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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

AUCTION: Part II: Charlie Watts' Agatha Christie Collection

This is the second instalment in our review of the upcoming auction of Charlie Watts' Agatha Christie collection. The auction is being held at Christie’s Auctions in London, UK. Part I is a live auction being held on 28 September, 2023. For our review of this live auction please click here. There is also a separate article where I ask Mark Wiltshire, Christie's specialist handling the sale questions about the collection (link).


The second auction - Part II - will be an online sale open for bidding from 15 to 29 September, 2023. In addition to a large collection of Christie books, the auctions offer 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).


In Part II, many of these books are inscribed by Agatha Christie to her secretary, Charlotte Fisher (see our Part I review for more details on her). Between the two auctions, this looks to be the entire collection of Ms. Fisher! It appears now that Mr. Watts must have bought them all. Many of these books have been married to jackets that were sourced from other firsts. Even though Part II is online, there are still unique books that would generally garner a live auction but given the volume of books being sold time constraints clearly were considered. Across these lots, there are some scarce 1930s jackets and a few uncommon items including plays. Together, Part I and Part II offer collectors over 80 Christie items, many of which have not been seen in recent memory, if ever, at auction. These are books most collectors can only dream of owning and there will be some strong money realised on many of these lots.


Part II of Charlie Watts' Christie Collection:

Note: At the time of writing, lot numbers and auction house estimates are not known. Please refer to the online catalogue once available (link). Pictures of all items have not been included but all will be available online including full images of signatures, books and jackets.

'The Mousetrap' Collection:

A collection of signed and commemorative works, including two inscribed playscripts:

The Mousetrap. A Play in Two Acts. London: Samuel French Limited, 1954 [1958]. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author to the General Manager of the Ambassador’s Theatre, Verity Hudson: 'For Verity that Tower of Strength with affection & gratitude on the Mousetrap’s 6th Birthday from Agatha.' Original blue cloth presentation binding, upper cover titled and dated '25 November 1958' .


The Mousetrap. A Play in Two Acts. London: Samuel French Limited, 1954. A fine association copy, inscribed by Richard Attenborough (cast actor) to Verity Hudson: 'With my love & very good wishes always Verity dear Dickie August 1954.' Original dark blue cloth presentation binding, upper cover titled in gilt and with 'VERITY'.


Plus, a commemorative silk playbill for The Mousetrap. This printed red silk playbill with tassel edges was specially produced to mark the 2,239th performance of The Mousetrap on 12 April 1958, and two commemorative souvenir books from '25 Years' and '30 Years'.


CC Comments: Playscripts are broadly undercollected partly because there had been so much confusion as to first state printings. Articles on my website provide all the points for collectors looking to build a collection of plays. For those who enjoy this field, including memorabilia, I hope you can make my event on 15th Sep '23 at the Intenational Agatha Christie Festival as it focuses on this world of Christie on stage.


Unsigned Books:

The Secret Adversary. London: John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd., 1922. First edition of Christie's second book. Original decorated green cloth, no dust-jacket, spine a little faded, extremities faintly rubbed with a couple of tiny nicks, some small stains.


Poirot Investigates. London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1924. First edition, an excellent bright copy in the original cloth. Publisher’s orange cloth, decorative border and title to upper cover and spine in black, top edge blue, others untrimmed. No dust-jacket, spine very slightly darkened, spine ends very slightly bumped.

CC Comments: Compared to most copies of this title that appear for sale, the cloth here is far above average.

[Film tie-in] The Passing of Mr. Quinn. G. Roy McRae. The London Book Co., Ltd. by Wm. Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., [1929]. First edition in the original dust-jacket. Small format in original dark red cloth, repair to upper hinge. Jacket slightly chipped and upper flap and panel with clean tear neatly repaired with tape on the reverse.

The Hound of Death and other stories. The Crime Club by Collins, [n.d], London. Collins' Third Impression, green cloth, in a dust-jacket has the same design on the front as the Odhams jacket, priced '4/- net' on the front flap.

