Publication History

The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection is a book club set released by Bantam. Typically, the volumes feature leatherette hardcover boards with gold lettered titles on the spine and a uniform silhouette of Christie and the series title on the front cover. The colour of the boards is called “Sussex Blue”, which is a very dark navy that often looks black in certain lighting.

agatha christie bantam books cover
agatha christie bantam books endpapers

The decorative endpapers for each volume were designed by Peggy Skycraft with book design by Barbara N. Cohen. Books are approximately 5.75″ x 8.75″. Akhnaton and Absent in the Spring were released without the silhouette on the cover.

How many books are there in the complete series?

The first set of 81 volumes was published by Bantam between 1983 to 1990. A second set of 18 titles was published by Literary Express between 1992 to 2000, including 7 new volumes and 13 books that were renamed under their UK title variants (as well an additional 7 re-releases of previously published titles). The covers of the second set have the Bantam name and logo on the spine, but different information on the copyright page of the books. Many early volumes in the series had multiple printings (at least 15 in some cases), and there are also a few variants in the titles and authors for these editions. So it depends how you define ‘complete’ to get the exact number of books in the series. If you just want a copy of each book, then you would be looking at 88 volumes. If you want to collect all the different titles, then you are looking for at least 101 books, or around 125 if you include all the variants including re-releases, the bookends and the numerous engagement diaries that were released in series binding between 1989 to 1999.

For the true completist, Come, Tell Me How You Live which was released in two versions with both Agatha Christie and Agatha Christie Mallowan listed as the author, and Witness for the Prosecution has only 9 stories while the far rarer The Witness for the Prosecution contains two additional stories to make a total of 11 tales (note a missing ‘the’ in the former title). Unfortunately, variants typically have the same ISBN, so you will have to view the specific book you are purchasing if you are keen to get these additional volumes. 

In addition to the engagement diaries noted above, a special set of matching bookends featuring the cover silhouette and endpaper design were also released.

Bantam Agatha Christie Bookends web
agatha christie bantam books deluxe gilt edges

And finally, a small number of ‘deluxe’ versions were also released for many of the volumes in the first wave of books. These editions were bound in genuine leather with gilt-edged pages. They are more sturdy than the standard volumes and are quite lovely, but also more rare than the standard leatherette editions. 

    Is this series truly “complete”?

    Because Bantam Books is an American publishing company, this series was based on the American releases of the Christie books, so there are a few UK titles that were not included. Most of these are short story collections (where the stories were included in different volumes in the US) or works that were cowritten with other authors. Examples of these titles include Poirot’s Early Cases (short story collection), The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (short stories), The Spider’s Web (a play adaptation by Charles Osborne) and The Floating Admiral (a collaborative novel written by the members of The Detection Club).

    Which books are the rarest (and what are they worth)?

    Most of the volumes in this series are readily available second-hand, so they can be obtained fairy cheaply from around $3 to $20 or so each (depending on condition) if you are interested in collecting a set. However, the later publications (those published from 1992 onwards) are much less common, with a few truly rare volumes commanding prices of $100 plus. I have seen complete sets of 101 or more volumes sell in excess of $1500, but these high prices are usually due to the presence of all the rare variants which would otherwise be difficult and time-consuming to track down. 

    A couple of volumes are hard to find if you shop online because they were released with different US and UK titles using the same ISBN, including The Sittaford Mystery Murder at Hazelmoor, and There is a Tide… / Taken at the Flood. Very confusingly, a couple of completely different titles were released with the same ISBN, namely Evil Under the Sun (common) and The Harlequin Tea Set (very rare).

