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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie First Editions: 1960-1964

Updated: Apr 9

This is the tenth instalment on our series on ‘true firsts’ where we review the first time Agatha Christie’s stories were published – including the newspaper or magazine serialisation if this occurred before the hardback book was published. Links to the other nine articles from 1920 onwards are at the foot of this article.


Part 10: 1960 to 1964:

In this part we will focus on six books first published from 1960 to 1964. The Dodd, Mead & Co book "13 for Luck!" is not included since all of the short stories it contained were previously published in hardback. The Collins version of "13 for Luck!" did contain a first hardback printing for the UK market (The Market Basing Mystery) but it was not published until 1966 so it will be covered in our next instalment.


While first edition hardback books are the pinnacle of many Christie collections, for others, the less travelled world of magazine collecting is appealing. Most novels, or the stories collected, first appear in magazines or newspapers, though often abridged. While magazines are still generally easy to locate, original newspaper printings will be almost impossible to obtain.


The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding: 1960.

First Appearance: This book contains six stories - five with Poirot and one with Miss Marple. It is the only UK collection that has stories with both characters. All of the stories previously appeared in magazines or small format books. Their first appearances are as follows:

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding: A shorter version of this story appeared in the UK in The Sketch magazine (issue 1611) on 11 December 1923, and in two small format books: Problem at Pollensa Bay and Christmas Adventure (Todd 1943) and Poirot Knows the Murderer (Polybooks 1946). The first full length appearance was in This Week, a US newspaper supplement, in two instalments ( 25th September 25 to 2nd October, 1960) titled The Theft of the Royal Ruby.

The Mystery of the Spanish Chest: This is an enlarged version of The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest that appeared in The Strand (issue 493) in January 1932. The true first publication of the book's version was in Woman's Illustrated (September 17, 24, & October 1, 1960).


The Under Dog: First published in The Mystery Magazine (USA) on April 1926 (Vol. 8, No. 6) and in the UK a few months later in the The London Magazine (October 1926). The story's first book version was in Two New Crime Stories, published by The Reader's Library (UK) in September 1929.


Four and Twenty Blackbirds: First published in Collier’s, Nov 9, 1940 (Vol. 106, No. 19). The first UK publication was in The Strand (Issue 603) on March 1941 under the title of Poirot and the Regular Customer.


The Dream: First published in the US in The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 23, 1937. In the UK, it was published in The Strand (Issue 566) in February 1938.


Greenshaw's Folly: First published in Toronto, Canada, inStar Weekly on Nov 3, 1956. In the UK it was published in Woman's Journal in August 1960.


First Edition: Published by The Crime Club, Collins, London, UK on 24 October 1960, priced twelve shillings and sixpence (12/6). As a collection, it includes the true first hardback printing of three stories - Greenshaw's Folly, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and The Mystery of the Spanish Chest.

Value: A very good jacketed copy is worth £50-75.


First US Hardback: There is no US equivalent of this book. In the US, The Dream appeared in The Regatta Mystery (Dodd, Mead & Co; 1939). Four and Twenty Blackbirds appears in Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (Dodd, Mead & Co; 1950). The Underdog appeared in The Underdog and Other Stories (Dodd, Mead & Co; 1951). Greenshaw's Folly and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (under its alternate title) first appeared in the US book Double Sin (1961) - discussed below. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest was not published until 1997, when Putnam included it in The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories.


Double Sin and Other Stories: 1961.

First Appearance: This book contains eight stories - unusually with a mix of Poirot and Miss Marple stores. The first appearances of the individual short stories are listed below. Several of the images are sourced from www.philsp.com, an excellent web resource for magazine collectors.

The Double Clue: First appeared in The Blue Book magazine (US) in August 1925 (Vol. 41, No. 4).


The Last Seance: First appeared in Ghost Stories magazine (US) in November 1926 as The Woman Who Stole a Ghost.


Wasps' Nest: First appeared in Detective Story magazine (US) on 9th March, 1929 as The Worst of All.


Double Sin: First appeared in Detective Story magazine (US) on 30th March, 1929 as By Road or Rail.


