• David Morris

2022 March: Highlights of Agatha Christie sales on eBay.

This month’s review of worldwide eBay sales of Agatha Christie related items focuses more on books, especially first editions including a number of Westmacott titles. Every month sees high volumes of trading in reading copies of her books, DVDs, and mass-produced reprints, such as the Bantam leatherette books. In addition, The Folio Society books continue to have lasting appeal, with strong money realized for those in as new condition.


The few items we’ve profiled below are all less common and hopefully are of interest to our readers. Over the months, these eBay reviews provide some insights into the current market for Christie collectibles. While there is still a robust marketplace with dealers, these ‘retail’ transactions are less transparent as many prices are negotiated away from the public.


As with February’s sales, it should be noted that a number of the books sold appear to be from the collection of noted Christie historian Karl Pike. This is continuing into April which is leading to a good selection of books that often don't appear on eBay.


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.


A Selection of First Editions:


The Man in the Brown Suit, The Bodley Head, London (1924).

Sold for £540 with 27 bids. Seller Comments: 1st edition. Looks like replacement front and rear endpaper, done a while ago I think. Front and rear hinge cracked. Cloth stained and grubby. Wear to spine and corners which are bumped. Some bumping to edges also a little wear. Small piece missing from bottom edge of title paper. Some staining to front endpapers and following bottom edges. About a good reading copy.

CC Comments: A fairly tatty copy of an increasing hard book to find in original cloth. Fairly priced. As we’ve said, buy the best you can and for the original Bodley Heads prices escalate rapidly based on condition so this presents an affordable way to round out a collection.


The Secret of Chimneys, Bodley Head, London (1925).

Sold for £785 with 20 bids. Seller Comments: First Edition. Page edges dusty and slightly foxed. Cloth a little grubby, also rubbed. Corners rubbed. Some foxing to the endpapers. Quite good.

CC Comments: Of better overall appearance than the book above and thus the higher price. The lack of uniform design by Bodley Head on these early books is unique. Well bought.


Cards on the Table, Dodd,Mead and Company, New York (1937).

Sold as a Buy-it-now for $275. Seller Comments: First US edition in dust jacket. Thick orange cloth book with black lettering and dice illustrations is in nearly fine condition. Book square, hinges tight. one very tiny corner bump, top right corner, no writing in the book. A couple small brown spots on the front free endpaper. The dust jacket, with a $2.00 price, is in very good or better condition. There is some chipping and edgewear and rubbing. There are no repairs to the dust jacket. Flaps firmly attached.

CC Comments: Listed at a below market price the seller could have realized significantly more with an auction. These US firsts from the 1930s are getting exceptionally hard to fine in this condition making this a steal.


Evil Under the Sun, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1941).

Sold for £1,500 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First UK edition, first impression. Supplied in original and complete dust jacket with '7s. 6d. net' on inside flap. Very good. Binding tight, secure and square. A touch of bumping and fading to spine ends, covers otherwise very well-preserved. Interior immaculate and without previous ownership markings. A touch of edge wear to the dust jacket, particularly at the spine ends. Scarce thus.

CC Comments: Edge wear is quite an understatement - there is legitimate spine loss! For many collectors of Christie’s UK firsts, the mid-1940s onwards are much more affordable, but these early 1940s books are on the cusp of too pricey yet temptingly affordable for many. This title, with some of the last of the artistic jackets, will certainly remain a blue chip collectible. Well bought.


The Clocks, Collins, The Crime Club, London, UK (1963).

Sold for £286 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: In the publisher's original full cloth binding with an unclipped dust wrapper. Externally very smart, with just a touch of wear to the head of the spine. Dust wrapper has some loss to the tail of the spine. Ownership inscription to the front endpaper. Internally, firmly bound. Pages are bright and clean.

CC Comments: One of the hardest Collins firsts to obtain from the 1960s if you want a complete jacket. For some reason, this jacket tore easily and is often missing substantial chips from the spine. While this one wasn’t perfect and still had some spine, it was more complete than most.



Four Mary Westmacott Books:


Giants’ Bread, Doubleday, New York, USA (1930).