    Hard to track down volumes include the UK variant titles such as Death in the Clouds (US title: Death in the Air) and Murder in the Mews (US title: Dead Man’s Mirror) which typically sell for $100 plus. The Witness to the Prosecution variant mentioned above goes for >$500. And the two rarest UK variant titles (published last in October 2000) hardly ever appear so sellers often command what they will, including Hickory Dickory Dock (Hickory Dickory Death is the common US title) and After the Funeral (equivalent to the US title Funerals are Fatal). Less common volumes are those that were published in the later ‘wave’ that had no earlier equivalent in the US, namely Star Over Bethlehem, Poems (usually sells for >$25), The Unexpected Guest (usually >$50)Black Coffee (usually >$200), and The Harlequin Tea Set (very hard to find, another volume where sellers charge what they want). 

    What’s in the Engagement Diaries?

    I’ve had a few questions about the engagement diaries, so I’m adding a bit of information about these and a few pics here as well. The first ‘Engagement Calendar’ book was released in series binding (including decorative endpapers) in 1987, and one followed each year thereafter. In 1990 a ‘Special Centennial Engagement Diary’ was released, featuring a different portrait to replace the familiar silhouette. From 1991 onwards, the books returned to the original binding design except they were were renamed as an ‘Engagement Diary’. In the mid 1990s, the font style also changed to a more decorative style. The last diary was printed in 1999.

    The diaries were intended to be used as daily planners, and are larger in size than the novels. The contents of each book is slightly different. Weekly spreads contain excerpts from her writing, and often other tidbits such as highlighting dates that her plays opened etc. The front and back matter also includes additional information such as photos of Christie and a list of her works as well as more space for personal information (birthdays, anniversaries, addresses) and other info.

    Complete List of Books in the Series

    You can sort the table below by US title, UK title, or date of publication. Clicking on the linked titles or ISBNs will take you to AbeBooks if you are trying to track down a specific book in the series. Variant editions are listed where available, and the notes column includes information about rarity, alternative titles under which the books have been published, and other details.

