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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

Expensive Christie Collectibles - eBay sales: April-May 2023.

In our last review of eBay sales, we looked at ‘affordable collectibles’ – single items priced £20 or less (essentially the price of a new hardback book) that we believed were worth adding to a collection. For this article we’ve gone to the other end of the price spectrum and are only considering single items that sold for £500 ($600 US) or more – the ‘expensive’ collectibles.


What we aren't covering: Over the last few months there were many signed Collins printings sold, most of which went for $900-$1,000 each from an Australian vendor. I have chosen not to review these books as while provenance was stated to be available, none was provided and the signatures were questionable. Logically, if a seller has strong provenance, they would include it in the listing to ensure top value was realised. I only hope the buyers requested it in advance of the purchase and found confidence in it.


For every item we have profiled below, we show the price realized as stated by eBay and the currency based on where it was listed. Generally, to convert, £1 UK = €1.15 = $1.25 US = $1.80 AUS Verification of products or descriptions are not done by Collecting Christie but are taken at face value. Each item cited below begins with the seller’s description followed by our comments.


Pricey Books:


The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Bodley Head, London, UK (1921).

Sold for a negotiated discount under £6,370 as a Best Offer.

Seller Comments: A smart first edition of Agatha Christie's very scarce first published novel. Publishers' Original Binding, Very Scarce.

CC Comments: After the book was relisted it sold for an ‘accepted offer’ price – though likely still £5,000 or more. Of note, it’s not the first edition, but the first UK edition. The first printing was the John Lane, New York printing in 1920, followed by the Canadian edition. The cloth on this book was surprisingly good aside from some fraying on the front external hinge. This book has become very scarce in original cloth so I would say well bought for an item that rarely appears on eBay.


Thirteen at Dinner, Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, US (1933).

Sold for $600 as a Buy-it-Now.

Seller Comments: Original red cloth with bright black lettering. Top and bottom edge trimmed. Fore edge untrimmed. Unclipped dust jacket with $2.00 price. Very Good+ binding is tight. Text is clean without foxing. Dust Jacket is Very Good, spine ends lightly chipped. Front cover top lightly chipped.

CC Comments: UK title – Lord Edgware Dies. This should have been auctioned as this was a great purchase price for this book with bright cloth and a complete jacket. These early Dodd Mead books still present great value for collectors and can routinely sell for many multiples of this. In March, a Dodd Peril at End House in similar condition sold for $3,000 and that book is arguably more common.


The Moving Finger, The Crime Club, Collins, London, UK (1943).

Sold for £525 as a Buy-it-Now.

Seller Comments: First Edition / First Printing. Book pages in tight condition. Free from markings and inscriptions. Dulling to page edges. Light foxing on front page edges and on the inside FFEP's and boards, and three pages have a 1" tear but otherwise VG+ clean pages. Clean and bright cloth covers. Spine square, small amount of fading to top and bottom edges. Dust jacket not price clipped, some fading to the spine, small loss to top and bottom of spine and a small triangle missing from front.

CC Comments: Previously listed for £650, but it found a buyer at this price. It wasn’t that long ago that copies of this book sold for a fraction of this, but it is getting harder to find these with complete and correct jackets. Many are sold with later edition jackets reflecting a lower price on the flap than the correct 7s 6d.


Five Little Pigs, The Crime Club, Collins, UK (1942).

Sold for £510.10 with 6 bids.

Seller Comments: 1st UK Edition, 1st Print. Very rare. Some stains to red covers. Dust jacket with small tears/chips has moderate toning, marks and libris sticker to front flap. Pages have even tanning.

CC Comments: Variant jacket lacking the 8/- net price, thus assumed export copy although from a UK seller. Jacket likely married to the book since its cloth has fading not aligning with chips and tears. Hopefully the partially affixed bookplate can easily be separated from the front flap. As with most early 1940s UK Christies becoming hard to find with complete, correct jackets - even the export ones.


An Expensive Set of Magazines.


And Then There Were None, The Saturday Evening Post (multiple), NY, USA (1939).

Sold for $2,990 as a Buy-it-Now.

Seller Comments: All issues are complete and range from VG-NF.

