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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

AUCTION PREVIEW: Weiss Auctions: 10 Jan 2024.

Weiss Auctions, located on Long Island east of New York city, are holding an auction of rare books on 10th January 2024. Within the 388 lots are five books of interest to Agatha Christie collectors - including one of my favourite first editions - Dumb Witness. Items will be available for online or in-person bidding, and advance bids can also be placed. The buyer's premium is 18%. A link to the auction page is at the bottom of this article along with other resources to help bidders. Below I provide details on each lot as well as my opinion and estimate as to fair value. Items within brackets [ ] in the auction house description are my additions.

The Five Auction Lots:

Lot 207: Mr. Parker Pyne Detective.

[First US edition]. Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, [December] 1934. In Dust Jacket. Some wear to top of spine and chips to DJ spine edges. Very nice example of this book. Estimate $1,000 - $2,000.

CC Comments: First published in the UK under the title 'Parker Pyne Investigates', this short-story collection as published by Dodd, Mead & Co. does appear for sale quite often in a jacket. Thus, the price estimate is likely accurate for this book though if enough bidders are present I expect it to sell nearer to the top end.

Lot 208: Murder in Three Acts.

[First Edition]. Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, [September] 1934. With DJ. Publisher's orange cloth, with black titles to spine and upper, and publisher's decorated end papers. Dust Jacket is present but in pieces that can be restored. Book is Very Fine. Estimate $1,000 - $2,000.

CC Comments: This is a hard book to find in a very good or better jacket, so I expect someone will gladly acquire the 3-piece jacket and have it 'reconnected', and likely have the spine restored - where there does appear to be loss. Recent sales have generally been for under $1,000 at auction, so I expect this estimate may be optimistic. Of note is that Dodd Mead (the US publisher) asked Christie to revise the motive in the original manuscript for the U.S. audience. Dodd Mead was concerned that the motive would not be believed by U.S. readers due to different laws between the countries. Consequently, the text at the end of this book is different that the Collins edition - which is how Christie originally wrote it.

Lot 209: Murder is Easy.

[First Edition]. The Crime Club, Collins, London [June 5] 1939. Fine 1st in DJ with a piece of the Dust Jacket out of spine bottom. Price on front flap of DJ is 7s.6d. Estimate $500 - $800.

CC Comments: This first printing used to be fairly easy to find, but has now become quite scarce. Even with a flawed jacket, the correct UK pricing is appealing as many are priced clipped or export printings with no price. It is also an original pairing - as the fading on the spine matches the chip on the jacket. At Sotheby's in 2021, another example (but with a slightly better jacket) sold for £1,638. Thus, I would expect this to sell for over the high estimate.

Lot 210: Murder in Mesopotamia .

[First US Edition. Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, September 1936]. Scarce U.S. 1st in hard to find DJ. Fine Copy in DJ that has tears and small pieces out. Estimate $1,500 - $2,500.

CC Comments: The Dodd Mead first US printings from the 1930s are getting harder to find, and this title is definitely becoming scarce. Over the past few years, three copies of this book have appeared at auction with prices realised between $1,500 - $2,500 US. The estimate is accurate for this book.

Lot 211: Dumb Witness.

[First Edition]. London: for the Crime Club by Collins, [5 July] 1937. Price on front flap of DJ is 7/6 net. Fine copy in a solid tight and very nice dust jacket. Very Scarce book. Estimate $3,000 - $5,000.

CC Comments: The highlight of this auction as this title in this condition and correctly priced very rarely appears for sale. At Heritage Auctions in 2019, a first edition of this title sold for $15,525. Consequently, given the near fine condition of the book and very good jacket present, I expect this Lot to sell far above the high estimate. It is also an original pairing - not a married jacket as the small amount of fading at the top of the spine matches the chip. It's a beautiful book with its photograph of Agatha's own dog 'Peter' - the inspiration for 'Bob' and the dedicatee in this book. While I'm fortunate to own this book, I'd certainly jump in to acquire this if it settles anywhere near Weiss Auction house's estimate.

Important Notes:

Values and opinions are based on the pictures provided by Weiss Auctions on their website. If there is an item you are interested in you should contact them to ask for additional pictures and details. Items that can heavily affect value are as follows:

Dust Jackets: Is it complete, is it price clipped or is it priced (true UK first) or unpriced (colonial edition).

Book Boards: Is the cloth faded, worn or damaged?

Interior: Are the hinges sound and tight, are there inscriptions or owner marks - if so are they meaningful? Is the copyright page correct?

Supportive Links:

The auction can be found here: LINK.

Our article on identifying true firsts (with links to all decades contained within) can be found here: LINK.

For those of you bidding, good luck!

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