AUCTION PREVIEW: A selection of Christie 1st editions (1-Dec-22).
Pacific Book Auction Galleries in the San Francisco bay area of California is holding a ‘Fine Literature’ auction on the 1st December 2022 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. It features 5 lots of Agatha Christie collectibles - mostly first edition books - but a total of 32 books as several of the lots are groupings of books. The buyer's premium is 25%. A link to the auction page is at the bottom of this article along with other resources to help bidders. Below we provide details on each lot as well as our opinion and estimate as to fair value.
The Live Auction Lots:
Lot 63: Group of eight Agatha Christie mysteries.
8 volumes. Cloth, original dustjackets. First Editions unless otherwise noted. Comprising:
Easy to Kill. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1939. First U.S. Edition.
Towards Zero. London: Collins Crime Club, 1944. First U.K. Edition.
Ten Little Niggers. London: Collins Crime Club, 1939.
Death Comes as the End. London: Collins Crime Club, 1945. First U.K. Edition.
Sparkling Cyanide. London: Collins Crime Club, 1945. First U.K. Edition.
Crooked House. London: Collins Crime Club, 1949. First U.K. Edition.
They Came to Baghdad. London: Collins Crime Club, 1951.
Destination Unknown. London: Collins Crime Club, 1954.
Condition: Jackets worn; some volumes with ownership marks; overall good to very good.
CC Comments: While the original estimate was $300 - $500, the current absentee bid as of 19-Nov was $550. For a collector, the most valuable book here is the Collins printing of Ten Little Niggers. Even with its damaged jacket, this should garner at least $3,000 - $4,000. Easy to Kill (US) and Towards Zero (UK) are each worth $500, while Sparkling Cyanide (UK) is worth $300, and the others collectively $200. Given the buyer's premium of 25%, the fair value for this lot is likely in the $3,500 - $4,000 range.
Lot 64: The Mysterious Affair at Styles - True First.
Published by John Lane, the Bodley Head, New York, USA (1920) .Original cream cloth boards with green titles and decorations to spine and front board. First Edition of the author's rare first book. The novel was first published in book form in the United States in October, 1920; it was not published in England until February of the following year. Introducing detective Hercule Poirot who would appear in numerous books to follow. Seldom seen in nice condition due to the poor quality of book construction. Condition: Volume leaning a bit with rubbing to edges, foxing to cloth, spine cloth with wormholing and a closed tear, fraying to spine ends; rear hinge cracked, front starting, ownership stamp on front pastedown with offsetting to free endpaper; good or better.
CC Comments: While her true first, followed by the Canadian printing, before being published in the UK the following year, this book generally sells for less than the UK printing. This particular copy 's cloth is one of the worst we've seen. It's at the point where rebinding may make sense to preserve whats left, but the value is generally in the original cloth and boards. A tough choice for its next owner. With its estimate of $2,000 - $3,000 plus buyer's premium, it may struggle to reach the top end of that price range. These do show up for sale periodically and a much better condition copy can likely be found for ~$4,000 - $5,000 if you are patient. Given the 25% buyer's premium, a fair bid for this book is likely at the low range of the estimate.
Lot 65: Partners in Crime (USA) - signed (?).
Published by Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, USA (1929). Blue cloth lettered in red, pictorial dust jacket. First Edition. Signed and inscribed by Agatha Christie on the title page: " Happy reading - yours in mystery - Agatha Christie." Very Scarce in original jacket - rarely found signed or inscribed. Condition: Some general wear and soiling to jacket, with small chips and creasing to edges, piece lacking at head of spine; soiling to cloth with mild rubbing to extremities; stain to top corner of 1st 50 pages; very good.
CC Comments: The signature and inscription in this book are very questionable and would rate a "C" grade per our rating system (link at bottom of page). There are numerous attributes that raise questions. These include the "g" in Agatha which is not consistent with her usual signature, nor is the "r" in Christie, nor is the slash line. There are many other concerns about this inscriptions and signature so any bidder should do their own due diligence and reach an informed decision as to authenticity or lack thereof, and thus value. The jacket appears to have some very odd repair work on the spine. Of note, the specific printing dates of the US and UK firsts for this title are unknown, but the general consensus is the US printing was the first, though exact print dates are unknown. With an estimate of $1,500 - $2,500, it is likely the auction house also knows there are questions to be asked - something we've notified them of. For the book alone and a flawed jacket, fair value is likely $1,250 plus buyer's premium.
