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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

2023 4th Quarter: eBay Agatha Christie Collectibles.

In 2023, I changed the frequency of my eBay review to quarterly to better manage my time and limit what is profiled. I will focus mostly on items of unique interest or that help understand where the market is for books and certain collectibles. I’ll avoid most signed items unless there is clear provenance as eBay has been rife with questionable signatures over the years and continues to be. Anyone considering buying a signed item may want to consider reading my article ‘Fake or Fortune’ as a starting point (link).


For every item we have profiled 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 = $1.25 US = $1.80 AUS Verification of products or descriptions are not done by Collecting Christie but are taken at face value. Each item cited below begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.


First Editions:


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

Sold for £800 at auction with 1 bid. Seller Comments: Good plus, no dust jacket, hardcover book bound in original grey-brown cloth lettered and decorated in dark brown (in the same pattern used for Poirot Investigates), cloth rubbed & lightly soiled, pinched at spine tips with a little wear at spine tail where there are minor splits, a little faded at spine, hinges & binding sound, no inscriptions, toning to endpapers, main text clean & bright, touches of light foxing, discreet original Paris bookseller sticker on rear pastedown.

CC Comments: These early Bodley Head books are essentially unobtainable and unaffordable in a jacket, so for completists an unjacketed copy is needed. However, the cloth on these books is often worn heavily, or thin on the hinges. When one considers this is now 100 years old, it is at least a solid survivor. A fair price.


The Under Dog (and Blackman’s Wood), Readers Library, London, UK (1929).

Sold for £107.55 at auction with 3 bids. Seller Comments: Both book and dust wrapper in very good condition. First edition of these short stories. Some spotting to rear of dust jacket but doesn’t affect overall appearance.

CC Comments: This small format book is a fun collectible as it is unique to this publisher. However, it is surprisingly common in a jacket compared to other UK firsts from the late 1920s. However, usually the sale price will be a little higher than this, so well bought.


The Thirteen Problems, The Crime Club, Collins, London, UK (1932).

Sold for $799.99 with 1 bid. Seller Comments: First U.K. orange cloth boards with black lettering to spine & front board. Very difficult book to find in in original boards and endpapers. Book has no former owner or bookstore stamps, clean endpapers, slight foxing to a few pages, no wear to board edges or to board corners, just a hint of wear to spine tips, slight dust/handling soiling to cloth boards, slight spine sun darkening. Facsimile jacket.

CC Comments: Published in June 1932, these Miss Marple short stories were previously published in various magazines. It sold for about 1% of the price of the jacketed copy from the Charlie Watts auction - which shows how valuable the jacket is for this book (plus the attribution/provenance added value too). The cloth could have been nicer on the spine which always raises the question do I take what's on offer or wait for something better. However, it is still fairly uncommon to see this title on eBay and it's a book that likely had a smaller print run than other Christie's of this period, so someone was happy to add this to their collection.


The Tuesday Club Murders, Dodd Mead & Co, New York, US (1933).

Sold for $399.99 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: First edition, first printing. Clean pages. Small stain to the dye on the top page edge, as shown in the picture. Some fraying to the cloth at the spine, as shown in the pictures. Previous owner name. Page 169 has a large tear, which has been repaired to prevent further tearing. Presented in a facsimile of the first edition jacket.

CC Comments: The US version of The Thirteen Problems. Also exceptionally difficult to find in an original jacket (which would likely sell for near $10,000 now) and even the unjacketed books are often soiled or damaged. It also appears to have had a much smaller print run that other Christie Dodd Mead books from the early 1930s, so this was a quality copy of this scarce title and thus a good acquisition.


The Hound of Death and Other Stories, Odhams, London, UK (1933).

Sold for £495 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Original burgundy cloth binding presenting well with straight corners and minimal marking. There is light bumping to the head and tail of the spine, with a very small portion missing at the bottom (a daring mouse if you ask me!). The spine does show light discolouration and a small, sunned spot at its tail. All flaws consistent with the small losses on the dust wrapper. The dust wrapper is present in lovely condition and shows minimal signs of foxing and grubbiness. Mild chipping to top and bottom edges, very light discolouration to spine, and minimal loss to tail of spine.

CC Comments: A fairly strong price for this book, but the jacket was nicer than most that show for sale. While I’m not a fan of marrying books to jackets, a better book can likely quickly be found at a very good price as they are quite ubiquitous. The comment about the mouse is rather humourous.


