AUCTION RESULTS: Part II: Charlie Watts' Agatha Christie Collection - The Online Sale
On Friday, 29th September, 2023, Christie’s Auctions in London, UK is held part 2 of their two-part auction of the collection of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (1941–2021). The lots in this sale were considered the more 'affordable' items and many were bundled lots. This sale was conducted online with a sales process where each lot was staggered one minute apart. However, if a bid was received within the last 2 minutes another minute was added to the auction. This proved quite challenging for many bidders who then had to quickly switch between the lots. It felt a bit like spinning plates!
For the preview of this auction and more details on the lots, please read our review (link).
For the review of the Part 1 'Live' auction, please read the post-sale review (link).
All prices below include the buyer's premium. For US dollars multiple by ~1.2.
The total sale comprised 289 lots which realised £1,063,000. There were 35 Agatha Christie lots - mostly single books but a few grouped lots. Collectively, the Christie items realised £157,410, for an average of ~£3,500 per book. Over the two day sale, the total Charlie Watts collection sold for £4,500,000 and the Christies sold for £667,000.
In Part II, several of the books sold were later first editions that can generally be bought for £100 - £200 in very good jacketed condition. Thus, it was easy to assess the value buyers placed on the provenance - both the brief inscriptions from Agatha to Carlo (her long-time secretary) and the ownership of Charlie Watts. Most of these later books (1950s-1960s) sold for around £3,000. Those with dated or slight more unique inscriptions went a little higher, and those that were undated or heavily faded went a little lower. It can be inferred then that the combined provenance added ~£2,800 or so to each book. In addition, there were a few unsigned books that offered better value for those not seeking a Christie signature.
Now that both Part 1 and Part 2 are over, these books are all heading off to their new homes. I've heard from a few buyers who were able to secure lots and I'm pleased that many of these titles are going to home of true fans and lovers of Christie - not just into vaults or dealer stock. While some of the pricier ones may never get cracked open to read, I hope many buyers will actually sit down and at least read a chapter from these books. Reading from a book that one knows was held and signed by Christie is a unique experience.
If you were a buyer, bidder or observer, do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your auction experience and your thoughts about prices.
Note: All books sold were Collins Crime Club first editions, in a dust jacket, and signed by Agatha Christie to her secretary, Carlo, unless otherwise noted. Most jackets were married from other books.
Lot 320: £1,386: The Secret Adversary, The Bodley Head, London, 1922. Not signed, no jacket, poor cloth on spine and hinges (sorry - I didn't have a photo of this one or the grouped lots at the bottom).
Lot 321: £7,560: Poirot Investigates, The Bodley Head, London, 1924. Not signed, no jacket, very good plus bright cloth.
Lot 322: £756: The Passing of Mr. Quinn, The London Book Company, London, 1929. In the jacket. Book of the film based on Mr. Quin but written by McRae (pseudonym of?).
Lot 323: £5,040 The Sittaford Mystery, No jacket.
Lot 324: £5,292: The Thirteen Problems, No jacket.
Lot 325: £2,142: The Hound of Death, Not signed. Third edition in a dust jacket. CC Comments: The jacket is similar to the first Collins edition (which used art from the Odhams first printing). The Collins books are much scarcer than Odhams and this is the only time I've ever seen this jacket version, priced 4/-.
Lot 326: £12,600: Murder in Mesopotamia. CC Comments: This title could have been sold in the Part 1 live sale so a little unclear why it rolled to the online auction. It was the top individual seller for the Part 2 auction. While the jacket was a little worn, it is one of the four Robin 'Mac' Macartney jackets which are all highly evocative and collectible.
Lot 327: £3,780: Hercule Poirot's Christmas, No jacket. CC Comments: Very grubby boards. While it was signed, it was not from the Carlo Fisher collection.
Lot 328: £5,040: One, Two, Buckle my Shoe. CC Comments: A more unique inscription to Carlo from "Missus". It's debatable whether this is appealing or not? If you have lots of Christie signed things, then perhaps, but if this is your first Christie signed item wouldn't you want it to be from 'Agatha'? Hmm.
Lot 329: £4,788: N or M? CC Comments: A jacket with usual fading and colour loss to the spine which is very common for this book.
Lot 330: £4,032: The Body in the Library.
Lot 331: £3,024: Five Little Pigs.
Lot 332: £4,410: The Moving Finger, CC Comments: This was inscribed to Christie's daughter, Rosalind, and this caused a slight bump in values compared to the Carlo books.
Lot 333: £2,394: Towards Zero. CC Comments: A very good buy at this price considering the other books from this period, and with a nice bright jacket.
Lot 334: £5,040: Death Comes as the End, CC Comments: This was one lot were last minute bids dragged out the auction. Given its unique inscription to Francis "Larry" Sullivan referencing the play Murder on the Nile / Hidden Horizon it warranted a slightly higher valuation than the other books with just a simple inscription to Carlo.
Lot 335: £3,528: Sparkling Cyanide, Price clipped jacket.
Lot 336: £2,772: The Hollow, CC Comment: Typical sunned jacket spine.
Lot 337: £5,040: The Labours of Hercules, CC Comment: A very good plus jacket, but still unusually higher in sale price than similar books.
Lot 338: £3,276: Taken at the Flood.
Lot 339: £3,528: Crooked House.
Lot 340: £3,528: A Murder is Announced, CC Comment: Jacket had meaningful tears.
Lot 341: £5,292: They Came to Baghdad, CC Comment: Near Fine jacket.
Lot 342: £2,142: The Mousetrap [2 hardback playscripts] plus memorabilia. CC Comments: One play was signed by Richard Attenborough and one by Agatha Christie - both with appealing inscriptions. The price confirms her plays are still less collected than her books which is surprising to me given there are fewer of them and this is one of her gems.
Lot 343: £2,772: They do it with Mirrors.
Lot 344: £2,520: After the Funeral. CC Comment: Slightly different inscription related to the Queen's coronation making this more unique, and likely to her archeaologist friend and dedicatee of Five Little Pigs, Stephen Glanville, so this was very well bought for this price.
Lot 345: £2,394: A Pocket Full of Rye.
Lot 346: £2,772: Destination Unknown, CC Comment: Appealing because Christie's inscription is dated pre-publication.
Lot 347: £3,024: Dead Man's Folly, CC Comment: Meaningful chip at top of the jacket's spine.
Lot 348: £3,276: 4:50 From Paddington, CC Comment: Typical spine sunning to jacket.
Lot 349: £3,276: Cat Among The Pigeons.
Lot 350: £3,024: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. No jacket.
Lot 351: £2,772: Poirot's Early Cases. Inscribed to Mrs. Belson - Christie's housekeeper. CC Comment: The signature was what I've referred to a 'version 2' in my article on her signatures- a style of autograph that was significantly different than in earlier years and started in the early 1970s (details: link).
Lot 352: £3,276: Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. CC Comment: An incredibly frail signature, possibly assisted, but likely one of a handful of signed copies and arguably one of the last signatures she ever did.
Lot 353: £18,900: Set of 12 First Editions, all inscribed. Mostly 1960s and 1970s, with a couple of earlier books. CC Comments: The lowest priced inscribed books with an average of ~£1,500 per title. So clearly worth buying in bulk!
Lot 354: £9,450: Hercule Poirot's Christmas and other books [set of 7]. Included Third Girl (signed), the US Dodd Mead Witness for the Prosecution and the Arthur Ashley printing of the play Black Coffee.
Lot 355: £3,780: By the Pricking of My Thumbs and other books [set of 7]. Six first editions, one pre-publication play-script. Only one book inscribed.
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