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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

AUCTION REPORT: 25 March 2021: Forum Auctions

The Forum Auction "Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper" which included several Agatha Christie firsts was held on Thursday 25th March 2021 at 1:00pm GMT and the results offered some surprises. For our full preview please click here.

The Results:

Lot 168: The Murder on the Links, The Bodley Head, 1923. Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000. Sold for £3,200 or £4,000 including buyers premium. CC Comments: In our preview, we observed that the price realized at Sotheby’s last month for a similar book was almost double the estimate here, so we expected this to sell above the high estimate, which it did. A fair price, and perhaps even 'well bought'.

Lot 169: Poirot Investigates, The Bodley Head, 1924. Estimate: £1,000 - 1,500. Sold for £1,600 or £2,000 including buyers premium. CC Comments: Our preview comment was that the estimate seemed a little low given the brightness of the cloth and condition. Well the prediction was accurate with this selling just above the high estimate. Fairly bought and a lovely copy.

Lot 170: The Secret of Chimneys, The Bodley Head, 1925. Estimate: £500 – 700. Sold for £800 or £1,000 including buyers premium. CC Comments: In our preview we said the estimate seemed fair - and it sold just above the high estimate. A Fair price for what is becoming harder to find in this condition.

Lot 171: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Collins, 1926. Estimate: £3,000 - 4,000. Sold for £5,500 or £6,875 including buyers premium. CC Comments: This book has floated around for sale for quite a while online - and if memory serves us right the vendor was seeking ~£22,000 so this was certainly a drastic discount from that. In our preview, we observed that the recent Sotheby’s Auction sold a similar quality book (not jacket bits) for £2,772 and so we asked the question what the rear panel and flaps of a dust jacket were worth? Well to this buyer, about £4,000. This is one of the shock sales that resets the benchmark for what a bit of a jacket is worth. Hopefully the buyer knows what they bought and maybe they have an original front panel they can re-assemble it with!

Lot 172: The Mysterious Mr Quin, Collins, 1930. Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000. Sold for £9,000 or £11,250 including buyers premium. CC Comments: There have been two jacketed copies of this book sold at auction during the last few years. The Heritage Auction was more similar in quality and reached $18,750 (or ~£13,000) while the Sotheby’s copy was of a higher quality and reached £20,160 (with b/p). Thus we felt the estimate range seemed fair for this book. Thus I would say well bought.

Lot 173: Lord Edgware Dies, Collins, The Crime Club, 1933. Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000. Sold for £12,900 or £15,000 including buyers premium. CC Comments: In our preview we commented that Sotheby’s sale of this title, also in jacket (with light restoration), reached £27,720 (with b/p). We also pointed out the other difference was the colour of the price - this having the red 7/6 while the Sotheby’s copy had the black 7/6. There is debate as to whether one precedes the other but here at Collecting Christie we have no assurance from the estate or the publisher if there was a precedence or reason for the difference. The price realized here seems low despite the jacket chips and need of some minimal restoration (if desired). Between Lot 172 and 173 it is possible the deep pocketed buyers of Christie books were not as involved in this sale given its smaller range on offer. Definitely well bought.

Lot 174: Hercule Poirot's Christmas [signed], Collins, The Crime Club, 1939. Estimate: £6,000 - 8,000. Sold for £9,500 or £11,875 including buyers premium. CC Comments: In our preview we noted two copies of this book sold at auction in the last few years for ~£2,000 (with b/p). So we questioned what is the Christie signature worth stating that based on other sales the signature with no provenance adds about £500 while with provenance adds almost double. But our sale forecast was entirely wrong predicting a value ~£3,000. Does this set a new price level for signed copies? There have been many signed copies in the market over the last decade that have appeared on the market, including from celebrity estates, that many specialists believe are all forgeries. So signatures are always a questionable proposition but this one did have the aura of authenticity especially with the hand correction to the typeset error. Regardless, we will now be paying much more attention to signed copies that pass the smell test.

Summary: Most books garnered prices that aligned with our expectations. There were a few good buys and a few high side surprises. All affirm the ongoing strength of Christie firsts and confirm they continue to be blue-chip modern fiction collectibles. For our readers who did participate in this auction, please let us know if you were successful. We'd love to hear from you.

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