[Rebound] Death on the Nile, Collins Crime Club, London, UK (1937).

Sold for $272 at auction with 25 bids. Seller Comments: Rebound Leather; 284 Pages +4 of Ads; w5.1"xh7.5"; Rare! Charming marble cover design with beige leather binding/corners, blind stamped borders to leather, ornate gold floral binding with red labels; Rare in Leather!

CC Comments: Rare in leather because most people don’t rebind these books unless they must. Original cloth will always be more valuable, but rebinding does save the book’s life from ending. This was one of a rather odd collection of matching rebound books since many of them were second or third impressions. En masse, they offer some shelf appeal, but rebound books are not as valuable as collectibles and less likely to appreciate meaningfully in value. If you are considering a first in good only cloth or a rebound one, my bias is to take the one with original cloth. But there still is a market for nicely rebound books.


Reprints:


[French] L’Homme au Complet Marron, Le Masque, Paris, France (1930).

Sold for a negotiated price. Listed at €850. Seller Comments: Rare old book, tears, stains. CC Comments: Generally, I assume negotiated prices were at least 75% of the asked price, so I expect this sold for at least €640. As I’ve noted before, I really like these early French printings as I find the jacket art highly appealing. If you are interested in learning more about these French Le Masque books and seeing images of all the covers, go to my detailed article on them (link).


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Collins, London, UK (1934).

Sold for £120 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: The 7 pence edition, a rare survivor retaining its original un-faded dust jacket. Very good dust jacket, small closed tears and chipping. Book covers and spine in good condition. Text clean, signature on the front paste down, which is covered by the front flap of the dust jacket. A very good copy.

CC Comments: Given how rare and unaffordable true firsts in jacket of this book are, the early reprints are becoming collectable in their own right. The small format 1/- reprint did use the original cover art image, while this 7p version has a different design.


Murder on the Orient Express, Collins, London, UK (1959).

Sold for $380 as a Buy it Now. Seller Comments: Scarce early edition by the publisher of the first UK edition, even more scarce with dust jacket preserved.

CC Comments: Wow! Likely a record price for this book. Rarely will you see reprints from the late 1950s command this price. I assume the buyer was a collector of this title and really wanted this jacket. If you are interested in collecting this title specifically, I wrote a detailed article about all the versions and values (link).


Ten Little Indians, Dodd Mead & Co, New York, US (1967).

Sold for $199 as a Buy it Now. Seller Comments: First Printing, Greenway Edition, Ex library, Book and jacket have wear.

CC Comments: Another Wow! One of the articles I’ve been working on for a while is about these Greenway edition books – published both by Collins (UK) and Dodd Mead (US) in similar jackets. While they offer shelf appeal as a collection they don't really have long-term value. This was a fairly tatty ex-library book too so this sale price caught my eye as surprising. If there are collectors of these Greenway books reading this, perhaps you could provide some insight as to why this sold for so much.


Other Items:


Set of 60 paperbacks, Fontana, London, UK (various dates).

Sold for £135 at auction with 47 bids. Seller Comments: This bundle of 60 Agatha Christie books is a must-have for any crime and thriller enthusiast. Featuring books from the Poirot series, Miss Marple, and other murder mysteries, this collection includes both paperback and first edition books. The books are in great shape for their age and are perfect for set design, set dressing, props, or to add to your instant library.

CC Comments: At basically £2 per book and with the wonderful Tom Adams covers on most, this was a great way to instantly build a paperback library or Adams collection. Very well bought.


[Magazine] Triangle at Rhodes, The Strand Magazine, London, UK (May 1936).

Sold for $200 as a Buy it Now. Seller Comments: Collected here is the first appearance of this Christie story which was later collected in 1937 in the collection Murder in the Mews. The last page of advertising is loose. Light edge wear. Slight spine slant. In very good condition.


[Magazine] The Lernean Hydra, The Strand Magazine, London, UK (December 1939).

Sold for £75 as a Buy it Now. Seller Comments: First Appearance in print of this Christie story which was later collected into "The Labours Of Hercules". Features many illustrations that were absent from the book. An acceptable good copy. Spine has creases, furls and splits but is complete. Covers have some wear and creases. Interior generally clean. Binding firm.