CC Comments: The novel was serialised into seven instalments from 20 May (Vol. 211, No. 47) to 1 July 1939 (Vol. 212, No 1). The US publication started prior to the UK publication, which was in the Daily Express, but both published the last instalment on the same day. The magazine preceded both the UK and US hardback printings. The price here seemed exceptionally strong and is likely a high water mark for any Christie magazine set from the mid 1930s or later. It will likely cause collectors to scramble to assemble all seven magazines for resale and determine if there is this much ongoing demand for them or this was a unique sale.


A Rather Unique Letter.


Agatha Mallowan Handwritten Signed Letter, Wales (1963).

Sold for £650 as a Buy-it-Now.

Seller Comments: A manuscript letter to Mrs Elliot on Pwllywrach notepaper, one sheet, dated 'Boxing Day' together with an envelope postmarked 'Glamorgan 27 Dec 63'. "Dear Mrs Elliott / Thanks for the lovely card! / I thought I'd better warn you that I and Mr & Mrs Hicks will probably be coming down from Jan 6th to the 9th or 10th - Can you and Mrs Budd come and cope during that period? I'll let you know details later, after I get back to Wallingford. We leave here Sunday & spend a night with friends on the way back - / Best wishes to you all for 1964 / yours / Agatha Mallowan". Pwllywrach was the home of Agatha's daughter, Rosalind (Mrs Hicks) and her grandson Mathew. Agatha must have being staying with them for Christmas. Mrs Elliot was Agatha's housekeeper at Greenway, her home in Devon. This item was acquired last year (2022) at an auction of over 50 Agatha Christie items, which I believe were being sold by relatives of the housekeeper, Mrs Elliot.

CC Comments: Letters to Mrs. Elliot from Agatha (Christie) Mallowan are quite common as she would correspond in advance of visits to Greenway. However, the stationary is less common. With the envelope present this has the provenance it needs to be a grade A signature. Of note, Pwll-y-Wrach is just outside the small village of Colwinston which should be familiar to many fans of Agatha Christie as it is the name of the Trust into which profits from the Mousetrap are donated. Founded by Mathew Prichard in 1995, the trust supports primarily the arts in Wales. The home is still owned by the family. A letter from Agatha connected to this part of Wales is rather special. Well bought. Details on the trust: link.


A Very Rare Montblanc Pen.


Montblanc Writers Edition Agatha Christie Fountain Pen, Germany (1993).

Sold for $1,053 with 11 bids.

Seller Comments: Excellent condition. Researching this pen I have not come across an Agatha Christie pen with a green eyed snake. The eyes on the others are red. Additionally the name Paul Scanlon is on the pen under Agatha Christie. I do not know who that is. This pen is “Press 114”.

CC Comments: Well despite writing a detailed article on collecting the Christie Montblanc pens and pencil (link), this pen was new to me... so research was needed! I learned that between120-240 pens were made with green emerald eyes for a special press event hosted by Montblanc when this pen was released. Some Montblanc specialists have stated there were only 120 press edition pens in the silver edition, while some claim there were another 120 in the vermeil edition. When you consider there were ~30,000 regular pens, these are very rare by comparison. All these special edition pens were made with green eyes and are marked with "PRESS ###" instead of the usual edition number. I assume the engraved name is for the member of the press it was given to. If any of our readers have insights into this limited-edition version of the pen please let us know. While having someone elses name on the pen - unless well known - is not desirable, the scarcity is so I would sell well bought.


Summary:

Agatha Christie related items continue to be viewed as blue chip collectibles with a broad base of interested parties. With just a few items highlighted here it is clear many items are very valuable and command high prices so do your due diligence when buying on eBay and seek clarity from sellers on anything unclear or unsaid. You can even write to us at collectchristie@gmail.com and we’ll try to give feedback as quickly as we can. Collecting Christie items should be fun and rewarding so make sure you are paying the right price for the right item.


Big News!

If you enjoy our articles on Collecting Christie, then please join me for:


‘Collecting Christie Live!’ at the 2023 International Agatha Christie Festival.


I will be presenting at 3pm on Friday 15th September (yes – Christie’s birthday!) at the Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey, Torquay, Devon UK. Tickets are required with proceeds supporting the Festival’s Charity. For more details and to secure tickets click here.

I hope to see many of you there and at the other wonderful events throughout the festival.


As always… Happy hunting!


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