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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

AUCTION: Part I: Charlie Watts' Agatha Christie Collection

Christie’s Auctions in London, UK is holding a two-part auction comprising an extraordinary library of modern first editions together with landmarks from the world of jazz, collected by renowned musician and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (1941–2021).

The flagship auction, Charlie Watts: Literature and Jazz Part I, will take place live in London on 28 September, with a Part II online sale open for bidding from 15 to 29 September.

In this review I will be looking at the books in Part I – the live auction. Many of these books are inscribed by Agatha Christie to her secretary, Charlotte Fisher (more insights below). Since most of those books did not have the jackets when sold by her estate, they are now mostly married to jackets that were sourced from other firsts. In addition, most jackets either have repairs or are unrestored but with flaws. However, there are a few exceptions.


Across these lots, there are some exceptionally rare jackets – such as The Thirteen Problems – and some wonderful association copies. It will be interesting to see how collectors determine values given the uniqueness of the inscriptions but the married and flawed jackets. Needless to say, these are books most collectors can only dream of owning and there will be some strong money realised on many of these lots.


Part I of Charlie Watts' Christie Collection:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Bodley Head, London, 1921.

First UK edition. Original tan / orange cloth, splitting at joints as often, spine ends and extremities slightly rubbed. Minor spotting to pages. Overall very good-.

CC Comments: Not the true first which is the American printing, but still exceptionally scarce and on every collectors want list.


The Murder on the Links, John Lane the Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1923.

First UK edition. Original orange cloth, spine very slightly skewed, head and foot of spine rubbed, slight wear to lower hinge, minor stains to a few pages. Overall, very good.

CC Comments: A rarer title than The Mysterious Affair at Styles as it potentially had a smaller print run.


The Secret of Chimneys, John Lane the Bodley Head Limited, London, 1925.

First edition & inscribed. Original blue cloth, spine slightly discoloured, minor soiling to covers, some page browning. Overall, very good. Inscribed by the author to ‘Mrs Winckworth in memory of a pleasant two months spent in 25 Gordon Place from Agatha Christie’.

CC Comments: The first presentation copy of this title I’ve seen. Per Christie’s research, Mrs Winckworth’s address in Kensington, London, was probably one of the temporary residences in which the Christies stayed following their return from a 10-month round-the-world promotional tour for the British Empire Exhibition (1924-25). The Christies lived at various addresses in London on their return before settling on a move to Sunningdale in 1924.


Charlette ‘Carlo’ Fisher:

Since many of the following books are inscribed to Charlette Fisher, or Carlo as she became known, a brief insight into her is appropriate. In 1924 Christie sought an employee to be both a governess for her five year-old daughter Rosalind and as a secretary and typist. Charlotte Fisher applied and was hired. Agatha Christie later dedicated two books to Carlo - The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928) and And Then There Were None (published as: Ten Little N's) (1939) – which also named her sister Mary Fisher. Carlo and Mary Fisher stayed friends with Agatha for years and were her official witnesses for her marriage to Max Mallowan in 1930.


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1926.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original blue cloth, chipped at head and foot of spine. The married dust- has some professional repairs and a few tears with minor loss to printed areas that are restored. Inscribed to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Miss Fisher from Agatha Christie May. 1926. In memory of Commas, Colons & full stops!’.

CC Comments: A unique inscription and period correct. Almost all the later inscriptions are ‘To Carlo’ – so the ‘Miss Fisher’ here is quite formal and shows that the friendship has not fully matured. The first presentation copy of this title I’ve seen.

The Mystery of the Blue Train, W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, [1928].

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original blue cloth, though with some fading on the spine and very slight wear. The married original dust-jacket has some expert repairs and restoration to upper half of front panel and top of the spine affecting most of the author’s name and title. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo, with love from Agatha (Poor old Missus)’.

CC Comments: A less rare jacket only because the second printing used the same jacket as the first so there are a few more copies floating around. This was the first of the two books Christie dedicated to Carlo – though also to her dog Peter (later the star of Dumb Witness). Again, the first presentation copy I’ve seen of this title.


Partners in Crime, W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1929.

First edition & inscribed. A very good book in black cloth with minor wear on the top and bottom of the spine. Inscribed by the author to ‘Carlo’ Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha.’ CC Comments: Again, the first presentation copy I’ve seen of this title. Given that Charlie Watts and his sources weren’t able to find him a jacket for this book it helps clarify just how rare it is.

The Murder at the Vicarage, The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., London, 1930.