CC Comments: As the above two lots show, pricing can vary a lot when items are listed as a Buy it Now. Condition also will have a big impact on pricing, but these two lots confirm there continues to be a market for magazine collectors of Christie short-stories (and serialised novels). I am not a magazine collector of note - there are other out there who have much more robust collections in this space - so I always appreciate when sellers show images of the actual story and its associated art.


[Theatre] The Mousetrap, Ambassador Theatre Posters – 3 different auctions: 1967, 1969, 1972.

Sold for £25 with 15 bids, £20 with 12 bids and £26 with 14 bids, respectively.

Seller Comments (same for each listing): The 12.5” by 20” (31.5cm by 50.5cm) poster has been folded in two directions is in superb condition with only the most minor signs of wear. CC Comments: In my opinion, Christie theatre memorabilia is one of the last truly affordable areas for Christie fans. Very well bought as some may have missed that these were posters and assumed they were programmes. I have no doubt they’ll look great displayed framed.


[Film] Murder Ahoy, Film Poster, (1964).

Sold for £114.99 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Original Movie Poster. Poster has been folded, a couple of minor tears but still looks great in a frame. Size 27" x 41".

CC Comments: When you compare the price for this poster compared to The Mousetrap posters I think it affirms the value of the former. The Mousetrap only had one venue while Murder Ahoy posters were distributed widely. That said, this was still a good find, with its bright colours and larger format. In addition, I've not noticed before the numbers on the bottom right corner that imply only 350 of these posters were made. I'll have to start watching for that as the edition size would impact value.


[Signature] Agatha Christie Signature, cut from letter [n.d.].

Sold for £411 at auction with 40 bids. Seller Comments: Original signature cut from letter.

CC Comments: A Christie signature that appeared authentic basically confirms that the going price for a signature only is around this price given the 40 bids. Thus, signed items that offer more than just a signature should sell for meaningfully more than this.


[Pen] Montblanc Meisterstuck A. Christie Writers Edn fountain pen, Switzerland (1993).

Sold for $2,000 at auction with 35 bids. Seller Comments: Limited Edition - Model 28614. Released in 1993. Limited edition of 4810 pieces worldwide. Number 1224/4810. Black resin pen barrel and cap with gold-coated trim and gold-coated snake clip with sapphire eyes. 18k gold nib with snake detail. Original box; Preowned, in unused condition. Pen has never been inked.

CC Comments: My December 2022 price guide (link) for this pen valued it at £2,500 UK / $3,000 US in this condition and with all the paperwork/boxes. Since this received 35 bids, it’s fair to say the price may have softened a little. I’ll wait for a few more auctions before confirming – otherwise this was well bought as this iteration is the most desirable of the Christie pens from the Writer’s Series.


[Art Prints] Set of three prints by WBYK, Black Dragon Press/Mondo, UK/US (2002).

Sold for £150 as a Buy-it-Now. Seller Comments: Matching numbered set of three prints: Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express. Each print: We Buy Your Kids (WBYK) Screen print, 18 x 24 inches, 300gsm Gmund Bauhaus, Hand-numbered limited edition of 200, Gallery stamp on reverse, Printed by White Duck Editions, Black Dragon Press and Mondo, Excellent condition. Stored flat in an acid-free portfolio sleeve since original purchase from gallery. Never displayed. These prints will be shipped with tissue and kraft paper in a sturdy poster tube.

CC Comments: I like these prints and wrote a detailed article about them (link). Given how the listing displayed it appeared like only one print was being sold – not the whole set – but since the Seller used a fixed price listing, this was acquired well below market.


Summary:

There’s always something for everyone buried in the depths of eBay. For collectors, be certain to hunt across the various global sites, as an item listed in the US that does not state it will ship internationally will not show on the UK site. By searching on the national sites, if you find something you like most sellers will modify the shipping if you express a willingness to buy the item and pay appropriately for the time and hassle of doing an international shipment.


Some items for sale are very valuable and command high prices so do your due diligence when buying on eBay and seek clarity from sellers on anything unclear or unsaid. You can even write to me at collectchristie@gmail.com and I’ll try to give feedback as quickly as I can. Collecting Christie items should be fun and rewarding so make sure you are paying the right price for the right item.


If you see something that sold on eBay and are curious about it, email me the link to the item. It may be of interest to readers of this blog.


Happy hunting!


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1 Comment


dmurrills
Jan 11

As I expected you assumed, that was my personal copy of 13 Problems (since I bought an unjacketed but signed copy from the Watts collection). It did sell on the first time I listed it... David.

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