• David Morris

2022 June: Highlights of Agatha Christie eBay sales

This month’s review of worldwide eBay sales of Agatha Christie covers a variety of collectible items - not solely books. Hopefully something below will be of particular interest to you. Our goal for these articles is to show where the market currently is in terms of pricing and demand, and to show the broad range of collectibles available for fans of Agatha Christie works and world. Where a more detailed article exists about collecting the specific item discussed, a link is provided.


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 = $1.20 US = $1.75 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.



Hard Back Books:


Le Meurtre de Roger Ackroyd, Le Masque, Paris, France (1927).

Sold for €49 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Rare livre cartonne, Ed Le Masque No. 1, En bon a tres bon etat. CC Comments: This was actually the second printing of this title by Le Masque, circa 1930. The correct first printing on Edition No. 1 had green boards, as was the only Agatha Christie book with them. All future Christie books came with the yellow/orange boards. Sadly, missing the very collectible jacket which would have tripled its value as discussed in our full article on collecting the French Le Masque editions.


Death in the Clouds, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1935).

Sold for £370 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First edition, original orange cloth, soiling to the cloth, some recent repairs to the head and tail of the spine, new endpapers, advertisement pages to the rear. Comes with a facsimile DJ and blue cloth slip-box.

CC Comments: Strong money for a good only copy, but very good copies of this title are getting very hard to find so sometimes you must take what you can get. Of particular note though is the still present insert for the ‘Boots Booklovers Library’. This is very uncommon to find and may be something our readers are not overly familiar with though rebound Christie books from this ‘Library’ do show for sale periodically. From 1898 until 1966 it was a circulating library run by Boots the Chemist started in 1898 by Florence Boot, who was married to the chain founder’s son. Located in branches of Boots with dedicated library staff they displayed books for browsing on open shelves and offered different types of subscriptions that allowed you to borrow a book. If collectors find a Christie book with a green shield logo on the front and an eyelet at the top of the spine then you know it came from a Boots Library.


Murder with Mirrors, Dodd Mead & Co, New York, USA (1951).

Sold for $150 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Pages: No damage, stains, writing or foxing. Hinges: Intact. Binding: Minor wear. Dust Jacket: Complete, minor wear.

CC Comments: UK title: They Do It With Mirrors. Our recent article on true firsts from this period highlighted the relative scarcity of true US firsts from this period as many are actually Book Club Editions. This was the true first as was the jacket (priced on the flap, no reference to the Book Club). One of our readers contacted us to share that the easiest ways to identify the actual book is a true first is to ensure there is a list of other Agatha Christie books recently published on the fly page, The book club editions did not do this.


Postern of Fate, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1973).

Sold for $500 at auction with 1 bid. Seller Comments: First edition, signed by Christie on the front free endpaper. The book's prior owner was a student at Cambridge in the early 1970's. Condition of the book and DJ are Very Good. The binding is straight and sound. Inside pages are complete and unmarked. CC Comments: The irrelevant comment about the student being at Cambridge is humourous but certainly not provenance. As with any signed item where provenance is lacking it is caveat emptor. Our article on Christie’s signatures may be of help to those trying to make a judgment call!


Easton Press Set, Connecticut, USA (1999 – 2006).

Sold for $1,313 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Six volumes including Murder on the Orient Express, The ABC Murders, Death on the Nile, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Mystery of the Blue Train. Excellent Condition with as-new Easton Press bookplates in the rear of each book. CC Comments: Our detailed article discussing these books (click here) was written in June 2020 and at that time a set was worth ~$1,000. This is a fair price given the demand for collectible Christie items and these are lovely with their replica dust jacket images on the front fly leaf of each book.


Magazines and Paperbacks:


The Second Gong, The Strand Magazine, London, UK (August 1932).

Sold for £60 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First UK printing, though this short story was first published in the US in Ladies Home Journal. This magazine has the rear cover missing but has no other tears or loss. Tape along the spine used to protect from any future damage. CC Comments: A fairly tatty copy confirming that quality copies of The Strand can command much stronger moeny. In our series on true firsts, we highlight magazine collecting as an area with less interest – likely due to less information and confusion about where and when stories were first published. Many Christie stories first appeared in the UK in The Strand. This gives you something to search for at boot sales and flea markets! The Second Gong was included in the collection The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (US, 1948) and in the collection Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories (UK, 1991). More significantly, it was the basis for Dead Man's Mirror which was included in Murder in the Mews and Other Stories (UK, 1937).