First edition (2nd state) in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in the orange cloth with ‘The Crime Club’ imprint at foot. The spine is slightly sunned. The married good dust- jacket is worn, with the price sadly cut out from the spine, and with chipping/loss in multiple places, a large repaired tear across upper panel and into spine, and some tape repairs. Inscribed by the author to her daughter: ‘Rosalind from Agatha Christie’. This book was previously sold by Bearne’s, Exeter, at ‘The Greenway Sale’ on 12 September 2006.

CC Comments: This book marked the transition from black cloth with reference only to ‘Collins’ on the foot of the spine to orange cloth and reference to ‘The Crime Club’. The book was printed in both iterations with the black cloth accepted as the first state and the orange cloth as the second state. A lovely family association copy.


The Mysterious Mr. Quin. W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1930.

First edition in jacket. A very good book in original black cloth. The original dust-jacket is in near fine condition, with very slight creasing at head and foot of spine, and a short closed tear and crease to foot of lower panel.

CC Comments: An exceptional jacket given that most of the ones I’ve seen have very faded spines due to the light blue ink used.


Peril at End House, The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., London, 1932.

First UK edition in jacket. A very good book in original orange cloth whose spine ends are very slightly bumped and rubbed. The original dust- jacket has a discoloured spine, slight wear and chipping to edges, some creases, and some minor repairs to the spine and along folds.

CC Comments: A great 1930s jacket that seems to show up more often that others. Some have been seen with remnants of price stickers that covered the 7/6 that leads me to think the same first state jacket was used on the second printing (as with The Mystery of the Blue Train) leading to more supply.

The Thirteen Problems, The Crime Club Ltd. by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1932.

First edition in jacket. A near fine book in orange cloth with a very slight spine slant. The near fine original green pictorial dust-jacket is correctly priced '7/6 net' on the spine. The book also comes with the purple and green pictorial Crime Club wrap-around band that is original as the spine and joints of jacket are slightly faded above the band. Also included is an unused purple-printed and edged green Crime Club membership enrolment postcard.

CC Comments: The complete package and will potentially be the top seller of these Christie books. I have not seen a jacketed copy of this title sold in probably a decade plus and with the extras it will certainly appeal to many deep pocketed collectors.


Lord Edgware Dies, The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1933.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in orange cloth but with the spine sunned and with one corner slightly bumped. The married dust-jacket priced 7/6 on the spine, has a lower panel with extensive repaired tears, head and parts of spine chipped with small loss and some discolouration. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘With love from Agatha.’

CC Comments: While very rare in jacket, there have surprisingly been several copies sold over the last few years though one was priced 7/6 in black ink – generally considered the second state. This one is priced in red ink which is the first state. These things matter at this price range!


Murder on the Orient Express, The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., London, 1934.

First edition and inscribed. A very good book whose pages have light spotting, mostly to the front and end papers. Original orange cloth with the spine slightly sunned. Inscribed by the author to Charlette Fisher: ‘To Carlo with love from Agatha Christie’.

CC Comments: We’ve written how the first edition of this book is of unique scarcity due to the first print run. Given that this is the only inscribed copy of the first edition I’ve seen, I expect it to sell for strong money for a book lacking the wonderful jacket.

The Listerdale Mystery and other stories, Collins, London, 1934.

First edition in jacket. Avery good book in original maroon cloth with silver lettering. The very good original dust-jacket is slightly worn with some minor repaired tears on the panels and a little restoration to ends of folds.

CC Comments: One of two books Collins printed as part of their ‘Mystery’ imprint – not the ‘Crime Club’. The other was Parker Pyne Investigates. Both had the purple or plum cloth. This title is exceptionally rare to find in a jacket as it likely had a smaller print run that other times of the period.

Why Didn’t they Ask Evans?, The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1934.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth with a bit of a spine slant and some sunning. The married dust-jacket, correctly priced 7/6 on the spine, is silked on the reverse and expertly restored, especially the spine, edges and folds. Comes with a ‘Crime Club Book of the Month’ wrap-around, also restored at spine and along folds. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha.’

CC Comments: One of my personal favourite jackets from the 1930s.


Death in the Clouds, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1935.

First UK edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth with minor spotting and browning to the pages. The married dust-jacket is split along folds with some partial tape repairs, as does the front flap. Overall, the jacket is chipped, frayed and creased. It has some loss on the spine and folds. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha.’

CC Comments: The second edition jacket was similar but priced 3/6 on the spine making it impossible to marry a second state jacket. Consequently, any first state jacket is very rare and the few that have come up for sale over the last five years have all had issues.

The ABC Murders, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1936.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in the original orange cloth but with a sunned spine. Some pages are slightly browned and foxed. The very good married dust-jacket has expert restoration at the head and foot of the spine and along top edge and ends of folds. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘With love from Agatha.’