CC Comments: The 3rd Collins printing was in January 1939. The first printing was by Odhams in 1933. But when Collins obtaining the rights to publish the title they first did so in February 1935, in orange cloth, and with an identical copyright page to the Odhams printing with one exception - instead of reading 'Copyright 1933' in the middle of the page it now just reads 'Copyright'. The jacket was priced 3/6 on the spine. The 2nd Collins printing was in February 1936 now in black cloth, though red variants are known. These do state 'copyright 1936' at the foot of the copyright page. The 3rd printing by Collins was January 1939 and was in green cloth. The foot of cloth spine just states Collins in a thinner font / typeset than was used on the 4th (March 1939) 'Uniform' edition. While I haven't seen a jacket before for the 3rd printing, Collins moved to pricing books on the flaps in 1936 and onwards and reprints were now generally priced at 4/- while first printings were 7/6. Thus, this appears to be the correct jacket for this 3rd printing.



Inscribed First Editions: Various Recipients:


Five Little Pigs. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1942. First UK edition in the original dust-jacket. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author 'To Geoff & Violet from Agatha.' The recipients were Christie’s friends Geoffrey and Violet Shipston, dedicatees of Three Act Tragedy (1935).


The Moving Finger. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1943. First UK edition. Inscribed by the author to her daughter: 'Rosalind from Agatha Christie'. In a married, price clipped dust-jacket. Last sold by Bearne’s, Exeter, in the ‘The Greenway Sale’, 12 September 2006.

CC Comments: One hopes Rosalind had multiple copies, but even so, one wonders why she ever sold books given to her by her mother. You would have though these would have stayed in the family.


Death Comes as the End. London: for The Crime Club, 1945. First UK edition in the original jacket. Inscribed by Christie to Francis (Larry) Sullivan: 'Larry from Agatha, March 1945 in a time of much preoccupation with the Nile & a Hidden Horizon.' Sullivan was an actor and close friend of Agatha Christie and her husband who had been in the London cast of Agatha Christie’s stage play Hidden Horizon / Murder on the Nile. Sullivan had also performed in many other Christie plays and she dedicated her novel The Hollow (1946) to the Sullivans whose house inspired the setting.


After the Funeral. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1953. First UK edition in the original jacket. Inscribed 'For merry Coronation reading Stephen from Agatha'. While not certain, the dedicatee was probably Stephen Glanville, an Egyptologist who had been friends with Max Mallowan since 1925 and to whom Agatha dedicated Five Little Pigs and Death Comes as the End. Jacket strengthened on the reverse with tape.


Poirot’s Early Cases. London: Collins, 1974. First edition, in the original dust-jacket. Inscribed on the title to her housekeeper: 'To Mrs Belson from Agatha Christie. Oct. 28th 1974'. Elizabeth Belson, known as Lily, was Agatha Christie’s housekeeper and companion at Winterbrook for over two decades from 1953 until Dame Agatha’s death in January 1976. During her employment Mrs Belson was presented with a signed first edition of each of Christie’s new novels, and was also left a bequest of £2,000 by Christie in her will, which was the largest gift to a non-family member. Dust-jacket spine ends and ends of folds chipped with some minor restoration.


Inscribed First Editions: Charlotte Fisher (Jacketed):

Murder in Mesopotamia. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1936. From the collection of Charlotte Fisher, inscribed ‘with love from Agatha’. First edition in a married dust-jacket.

CC Comments: These Crime Club jackets from the 1930s are now very scarce in complete condition. This is one of four jackets designed by her friend 'Mac' Macartney who accompanied her and Max on archeological expeditions.


One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1940. From the collection of Charlotte Fisher, inscribed 'With love from Missus'. Fisher called her employer Agatha Christie 'Missus', which became a term of endearment. First edition in a married dust jacket.


N or M?. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1941. Inscribed 'Carlo with love from Agatha'. First edition in a married, price clipped dust-jacket.


The Body in the Library. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1942. Inscribed 'To dear Carlo from Agatha.' First edition in a married, price-clipped dust-jacket.


Towards Zero. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1944. Inscribed 'Carlo with love from Agatha'. First edition in a married dust jacket.


Sparkling Cyanide. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1945. Inscribed 'Carlo from Agatha'. First edition in a married, price-clipped dust jacket.

The Hollow. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1946. Inscribed 'Carlo from Agatha (Delayed in Transit!)'. First edition in a married dust jacket.


The Labours of Hercules. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1947. Inscribed 'Carlo from Agatha 1947.' First edition in a married dust jacket.