    US TitleUK Title (Variants)ISBNOriginal PublicationBantam PublicationNotes
    The Mysterious Affair at Styles 0-553-35004819201988
    The Secret Adversary0-553-35028-519221985
    Murder on the LinksMurder on the Links (variant publisher)0-553-35037-4
    Variant: 1-581-65017-5
    19231985, 1998 (Variant)Later variant published by Literary Express.
    Poirot Investigates0-553-35031-519241985
    The Man in the Brown Suit0-553-35077-319241988
    Poems0-553-35103-619251996
    The Secret of Chimneys0-553-35064-119251987
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd0-553-35001-319261983
    The Big Four0-553-35041-219271986
    The Mystery of the Blue Train0-553-35068-419281985Unhelpfully, the same ISBN was re-used by Random House for their BBC Radio Drama publication of this novel.
    Partners in Crime0-553-35008-019291983
    The Seven Dials Mystery0-553-35051-X19291986
    Black Coffee 1-58165-078-719301998Novelisation of Christie's play by Charles Osborne. Rare.
    The Murder at the Vicarage0-553-35006-419301983
    The Mysterious Mr Quin0-553-35043-919301986
    The Sittaford Mystery The Murder At Hazelmoor0-553-35024-219311984Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Inconveniently, both were issued with same ISBN.
    Peril at End House 0-553-35073-019321988
    The Tuesday Club MurdersThe Thirteen ProblemsUS: 0-553-35048-X
    UK: 1-581-65133-3
    19321986 (US), 2000 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.
    Thirteen At DinnerLord Edgware DiesUS: 0-553-35076-5
    UK: 0-553-35099-4
    19331988 (US), 1996 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title uncommon.
    Mr Parker Pyne, Detective0-553-35061-719341982Also published elsewhere as 'Parker Pyne Investigates'.
    Murder on the Orient Express0-553-03000-019341983Also published elsewhere as 'Murder on the Calais Coach'.
    Why Didn't They Ask Evans? 0-553-35005-619341983Also published elsewhere as 'The Boomerang Clue'.
    Death In The AirDeath in the CloudsUS: 0-553-35047-1
    UK: 1-581-65130-9
    19351986 (US), 2000 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.
    Murder In Three Acts Three Act Tragedy0-553-35069-219351988Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Both issued with same ISBN. UK title very rare.
    Cards on the Table0-553-35025-019361984
    Murder in Mesopotamia0-553-35029-319361985
    The ABC Murders0-553-35002-119361983
    Akhnaton0-553-35102-819371996Play. Uncommon. Published without the silhouette on the cover.
    Dead Man's Mirror Murder in the MewsUS: 0-553-35074-9
    UK: 0-553-35093-5
    19371988 (US), 1997 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title rare.
    Death on the Nile0-553-35003-X19371983
    Poirot Loses a Client Dumb WitnessUS: 0-553-35033-1
    UK: 0-553-35098-6
    19371985Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK title uncommon.
    A Holiday for Murder 0-553-35035-819381985Also published elsewhere as 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas'.
    Appointment with Death0-553-35062-519381987
    And Then There Were None0-553-35000-519391983Also published elsewhere as the very politically incorrect 'Ten Little Indians' / 'Ten Little Niggers'.
    Easy to Kill 0-553-35055-219391987Also published elsewhere as 'Murder Is Easy'.
    The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories0-553-35079-X19391986Short story collection.
    Sad Cypress0-553-35023-419401984
    The Patriotic Murders0-553-35042-019401986Also published elsewhere as 'One, Two, Buckle My Shoe'
    Evil Under the Sun Evil Under the Sun (variant publisher) 0-553-35010-219411983, 1998 (Variant)Later variant published by Literary Express (same ISBN). Same ISBN also used for the much rarer 'The Harlequin Tea Set'.
    N or M?0-553-35072-219411988
    The Body in the Library0-553-35058-719421987
    Murder In Retrospect Five Little PigsUS: 0-553-35038-2
    UK: 1-581-65016-7
    19431985 (US), 1998 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition uncommon.
    The Moving Finger 0-553-35009-919431983
    Absent in the Spring 0-553-35082-X19441992Tragedy. Author listed as Mary Westmacott, no silhouette on the cover. Uncommon.
    Towards Zero 0-553-35011-019441983
    Death Comes At The End0-553-35013-719451988
