relisted on the dealer’s website for significantly higher prices. There are several considerations here: first, if sellers are unsure of value, consider auctions; second, the dealer may be seeing growing demand for these decades that historically have been unloved by collectors because of the large print runs and uninspired cover art. But as time goes on, quality dust jackets that are near fine or better are becoming scarce, regardless of the year. My sense also is that there is now a growing demand for later Christies with jackets at these grade levels.


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