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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

UPCOMING AUCTION: 25 March 2021: Forum Auctions

Below is our preview of the Forum Auction "Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper" to be held on Thursday 25th March 2021 at 1:00pm GMT. Interested bidders should register well in advance to ensure bidder rights are granted in time.

While much smaller in scope for collectors of Agatha Christie, Forum Auctions in London (UK) has seven Christie books. All are first British editions. Special attention should be given to our comments in Lot 171. Auction price estimates do not include the 25% buyer’s premium.

Lot 168: The Murder on the Links, The Bodley Head, 1923. Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000. Description: First edition, 8pp. advertisements, the odd marginal spot or light mark, light browning to endpapers, front endpaper with bookplate to verso and ink ownership inscription dated 21.8.23 to recto, original cloth, with line design in black, very light fading to spine, light rubbing and bumping to spine ends and corners, small minor splitting to lower joint but holding firm, some light cockling and surface soiling to covers, light rubbing to extremities. Auction House Comments: a very good copy Christie's third novel and the second to feature Poirot. A scarce title in good, unrestored state. CC Comments: Given the price realized at Sotheby’s last month for a similar book was almost double the estimate here, expect this to realize well above the high estimate. This is a very scare book in original cloth.

Lot 169: Poirot Investigates, The Bodley Head, 1924. Estimate: £1,000 - 1,500. Description: First edition, 14pp. advertisements, neat ink ownership inscription to head of half-title, light browning to endpapers, morocco book label of Florence and Edward Kaye to pastedown, original orange cloth lined and lettered in blue, slight darkening to spine, minor bumping to spine ends and corners, some light surface soiling, a bright and excellent copy overall. CC Comments: Certainly more common than lot 168 and the estimate seems appropriate, though perhaps a little low given the brightness of the cloth and condition.

Lot 170: The Secret of Chimneys, The Bodley Head, 1925. Estimate: £500 – 700. Description: First edition, 2pp. advertisements, foxing to initial and final few ff., ink ownership inscription and bookplate to front free endpaper, original cloth, light fading to spine, spine ends and corners a little bumped with short splits to head and foot of spine, some light surface soiling, a very good copy. CC Comments: This is one of those books that seems fairly common, but truly very good copies are hard to find. This is close to very good, but the splits to the cloth on the spine detract. Estimate seems fair.

Lot 171: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Collins, 1926. Estimate: £3,000 - 4,000. Description: First edition, some light scattered spotting or foxing, bookplate to pastedown, original blue cloth lettered and lined in orange, very light sunning and small mark to spine, light rubbing and bumping to tips of spine and corners, dust-jacket, upper panel and half of spine supplied in excellent facsimile, retouching and repairs to spine, lower panel and flaps, preserved in custom morocco-backed drop-back box. Auction House Comments: A presentable and affordable example of one of the rarest of Christie dust-jackets. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is both a key Christie title and an important landmark in the history of detective fiction. A Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone with an entertaining and controversial twist. CC Comments: This book has floated around for sale for quite a while now without a buyer given it's a 'Frankenstein'. After a discussion with Max Hasler of Forum Auctions Book Department he added to the Auction House’s comments “With the lower panel, flaps and part of spine the original and upper panel and remainder of spine in facsimile”. This should ensure any bidder clearly knows exactly what you are buying – the book, the rear panel of the dust jacket, the flaps and a bit of the original spine’s backstrip. At the recent Sotheby’s Auction a similar quality book (not jacket bits) sold for £2,772 (including buyer’s premium). So what are the rear panel and flaps worth and what will they add to the book’s value? So we will find out. but I would argue not more than maybe £500 just for the novelty of it. An auction price (excluding b/p) over the £3,000 low estimate would surprise me.

Lot 172: The Mysterious Mr Quin, Collins, 1930. Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000. Description: First edition, some scattered spotting to fore-edge, first and last few pp., neat ink ownership inscription and some light browning to endpapers, original cloth, minor rubbing and bumping to spine ends and corners, else fine, dust-jacket priced at 7/6, light sunning to spine, light sunning to spine, spine ends and corners a little chipped, some neat restoration to lower panel, light creasing to head and foot. Auction House Comments: In effect an excellent example of a rare and delicate dust-jacket, preserved in custom morocco-backed drop-back box. We can trace only a handful of copies in the dust-jacket at auction. 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 (with b/p), while the Sotheby’s copy was of a higher quality and reached £20,160 (with b/p). Thus the estimate range seems fair for this book.

Lot 173: Lord Edgware Dies, Collins, The Crime Club, 1933. Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000. Description: First edition, 4pp. advertisements, foxing, original cloth, patches of fading to spine, light discolouration to upper cover, dust-jacket, priced at 7/6 on spine, light sunning to spine, spine ends and corners chipped, affecting imprint at foot of spine, short closed tear to head of upper panel, a few very short nicks and tears to head and foot with some creasing, light surface soiling to lower panel. Auction House Comments: Overall a good, unsophisticated copy of a rare jacket, preserved in custom morocco-backed drop-back box. Only two copies in the dust jacket traced at auction in the last 40 years. A good, early Poirot title with a photo-portrait of the actor Charles Laughton as Poirot on the lower panel taken from a stage adaptation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. CC Comments: The recent Sotheby’s sale of this title, also in jacket, reached £27,720 (with b/p). However, that jacket was restored, though the buyer did share images to us of the restoration which was minimal and similar to what this copy’s jacket may experience if restored. The other difference is the colour of the price. This copy for auction has 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.

Lot 174: Hercule Poirot's Christmas [signed], Collins, The Crime Club, 1939. Estimate: £6,000 - 8,000. Description: First edition, signed by the author on endpaper, 3pp. advertisements, a few small patches of soiling to text, original cloth, tips of spine sunned, first state dust jacket priced at 7/6, light darkening to spine, spine ends and corners chipped, short closed tear running from upper panel top corner, chip and some creasing to head of lower panel. Auction House Comments: A bright and very good example overall. Rare signed, we can trace only one other copy at auction. This copy with "were" on p. 162 corrected to "was", allegedly in Christie's hand. CC Comments: We are aware of two copies of this book that sold at auction in the last few years alone – both reaching approximately £2,000 (with b/p). So the question here is what is the Christie signature worth. In monitoring sales of signed Christie books we’ve generally observed the following: signature only, with no provenance adds about £500; signature with provenance can add almost double; a meaningful, personalized inscription to a person of note could add up to £2,000 more. We’ve always taken the position that signatures are a tricky proposition, so no judgement is made as to authenticity. With the correction to the typeset error in this book it has the aura of authenticity, so perhaps it adds £1,000 to the value. If our pricing is accurate, this book will struggle to reach the low estimate.

For our readers who do participate in this auction, please let us know if you were successful. We'd love to hear from you.

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