    Remembered DeathSparkling CyanideUS: 0-553-35030-7
    UK: 1-58165-015-9
    19451985 (US), 1998 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition uncommon.
    Come, Tell Me How You LiveCome, Tell Me How You Live (variant author)0-553-35049-819461985Variant volumes feature alternate author names: Agatha Christie or Agatha Christie Mallowan. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.
    The Hollow0-553-35050-119461986Also published elsewhere as 'Murder After Hours'.
    The Labors of Hercules 0-553-35019-619471984Also published elsewhere as 'The Labours of Hercules'.
    There Is a Tide... Taken at the Flood0-553-35066-819481987Alternate titles for UK / US editions. Confusingly, they have the same ISBN.
    Witness for the Prosecution and Other StoriesThe Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories0-553-35007-2
    Variant: 1-581-65121-X
    19481989, 1999 (variant)Variant edition 'The Witness for the Prosecution' (with 'the' included in title) contains 2 additional stories. Short story collection.
    Crooked House Crooked House0-553-35054-4
    Variant: 1-581650795
    19491986, 1999 (variant)Later variant published by Literary Express.
    A Murder is Announced0-553-35040-419501986
    Three Blind Mice and Other StoriesThree Blind Mice and Other Stories (variant publisher)0-553-35080-3
    Variant: 1-581-65110-4
    19501988, 1999 (variant)Later variant published by Literary Express. Also published elsewhere as 'The Mousetrap and other stories'.
    The Underdog and Other Stories0-553-35070-619511988
    They Came to Baghdad 0-553-35034-X19511985
    Mrs McGinty's Dead 0-553-35059-519521987
    Murder with Mirrors 0-553-35027-719521985Also published elsewhere as 'They Do It With Mirrors'.
    A Pocket Full of Rye0-553-35044-719531986
    Funerals are Fatal After the FuneralUS: 0-553-35016-1
    UK: 1-581-65153-8
    19531984 (US), 2000 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition rare.
    So Many Steps to DeathDestination UnknownUS: 0-553-35052-8
    UK: 1-581-65129-5
    19541986 (US), 2000 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition rare.
    Hickory Dickory DeathHickory Dickory DockUS: 0-553-35012-9
    UK: 1-58165-152-X
    19551984 (US), 2000 (UK)Alternate titles for UK / US editions. UK edition very rare.
    Dead Man's FollyDead Man's Folly0-553-35078-1
    Variant: 1-581-65005-1
    19561988, 1998 (variant)Later variant published by Literary Express.
    What Mrs. McGillicudy Saw!0-553-35018-819571984Also published elsewhere as '4:50 from Paddington'.
    Ordeal by Innocence0-553-35067-619581987
    The Unexpected Guest1-58165-110-419581999Play. Adapted by Charles Osborne. Uncommon.
    Cat Among the Pigeons0-553-35014-519591984
    Double Sin and Other Stories 0-553-35057-919611987
    The Pale HorseThe Pale Horse (variant publisher)0-553-35046-3
    Variant: 1-581-65106-6
    19611986, 1999 (variant)Later variant published by Literary Express.
    The Mirror Crack'd0-553-35015-319621984
    The Clocks 0-553-35071-419631988
    A Caribbean Mystery0-553-30532-819641985
    At Bertram's Hotel 0-553-35063-319651987
    Star Over Bethlehem & Other Stories0-553-35104-419651996Short stories. Uncommon. Author listed as Agatha Christie Mallowan.
    Third Girl 0-553-35060-919661987
    Endless Night0-553-35039-019671985
    By the Pricking of my Thumbs0-553-35021-819681984
    Hallowe'en Party0-553-35020-X19691984
    Passenger to Frankfurt 0-553-35075-719701988
    Nemesis0-553-35022-619711984
    The Golden Ball and Other Stories 0-553-35065-X19721987Short stories.
    Elephants Can Remember0-553-35017-X19721984
    Postern of Fate0-553-35056-019731987
    Curtain: Poirot's Last Case Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (variant publisher)0-553-35026-9
    Variant: 1-581-65014-0
    19751984 (Variant 1998)Variant Literary Express publication.
    Sleeping Murder0-553-35036-619761985Also published elsewhere as 'Miss Marple's Final Cases'.
    An Autobiography 0-553-35081-119771990Non-fiction
    The Harlequin Tea Set and other stories 0-553-35010-219771998Very rare. (Also, inconveniently released with the same ISBN as 'Evil Under the Sun').
    Agatha Christie Engagement Diaries1989-1997 (1990 special commemorative edition)Produced in series binding during the early 1990s.