The Mysterious Affair At Styles, Penguin No. 6, London, UK (1935) & Cover (c.1935).

Sold for £500 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Extremely scarce first edition, first printing vintage softcover of publishers Penguin with exceptionally rare green cloth penguin reading case. Very good condition overall copy with old tape to spine and light shelf wear. Tape to spine is falling off itself due to age so strongly suggest to allow it to ease off to avoid residue and loss. Else, visible old crease to fflep and to title page. Unmarked interior with no inscriptions, folds, tears, other creases or missing pages with usual tone to pages commensurate with vintage. In a very rare green cloth penguin reading case with silver penguin logo on front panel and spine tail. CC Comments: The Penguin stiff ‘reading case’ was not sold specifically with this book, but was sold as a separate item by Penguin that enabled you to tuck the covers of the paperback into the flaps and essentially have a quasi-hardback. Without the reading case, the paperback was likely worth only £150 in its condition – near fine copies have sold for up to £400. So the buyer clearly wanted the reading case. While not specific to Christie, they are very scarce and appealing to Penguin collectors. This sale implies a current market value of ~£350 for one.


Other Collectibles:


Montblanc Meisterstuck Agatha Christie Writer’s Edition fountain pen, Germany, (1993).

Sold for $1,384 with 42 bids. Seller Comments: Comes in original book-style presentation box with booklet and personal service card. 18k gold snake head nib. I do not know the nib size (Ed: Medium). There are no cracks or other problems that I can see. Piston filling system, which I have observed moving in the ink window in both directions. I have not inked the pen. There are no cracks or other problems that I can see. I judge it in excellent used condition. CC Comments: The more affordable version of the pen and sold a little above our price estimates from our article written in 2020 given that this was used and a little tarnished. The pens (fountain and rollerball) and pencils from this series still command strong money and are very collectible.


Hercule Poirot's Greatest Cases, BBC Radio, Audio 28 CDs (2007).

Sold for £135 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: This audiobook set is in very good condition, rare and hard to find. Collected in one set are 14 stories presented by a full cast. Drawn from Christie dramas that originally aired on BBC Radio 4, John Moffatt stars as Poirot. Title list: Murder on the Links; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; The Mystery of the Blue Train; Peril at End House; Lord Edgware Dies; Murder on the Orient Express; The ABC Murders; Murder in Mesopotamia; Death on the Nile; Hercule Poirots Christmas; Evil Under the Sun; Five Little Pigs; After the Funeral; and Halloween Party.

CC Comments: These full cast radio dramas are excellent and so much more that just an audio book. Well worth owning and enjoying. Of note, this was the set released in the USA, originally priced at $150.


Unique Collectible:


[Theatre] The Mousetrap 21st birthday menu, The Savoy, London, UK (1973).

Sold for £20 with 1 bid. Seller Comments: Plus an invitation addressed to Mr and Mrs John Scott. Age related wear, slightly grubby and a couple of marks. CC Comments: A highly unique collectible for those who collect all things Mousetrap. At this price, a steal.


Affordable Collectible:


[stamps] Central African Republic, Agatha Christie Writer's Stamps (2015).

Sold for $3 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Mint, no hinges. CC Comments: Many countries around the world have issued Agatha Christie related stamps. They can be a very affordable and a fun collectible/hobby. These are particularly appealing for fans of David Suchet's portrayal of Poirot. Who knows if the Central African Republic paid any licensing fees!


Overpriced Sales:

In June there were a number of sales of the HarperCollins facsimile editions that sold for over £100 / $120 per book. Buyers should exercise extreme caution when buying facsimile editions – these are not first editions with facsimile jackets, but newer reprints. The jackets are also not the same size as the original jackets and cannot be married to first edition books. In our opinion fair values are significantly lower than this - generally no more than a regular new hardback. Buyers should avoid overpaying for these common books and be patient when trying to build out a collection. Other online site such as ABEBooks or Alibris might help you find what you need at the right price.


Summary:

As we’ve said before, eBay offers great opportunities to add to your collection. Do your due diligence when buying on eBay and seek clarity from sellers on anything unclear or unsaid.


Happy hunting!


Final notes: The International Agatha Christie Festival is only 2 months away. For those attending, Collecting Christie is providing a session on collecting and celebrating 100 Years of Tommy & Tuppence. Tickets are complimentary but must be booked in advance (here). The whole agenda is filled with the whos who in the current world of Agatha Christie so hopefully you can attend many sessions. But again, book tickets early to avoid missing out on the sessions and speakers you want to hear.


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