EASTON PRESS: The "Poirot Six" Collection.
Over the years, various smaller publishing houses have received permissions from Agatha Christie Limited and the primary publishing firms, such as HarperCollins, to issue 'boutique' versions of Christie novels. These can vary substantially in quality and appeal. For example, the Chatham River Press editions of Christie books from the 1980s are an example of a particularly poor quality publication. Easton Press, based out of Norwalk, Connecticut in the States, is one of the better publishers. Over the last twenty years they have published ten Agatha Christie titles. These include six as part of a Hercule Poirot collection (discussed below), the first and last Miss Marple stories (Murder at the Vicarage & Sleeping Murder), And Then There Were None, and last, but not least, Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. In future articles we will discuss the more recent four titles, but the original six volume Poirot set is arguably the most desirable of their titles.
The Six Volume Poirot Set: The original Easton Press Poirot set comprised the following titles: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Mystery of the Blue Train, The ABC Murders, Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. It is hard to argue with the selection of titles as some of the best Poirot novels as these are all certainly highly appreciated - and yes, even the underrated Mystery of the Blue Train has many devout fans. What is of particular appeal with these volumes is the inclusion of the original Collins dust jacket cover art as a flyleaf. This tasteful touch adds tremendous visual appeal to these books (scroll down to see images of all the internal artwork). To the best of our knowledge, this set of books has been republished numerous times starting in 1999, with reissues in 2003, 2005 and 2006. If readers of Collecting Christie own sets with different publishing dates please let us know.
Easton Press features: In addition to the reproduced original Collins Crime Club cover art which is unique to these six volumes, each book also benefits from the standard features of Easton Press titles. This includes a premium leather binding (which they state is completed in the States), gilded page edges, satin ribbon page marker, long-lasted acid neutral paper, sewn binding and 22 karat gold accenting on the spine. The overall quality and feel of each volume is very good and will enhance any bookshelf.
Values: The resale market for these books is generally comprised of unread copies as many people appear to have initially acquired these as an investment or shelf copies. The resale market generally seeks approximately $1,000 US for these books (and most of them are still located in the USA). It is uncommon to find the titles sold individually. The total quantity published is unknown, though it is likely numbers are small, certainly under a few thousand. Private Press and Small Press items such as this should generally be viewed like art. Buy what you like the look of and what will give you pleasure owning. It is unlikely that Easton Press volumes will gain value in years ahead though they should hold their value. The factors that will most influence values in the years ahead will be whether Easton Press continues to publish Christie titles, leading to collectors seeking the back catalogue (all now out of print) and whether the quality stays consistent or preferably improves. For now, collectors can generally find sets available on all the typical online book sites or by asking their favourite book dealer to locate them. The "Poirot Six" will also frequently appear at auction where prices may be more favourable.