Taken at the Flood. London: for The Crime Club, 1948. Inscribed 'Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1948'. First edition in a married dust jacket.


Crooked House. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1949. Inscribed 'Carlo from Agatha May 19[5]9'. First edition in a married dust jacket with its head of spine with tape residue on the reverse.


A Murder is Announced. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1950. Inscribed: 'Carlo with love from Agatha June 1950'. First edition in a married dust jacket with some flaws.

They came to Baghdad. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1951. Inscribed: 'Carlo with love from Agatha'. First edition in a married dust jacket.

CC Comment: Image above gives an example of a typical signature/inscripted to Carlo.

They Do It With Mirrors. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1952. Inscribed: 'Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1952'. First edition in a married dust jacket.


A Pocket Full of Rye. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1953. Inscribed: 'For Carlo with love from Agatha'. First edition in a married dust jacket.


Destination Unknown. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1954. Inscribed: 'Carlo from Agatha Oct. 1954'. First edition in a married dust jacket. Note: dated before the official release of the book on the 1st November.


Dead Man’s Folly. London: for The Crime Club, 1956. Inscribed: 'To Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1956'. First edition in a married dust jacket.

4.50 from Paddington. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1957. Inscribed: 'Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1957'. First edition in a married dust jacket with small tape repair to head of spine on the reverse.


Cat among the Pigeons. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1959. Inscribed: 'Carlo from Agatha Oct. 1959'. First edition in a married dust jacket. Note: dated the month prior to the official release (2nd Nov).


Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case. London: Collins, 1975. Signed by Agatha Christie in a frail hand for her Carlo. Note: This book was published in September 1975 was the last one published during Christie’s lifetime. Thus this copy must be one of the last few books signed by Christie before her death on the 12 January 1976. First edition in the original dust-jacket.

CC Comments: Given that all the other 'Carlo' books have married jackets, who knows with this last one. But as a newer book, it would be easy to have a well-paired cover. That said, clearly we have learned that Carlo Fisher didn't care for dust-jackets!



Inscribed (no jacket).

The Sittaford Mystery. London: for The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, 1931. Inscribed: 'with love from Agatha.' Stated from the collection of Ms. Fisher. First UK edition in original orange cloth, spine ends lightly bumped and rubbed, extremities slightly rubbed, edges lightly spotted.

CC Comments: Compared to most copies of this title that appear for sale, the cloth here appears far above average.


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1939 [1938]. Inscribed: 'From Agatha Christie'. Stated from the collection of Ms. Fisher. First edition in original orange cloth, spine discoloured, edges with one or two stains, binding slightly cocked.


The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1960. Inscribed: 'Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1960'. First edition in original red cloth.


Grouped Lots:

Christie's has grouped together a number of books into three large lots. I have not included pictures, but they will all be available online

.


Group One: Set of 12 presentation copies

CC Comments: Rather surprising to find 12 signed books as a single lot (and not all to Carlo!). Most auction houses would have broken these up, but there are a lot of books to sell. I like to call these 'dealer lots' - almost put into the auctions to satisfy deeper pocketed dealers who will buy in bulk and break them up. Expect to see most of these in the retail market promptly after the auction.


The Pale Horse. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1961. First edition in original dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘Carlo from Agatha’.


The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1962. First edition in married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘To Carlo from Agatha Nov. 1. 1962’.


The Clocks. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1963. First edition in a married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha Nov. 1963’.


A Caribbean Mystery. London: for The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1964.

First edition in a married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha’.


Endless Night. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1965. First edition in a married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘Carlo with love with from Agatha Christie’.


Postern of Fate. London: The Crime Club, 1973. First edition in a married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘To Charlotte Fisher (Carlo!) with love from Agatha Christie and Hannibal Oct. 1973’.

CC: Hannibal was the Agatha's and Max's dog whose picture is on the rear of the jacket.


Passenger to Frankfurt. London: The Crime Club, 1970. First edition in a married dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘To Carlo with love from Agatha Christie (Missus!) Sept. 1970’.


Come, Tell Me How You Live. London: Collins, 1946. First edition lacking the dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘Carlo with love from Agatha’.


CC Comments: The four lots below, included in this group, are inscribed to what must be assumed to be fans/collectors. The jackets are original.