Sanctuary: First published in two parts in This Week, a broadly circulated Sunday newspaper supplement in the US (12th & 19th September, 1954) confusingly as Murder at the Vicarage.


Greenshaw's Folly: In Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US) in March 1957 (Vol. 29, No. 3).


The Dressmaker's Doll: First appearance in the Star Weekly (Toronto, Canada), a newspaper supplement on 25th October, 1958. Later it appeared Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US) in June 1959 (Vol. 33, No. 6).


The Theft of the Royal Ruby: First appearance was in This Week, the Sunday US newspaper supplement, in two instalments ( 25th September to 2nd October, 1960).


First Hardback: First published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in July 1961 and priced $3.50. It is the true first hardback printing of five short stories: Double Sin, Wasps' Nest, The Double Clue, The Dressmaker's Doll and Sanctuary. The mostly cream coloured jacket covers cream coloured boards.

Value: A very good jacketed copy will likely sell for $100-150.


First UK Edition: There is no UK equivalent. However, the stories did appear across various books - a few before Double Sin was published, but mostly after. The Seance appeared in The Hound of Death and Other Stories (Odhams, UK; 1933), and both The Theft of the Royal Ruby (under the UK title The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding) & Greenshaw's Folly appeared in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Collins, UK; 1960). Double Sin, Wasps' Nest, and The Double Clue were included in Poirot's Early Cases (Collins, UK; 1974).

Lastly, The Dressmaker's Doll and Sanctuary are in Miss Marple's Final Cases and Two Other Stories (Collins, UK; 1979):


Because Dodd Mead & Co published Double Sin in 1961, this caused most of the following US books to be published almost one year after the UK Collins printing in order to stay with one Christie a year which was the pattern Dodd Mead was following at this time.


The Pale Horse: 1961

First Appearance: The novel first appeared in Woman’s Mirror (UK), serialised over eight abridged instalments from 29th Aug to 16th Oct 1961. In the US, prior to the Dodd, Mead & Co. hardback being published, an abridged version appeared in the Ladies' Home Journal in April 1962 (Vol. LXXIX, No. 4)

First Edition: Frst published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1961 priced fifteen shillings (15/-).

Value: While prices are all over the place for this book, a buyer should still be able to find a very good, not price-clipped jacketed Collins for £70-90.

First US Hardback: The first US printing was by Dodd, Mead & Co in September 1962 priced $3.75. The mostly cream jacket covers red cloth boards.

Value: A very good jacketed Dodd, Mead & Co (not book club) can still be found for $75-100.



The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side: 1962.

First Appearance: The novel was first serialised in the Star Weekly, a Toronto newspaper supplement, in two abridged instalments from 9th & 16th March 1963, with the abridged title The Mirror Crack'd. There does not appear to be a UK or US magazine publication of this story.

First Edition: First published by The Crime Club, Collins, London, on 12th November, 1962, priced fifteen shillings (15/-). The cloth boards are the standard orange colour.

Value: A buyer should still be able to find a very good jacketed Collins for £50-75.


First US Hardback: The US edition was published by Dodd Mead & Co., New York, in September 1963 under the abridged title The Mirror Crack'd, priced $3.75. The mostly black jacket covers a bright yellow book.

Value: A very good jacketed copy will likely sell for $75-100.


The Clocks: 1963.

First Appearance: There is no known publication in advance of the Collins hardback. The story was serialised in the following months in Woman's Own (UK) in six abridged instalments from 9th November to 14th December, 1963. In the US an abridged version appeared in Cosmopolitan in January 1964 (Vol. 156, No. 1). This did precede the US book publication.

First Edition: Published by The Crime Club, Collins, London, UK on 7th November, 1963. It was priced sixteen shillings (16/-). For some reason this jacket was very susceptible to tearing and chipping. A very good or better complete jacket is highly desirable, but given the scarcity it makes this book substantially more valuable than The Pale Horse or The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.

Value: A buyer should still be able to find a very good Collins for £125-150.


First US Hardback: The first US edition by Dodd Mead & Co, New York was published in September 1964. It was priced $4.50. Continuing their lack of uniformity to the hardback book colour, the mostly cream coloured dust jacketed covers a book with red panels and a grey spine.