    24 Comments

    Jonathan Wall · 24 October 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Daisy,

    It’s been a while since I’ve written, so I thought I’d post an update on my new findings. First, just today I received an odd copy of Elephants Can Remember which, like The Man In The Brown Suit and A Caribbean Mystery, has no printing key. Unlike the ordinary version it says Mystery Collection on the copyright page instead of Hardcover Collection. It also says published in arrangement with The Putnam Berkley Group instead of Dodd, Mead. The ISBN is 0-553-35017-X.

    Second, I also just today received a variant of The Hollow published September 2000 by Bookspan. It says reprinted by special arrangement with J.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc. The ISBN is 1-58165-154-6.

    Third, you asked earlier if I had heard of a 1997 release of The Mysterious Affair At Styles. At the time I had not, but tomorrow I should be receiving a copy of it. I don’t know the ISBN offhand, but I do know it says The Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection/June 1983, February 1997. This copy actually has a printing key, stating the book is a 3rd printing.

    Later this week I should be receiving an upside down copy of Hallowe’en Party, which will go nicely with my upside down printings of Murder In Mesopotamia and What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!.

    In the meantime, I have heard rumours there may be variants of Partners In Crime, Appointment With Death and Cards On The Table. Have you heard any such rumours?

    Lastly, I would like to ask if you are sure there is a 1998 variant of Evil Under The Sun by Literary Express? I ask because I absolutely cannot find a copy. I have written to countless sellers on Abe Books, Biblio and third party Amazon sellers whose listings *say* LE 1998, but in every case they have said the listings are wrong and they only have 1983 copies. I’m seriously doubting the book exists, but I wanted to check with you before I abandon my search for it. You know infinitely more about this collection than anyone else I’ve ever encountered, so I trust your information and value your opinions.

    Thank you for your time,

    Jonathan

      Daisy · 29 October 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Jonathan – thanks so much for your valuable updates – your collection sounds so fantastic! I am pretty sure the 1998 LE variant of Evil exists, because although I don’t have a copy myself, I made sure that I had sighted the copyright page before adding it to the list. I’m not sure where I put all the photos right now, but I will go through my archives and put a pic up for you to confirm when I find it. For the variants, yes, I have heard of some additional variants, but haven’t seen physical proof – and as you mentioned in your hunt for the Evil variant, it’s frustrating but I find you really do need to see the book to be sure as people list all sorts of crazy stuff online! I would say I have high confidence there is probably a LE variant for Cards on the Table, but am not so sure on the others. I look forward to hearing about the 1997 release of Styles as well! Warmest wishes
      Dx

        Jonathan Wall · 30 October 2019 at 10:34 am

        Daisy,

        Yes, I would like to see the copyright page of Evil 1998 if you can find it. Meanwhile, the 1997 Styles book arrived. It says it was published in arrangement with the Putnam Berkley Group. In the publication history section it says Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection/ June 1983, February 1997. The ISBN is 0-553-35004-8. It actually has a printing key, showing it to be a 3rd printing.

        I made a mistake before when I told you about the LE re-release of Murder In Mesopotamia. It was published by Bookspan instead, and in July 2000… which is very odd since Cat Among The pigeons was re-released by LE in August 2000. Then Bookspan re-released The Hollow in September 2000. After The Funeral and Hickory Dickory Dock were published by Bookspan in October 2000.

        I have also learned by someone who claims to have it that Hallowe’en Party was re-released by Bookspan, but I have seen no proof of it yet.

        I have taken pics of the “prototype” copy of Murder On The Orient Express and also of the copyright pages of all the other books I’ve mentioned if you would care to see them so you can have visual proof of their existence.

        Jonathan

    Cathy · 7 August 2019 at 7:40 pm

    So happy to find this wonderful website, Daisy. Thanks ever so much for the wealth of information. I do have a question about the Agatha Christie Engagement Diaries. Are those a series of her appearances that were put into the Bantam Books Mystery Collection? I can find no other information anywhere on these. I appreciate any help you can lend…thx again!

      Daisy · 7 August 2019 at 7:55 pm

      The diaries were more intended as books in which the reader puts their own appointments for the year. But each page has excerpts from her writing, and often other tidbits such as highlighting dates that her plays opened etc. The back matter also includes additional information such as photos of Christie and a list of her works as well as more space for personal information (birthdays, anniversaries, addresses) and other info.

        Cathy · 7 August 2019 at 11:07 pm

        Wonderful, TY.

    Terry Waggoner · 28 July 2019 at 1:48 pm

    In trying to complete my wife Agatha/Bantam collection(I’m missing three or four depending in your answer) “The Harlequin Tea Set”? She has the LE version……..but is there a Bantam Book version?

      Jonathan Wall · 29 July 2019 at 2:14 am

      Terry,

      No, there is only the Literary Express edition. I wondered the same thing for a long time, but eventually came to realize there is only the LE version. The Harlequin Tea Set is one of the 7 “new” titles printed in the 90’s (and the only one of the 7 to say LE on the spine) and none of them were published in the 80’s under any other title.