Hickory Dickory Dock. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1955. First edition in the original dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘For Peter Hulin – Agatha Christie Oct 1955’.


Ordeal by Innocence. London: for The Crime Club by W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1958.

First edition in the original dust-jacket. Inscribed: ‘For Arthur from Agatha Nov. 1958’.


At Bertram’s Hotel. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1965. First edition in the original dust-jacket. Inscribed to Billy Adair from author on front endpaper.


Nemesis. London: The Crime Club, W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1971. First edition in the original dust- jacket. Inscribed: ‘To Sheran / Agatha Christie’.


Group Two: Set of 7 First Editions

CC Comments: Another dealer lot, but far less valuable that Group One. This is an ecletic lot - the sort of grouping that appeals to me - a bit of everything.


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1939. First edition in original dust-jacket priced 7s. 6d.


Poirot and the Regatta Mystery. London: Vallancey Press Limited, 1943. First edition in the original pictorial stapled card boards.


Third Girl. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1966. First edition, signed by the author, in the original dust-jacket (price-clipped).


The Man in the Brown Suit. London: John Lane The Bodley Head Limited, 1924.

First edition in the original grey-brown cloth, no dust jacket.


The Witness for the Prosecution and other stories. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, [1948]. First edition in original dust- jacket.


Black Coffee. A Play in Three Acts. London: Alfred Ashley and Son, 1934.

First edition, a very good copy of Christie’s first play, in orange card wrappers printed in black, ‘Baker’s Plays’ label to upper cover and ‘Royalty Notice’ label on title verso..


The Under Dog [And:] Blackman’s Wood. London: The Readers Library, [1929].

First edition in original pictorial dust-jacket (second story by Oppenheim).


Group Three: Set of 8 first editions

CC Comments: The least valuable of the grouped lots. This one makes more sense and is really just a 'bargain' lot. It does say something though about Charlie Watts. He was a collector that had some of the rarest Agatha Christie books known, but he also owned unsigned copies of books such as Elephants Can Remember and Sleeping Murder (both in this group). To me it says he collected Christie first and rarity second - because he could.


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

First edition, signed by the author, in a married dust-jacket.


The Hound of Death and Other Stories. London: Odhams Press Limited, 1933.

First edition in a married dust-jacket.


Three Act Tragedy. London: The Crime Club, 1935. First edition, no jacket, but with Carlo Fisher's book label on the pastedown (consistent with her signed copies).


Witness for the Prosecution. A Play in Three Acts. London: Samuel French Limited, 1954.

First edition, pre-publication issue. Original printed wrappers, stating on the upper wrapper: ‘Not Published / This copy is supplied on loan for the use of professional companies and must be returned to’; Provenance: from the library of Christie’s literary agent Edmund Cork (without internal evidence).


Dead Man’s Folly. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1956. First edition in original dust-jacket.


Hallowe’en Party. London: for The Crime Club by Collins, 1969. First edition in the original dust-jacket.


Elephants Can Remember. London: The Crime Club, 1972. First edition in the original dust-jacket.


Sleeping Murder. Miss Marple’s Last Case. London: Collins Crime Club, 1976.

First edition in the original dust-jacket.



Other Auction Related Comments:

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.


If any readers have questions or insights, do let me know at collectchristie@gmail.com . Also, after the auction, I will write a report on prices realised and any surprises - high or low. For the collectors out there, I hope you find something you love and is within your budget.


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3 comentarios


Howard Lakin
Howard Lakin
05 sept 2023

I bought Fisher’s entire inscribed run of Mary Westmacott novels many years ago, each signed by Agatha Christie. For the record, all dust jackets were missing

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vanessa.jacynth
21 ago 2023

It's going to be fascinating, definitely going to visit these. It is still very strange the family sold inscribed family copies, they can't have needed the sales surely? Pity that beneath every jacket is a sun wrecked book from Fisher's otherwise great collection. What did she do with the jackets!? Are they kept in a draw!? Love the 4th Hound of Death jacket, great survival.

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David Morris
David Morris
21 ago 2023
Contestando a

Vanessa, agreed - odd that the family sold some of these books. As to Fisher's jackets... that's the real treasure trove still to be found (if it exists). Sadly many jackets were discarded so they may be long gone.

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