Lot 66: A collection of 16 Poirot Mysteries.
A collection of 16 books, some in original dust jackets, some in facsimile jackets. Mostly First Editions unless otherwise noted. Comprising:
The Murder on the Links. London: John Lane, 1923. Second Edition.
Poirot Investigates. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1925. First U.S. Edition.
The Big Four. London: Collins, 1927.
Murder on the Orient Express. London: Collins Crime Club, 1934. Second Impression.
Death in the Clouds. London: Collins Crime Club, 1935. Facsimile jacket.
ABC Murders. London: Collins Crime Club, 1936. Review copy. Facsimile jacket.
Cards on the Table. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1936. First U.S. Edition. Original jacket.
Poirot Loses a Client. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1937. First U.S. Edition. Original jacket.
Appointment with Death. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938. First U.S. Edition. Original jacket.
Five Little Pigs. London: Collins Crime Club, 1942. First U.K. Edition. Original jacket.
The Hollow. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1946. Original jacket.
The Hollow, Collins Crime Club, 1946. First U.K. Edition. Original jacket.
The Labours of Hercules. London: Collins Crime Club, 1947. First U.K. Edition. Original jacket.
Taken at the Flood. London: Collins Crime Club, 1948. Original jacket.
Mrs. McGinty's Dead. London: Collins Crime Club, 1952. First U.K. Edition.
Hickory Dickory Dock. London: Collins Crime Club, 1955. Original jacket.
Condition: Original jackets worn; volumes overall very good.
CC Comments: Rather surprising that PBA Galleries put all of these books in a single lot. Most of the books here published pre-1943 are worth ~$400 - $500 each (for both the unjacketed and jacketed), with the exception of Poirot Investigates (US) which is worth less. The ABC Murders being a review copy is certainly unique. The rest are worth ~$500 in total. Fair value for this lot is likely ~$4,000 - $5,000. WIth the Buyer's premium bids up to ~$3,200 - $4,000 could be justified as fair value. Given the estimate of $500 - $800 by PBA it makes you wonder what their book department specialists know about the current state of the Christie market.
Lot 67: A collection of 8 Miss Marple Mysteries.
Most clothbound in original dust jackets. Mostly First Editions unless otherwise noted. Comprising: The Murder at the Vicarage. London: Collins, 1930. Facsimile jacket.
The Body in the Library. London: Collins Crime Club, 1942.
The Moving Finger. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1942.
The Moving Finger. Collins Crime Club, 1943. 1st UK Edition.
A Murder is Announced. London: Collins Crime Club, 1950
A Murder is Announced, Dodd, Mead & Co, USA, 1950. 1st US Edition in pictorial wrappers
They Do it with Mirrors. London: Collins Crime Club, 1952.
A Pocked Full of Rye. London: Collins Crime Club, 1953.
Condition: Varying amounts of edgewear to jackets and wrappers; volumes very good or better.
CC Comments: The US printing of A Murder is Announced appears to be a review copy or advance printing in soft covers. The most valuable book here is The Body in the Library - worth up to $1,000 or more assuming no major jacket damage. Collectively this lot is likely worth ~$1,600 - $1,900. So fair value for bidding would be around $1,300 - $1,500. PBA estimated the value at $500 - $800.
Values and opinions are based on the very limited pictures provided by PBA Galleries. If there is an item you are interested in you should contact them to ask for additional pictures and details. Items that can heavily affect value are as follows:
Dust Jackets: Is it complete, is it price clipped or is it priced (true UK first) or unpriced (colonial edition).
Book Boards: Is the cloth faded, worn or damaged?
Interior: Are the hinges sound and tight, are there inscriptions or owner marks - if so are they meaningful? Is the copyright page correct?
The auction can be found here: LINK.
Our article of authenticating signatures can be found here: LINK.
Our article on identifying true firsts (with links to all decades contained within) can be found here: LINK.
For those of you bidding, good luck! There are potentially some good deals to be found here.