Value: A very good Dodd Mead will likely sell for $50-70.


A Caribbean Mystery: 1964.

First Appearance: The Collins hardback was published prior to the novel's complete serialisation in Woman's Own (UK), which spanned November-December 1964. It was also serialised in the Star Weekly, a Toronto newspaper supplement, in two abridged instalments from January 16 to January 23, 1965. This did precede the Dodd, Mead & Co. North American hardback.

First Edition: Published by The Crime Club, Collins, London, UK on the 16th November, 1964. It was priced sixteen shillings (16/-). The cloth boards are different on this book, with the spine a solid orange-red and the panels a red and black hatch.

Value: A buyer should still be able to find a very good jacketed Collins for £50-65.


First US Hardback: The first US edition by Dodd Mead & Co, New York was published in [August] 1965, priced $4.50 - again in the following year. The hardback has a light green spine while the majority of the panels are a dark green.

Value: A very good Dodd Mead will likely sell for $50-70.


Summary:

Agatha Christie books from the 1960s are still very affordable compared to earlier books. Part of this is due to the larger print runs, but also the less appealing jackets and to some degree the stories are less appreciated than those of her golden age in the 1930s.


This is starting to change and it likely won't be long until very good, complete jacketed copies become hard to find. Consequently they represent good value today. For US editions, ensure the copy you are buying is the correct first and not the book club version. There are online sites that sell facsimile jackets and these can be used as reference. For UK versions, all domestic books below had their price on the front flap. For the magazines discussed, collector quality copies are usually quite affordable though patience will be needed to assemble complete sets when serialised. Newspaper printings and supplements are generally much harder to locate as they were more often discarded.


The information provided is believed to be accurate. Any corrections, enhancements or additional points are clarity are most welcome. Email them to collectchristie@gmail.com


Other News:

This will be my last article for a few weeks as I'm heading to the Festival in a few days. If you are in the south-west of England there are still lots of events with spaces available. I will be presenting a ‘Collecting Christie Live!’ event at 3pm on Friday 15th September. My presentation is about Christie’s stage plays, with insights into collecting playscripts, programmes and other theatre memorabilia. Tickets are required with proceeds supporting the Festival’s Charity. For more details click here. Note: attendees will receive a free Samuel French playscript for one of Christie's stage plays.


Update: Many have asked if this presentation will be available online. Shortly after the event, an abbreviated summary of my presentation will be available to read online at "Breaking Character", the online news magazine of Concord Theatricals (link). I will work on publishing the full expanded version on my website once time permits.


For those who are coming I will be at numerous other events, including various talks, the cocktail night on Wednesday, the Towards Zero play event on Friday and the Greenway dinner on Saturday. I hope to connect with as many of you as I can at these events.


Links to all the prior articles on Collecting True Firsts:

Part 1: 1920 to 1932 (link)

Part 2: 1933 to 1935 (link)

Part 3: 1935 to 1937 (link)

Part 4: 1938 to 1940 (link)

Part 5: 1940 to 1944 (link)

Part 6: 1944 to 1948 (link)

Part 7: 1948 to 1951 (link)

Part 8: 1952 to 1954 (link)

Part 9: 1955 to 1959 (link)

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3 Comments


cluelass
Sep 24, 2023

In your discussion of The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding collection above, the US publication data for “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” was accidentally copied from the info on “The Under Dog”. The true first of "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" was the US publication in Collier’s, Nov 9, 1940 (Vol. 106, No. 19).


The true first of “The Dream” was the US publication in The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 23, 1937.


Per the Fiction Magazine Index, "Greenshaw’s Folly” was first published in the Toronto, Canada, Star Weekly on Nov 3, 1956.

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David Morris
David Morris
Sep 30, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for these corrections. The article has been updated!

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vuko100w
Sep 21, 2023

I have recently done research on Agatha Christie omnibus editions. While there are many such collections, there are 31 that are original. When collecting the first editions, we find that some of these exist only in a book club edition, that is the book club IS the true fisrt. Is ther some way to share this?

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