Sold for £410 with 9 bids. Seller Comments: Frist US. Bookplate on the front pastedown and front endpaper. Page edges dusty, bottom of the text block rubbed, ink stamp on the top of the text block. The dust jacket is rubbed and edge worn. Grubby slightly. A little loss top and bottom of the spine. Red on spine faded a little.

CC Comments: Perhaps a record price for this book. At Heritage Auction in the US in 2019, a very good copy sold for $282. Given our recent article on collecting these, maybe there’s been an uptick in demand to round out Christie collections to include the Westmacott books.


Unfinished Portrait, Doubleday, New York, USA (1934).

Sold for £460 with 13 bids. Seller Comments: First US. Top of text block faded. Small bookshop stamp bottom corner of front pastedown. Near vg. The dust jacket has fading to the spine. Also browning. Some edge wear. Priced at $2.00 on the front flap.

CC Comments: This book has the same cover art as the first UK edition. The price realized was also a potential record. Usually these would sell for £200 or so. I think the market is finally waking up to the relative affordability on these books given they are 1930s jacket books arguably in far smaller print runs from Christie-penned titles.


Absent in the Spring, Collins, London, UK (1944).

Sold for £209 with 4 bids. Seller Comments: Grubby mark to a couple of pages. Page edges dusty. Near vg in near vg dust jacket with a darkened spine slightly wrinkled. Priced at 7s 6d net on front flap.

CC Comments: Very well bought selling well below market. In April 2021, a similar quality copy sold for over $800 US at auction.


The Rose and the Yew Tree, Heinemann, London, UK (1948).

Sold for £288 with 9 bids. Seller Comments: First edition. Page edges slightly foxed and dusty. Near vg in near vg dust jacket. Priced at 8s 6d net on front flap.

CC Comments: Correct pricing here and a lovely book that is increasingly scarce.


For our complete article on collecting Mary Westmacott books, click here.


Other Books: Reprints and Later Editions:


The Seven Dials Mystery, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, USA (1929).

Sold for £107 with 12 bids. Seller Comments: Reprint edition, pages browned a little. Slightly dusty. Near vg. The dust-jacket is a little grubby but otherwise near vg.

CC Comments: One of our favourite dust jackets ever placed on a Christie book. While this reprint jacket has the same cover panel as the original Dodd Mead jacket, it lacks the wrap around components of the image. That said, these early Grosset reprints offer tremendous value to collectors as an affordable way to buy lovely books.


The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, Bantam Books, New York, USA (1988).

Sold for $140 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Edition: February 1998, Black Leatherette Hardcover.

CC Comments: Arguably one of the rarest of the Bantam leatherette books, published by the later printer Literary Express. This book surprisingly had the same ISBN number as Evil Under the Sun. The price here was potentially below market and has been seen to sell for significantly more. For Bantam collectors, this is the one they seek to complete their collection.


Other Collectibles:


Murder Most Foul, original quad poster, UK (1964).

Sold for £88 with 4 bids. Seller Comments: Minor paper loss to top left corner, some corner damage through drawing pin insertion to other corners but folds good and in overall good condition and tape free.

CC Comments: There continues to be a market for film posters though most sell at decorative art prices when not pristine. For a Margaret Rutherford fan this will look good on the wall.


Typed Letter Signed, 9th February 1973.

Sold for $829 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: This letter was sent to my mother, who was a huge fan and read her books over and over again. She collected many of Agatha Christie's books during her life. She was one of her favorite authors.

CC Comments: Consistent with other letters from this period, Christie signed over a penciled ‘C’ implying the letter was typed by her secretary (likely off a Dictaphone recording). Combined with the postmark and return address, this would grade an ‘A’ on our scale. With insights as to the plot line of The Pale Horse, and some comments about a future Tommy and Tuppence book, this is a desirable letter to own.

For our article on Christie signatures and are grading system, click here.


Oddity of the Month:


Custom Figurine of Hercule Poirot, 12 inches, 1/6th size, USA (2022 thus).

Sold for $99.99 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: While this figure does not look exactly like any of the actors that played Hercule Poirot, there is a nice resemblance to the character. sold as is.

CC Comments: I know I’ve got a box of old Action Man toys from my youth somewhere… now I know what to do with them!



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!


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