CC Comments: A fine jacketed copy of this book commanded £47,880 at the Sotheby’s auction in 2021, so it will be interesting to see how much of a discount a married, restored jacket experiences.


Cards on the Table, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1936.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth, with a sunned spine. The married dust-jacket has some edge wear and creases, minor chipping and tears and is price clipped. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha Christie.’

CC Comments: Not that long ago this jacket would show up for sale fairly often – but not recently. Now it has become rare – not just scarce.

Dumb Witness, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1937.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book with some light spotting on the rear pages. The original orange cloth has some sunning on the spine and edges of covers. The married dust-jacket is worn with tears and some loss and is price-clipped. The jacket is shorter than the book. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Missus & Peter’.

CC Comments: Agatha Christie was known to Charlotte as ‘Missus’ and Peter was Christie’s wirehaired terrier which she had bought in 1924 who is both pictured on the jacket and a key character as ‘Bob’ in the novel. Of note, when you see a trimmed / shorter jacket it is possible it came from a private label book (such as a W.H. Smith edition) which were often slightly smaller than the general retail editions.


Death on the Nile. London: for the Crime Club by Collins, 1937.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in the original orange cloth, with the spine and edges of covers sunned. The married dust- jacket is chipped with slight loss at spine and fold ends, a tear on the rear panel and some discolouration. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha’.

CC Comments: This jacket does show for sale more often that others from this period though the books enduring appeal typically results in strong demand.

Murder in the Mews and other stories, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1937.

First edition & inscribed. A very good book with minimal spotting to front and end pages. The original orange cloth has a sunned and stained spine with a few other minor flaws. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘To dear Carlo from Agatha Christie’.

CC Comments: The later Odhams edition is much more common, even in its jacket. The Collins printing is exceptionally uncommon because it was a short-story collection, so it had a smaller print run, and the reprint rights were immediately handed to Odhams.


Murder is Easy, The Crime Club by Collins, London. 1939.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth, with some spine sunning and spotting to edges. The original dust-jacket is worn at the head and foot of spine with some loss, along with small loss to ends of folds and to the rear panel. Inscribed by the author in blue ink: ‘From Agatha Christie’.

CC Comments: You could pretend this inscription was to you personally! This jacket used to be quite common – now scarce.

Sad Cypress, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1940.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth with a sunned spine sunned, and some overall staining, spotting and rubbing. The married dust jacket is strengthened on the reverse at head and foot of spine and ends of folds, with a small section at the head of spine restored. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘With love from Agatha’.

CC Comments: One of the few dust jackets that Christie herself did the preliminary design for.


Evil Under the Sun, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1941.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A very good book in original orange cloth, with a sunned spine. The married dust-jacket has an inch long closed tear on the front panel, is chipped with a little loss on the spine and folds, and is slightly discoloured. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte Fisher: ‘Carlo from Agatha’.

CC Comments: One of the last thick books and now becoming scarce to find in a jacket. One almost feels Agatha was getting tired of inscribing books to Carlo by now given the lack of any flourishing comments.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs, The Crime Club by Collins, London, 1968.

First edition in jacket & inscribed. A near fine book in the original green cloth with only minor flaws. The original dust-jacket, has a spine that is slightly sunned and a little chipped. Inscribed by the author: ‘To P.G. Wodehouse with reverence, admiration and many long years of deeply enjoyed reading – no one like you! Agatha Christie.’

CC Comments: Christie and P. G. Wodehouse had a great respect for each other. She even dedicated her next novel, Hallowe’en Party (1969), to him. On a personal note, Plum (as he was known to friends) was a close friend of our family years ago and often stayed with my great aunts at their house on the island of Jersey… so perhaps I may seek to add this one to my own collection!

The Floating Admiral, Hodder and Stoughton, London [1931].

First edition in jacket. A very good book in its original blue cloth, with spine ends and corners very slightly bumped. The original dust jacket is chipped at the head of the spine and reinforced with tape on the reverse and at ends of folds.

CC Comments: Written by members of The Detection Club, whose contributing authors included Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley and Dorothy Sayers.


Part II & Other Auction Related Comments:

At the time of writing, lot numbers and estimated prices from Christie’s were not known. A Buyer’s Premium will be added to the hammer price. See the auction website for full details and further pictures once the auction catalogue is released. The auction house has advised me they will include complete pictures of the books, jackets and inscriptions online at that time.


A second article will be written about Part II shortly which includes many wonderful early books also. It will also include a Q&A with the specialist at Christie's handling the sale.


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