      The only other title which has LE on the spine is Five Little Pigs, but it says Literary Express, Inc., whereas The Harlequin Tea Set is missing the “Inc”. Keep in mind there are 2 versions of Five Little Pigs- one has Bantam and the Bantam logo on the spine and the other has LE, Inc. on the spine, but they were both published in March 1998.

      I hope this was helpful to you.

      Jonathan

        Terry Waggoner · 31 July 2019 at 2:52 am

        Jonathan,

        Thank you for your response…….

        tw

    Jonathan Wall · 19 July 2019 at 9:26 am

    Daisy,

    I must say your site has been invaluable to me in my quest to collect all the editions of the Agatha Christie Mystery Collection. Your information has helped me so much I cannot properly express how grateful I am!! When I first started collecting these books (long before I found this site) I was clueless as to what I was getting into. This has been at times a very confusing, frustrating, maddening and also exciting challenge.

    To date I have all 80 original titles, all 80 in deluxe form as well, the second copies of Come, Tell Me How You Live and The Witness For The Prosecution (1989 and also 1999), the Autobiography, the 7 new titles from the ’90’s, all 13 of the books released under the original British titles, 6 of the 12 engagement calendars/diaries, the 100th birthday over-sized coin/medallion, a set of the bookends and just today discovered a matching address book.

    Of the Literary Express variants you mentioned I have all but Crooked House. But here’s my dilemma: I have 5 Literary Express variants you do not have listed, and those are By The Pricking Of My Thumbs (1999), and in 2000 I have Cat Among The Pigeons, Murder In Mesopotamia, Sad Cypress and The Labors of Hercules. I also have a 1998 variant of Five Little Pigs with Literary Express, Inc on the spine.

    Since I have stumbled across these titles which you do not have listed, am I left wondering just how many more there might be. Any ideas as to how I might find a listing of all the volumes published by Literary Express? My fear is I may never know if my collection is truly complete. As it is I have 200 volumes, plus what appears to be a prototype of Murder On The Orient Express (Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection, July 1982), so I’m saying 201 volumes.

    Thank you again for your wonderful and incredibly helpful site!

      Daisy · 19 July 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Jonathan

      Thanks so much for writing, and sharing your wonderful collection (particularly the deluxe editions, which are a really special collection in my opinion) and knowledge. The list I had of Literary Express variants I had sourced from the publishers directly back in the early 2000s, and cross-checked with a collector who bought them on subscription as they were released. However, neither the publisher records nor the subscriber records included the additional volumes you have found! Mind you, given some of Literary Express’s other issues, like re-using isbns and other dubious record-keeping practices – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Publisher and subscriber records are the most reliable way I have found to build collection databases, but when the publisher has incomplete records then I guess it is up to collectors like ourselves to pool our knowledge! (It seems tracking down everything in this collection is a mystery in itself…) Are you able to share the isbns of your additional volumes so that I can update the list here for other collectors?

      I’m also very interested in your prototype – does it have the same cover image/isbn? I was told anecdotally by another collector that they recalled the deluxe leather-bound volumes were initially advertised as the ‘hardback collection’ (vs the leatherette which was initially advertised as the ‘mystery collection’) – although I haven’t seen any leaflets or anything in this regard so can’t confirm directly. Also, as far as I can tell from my research, the books were published with ‘Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection’ on the copyright page up until around April 1986 (from first printings of the books published up until Pocket Full of Rye), then somewhere between April and December 1986 they began changing their copyrights to read ‘Agatha Christie Mystery Collection’ (from the first printing of Crooked House, and then for the later reprints of earlier books). Does this tally with the books in your collection also?

      Thanks again for taking the time to write and share your findings, db x

        Jonathan Wall · 20 July 2019 at 6:26 am

        Daisy,

        Thank you very much for replying. I don’t know anyone personally who cares a thing about my book collecting, so I’ve stopped discussing it what for boring people to tears. Hopefully you and other readers here will find my rambling at least marginally interesting.

        Here are the ISBNs for the variants I mentioned earlier:

        Sad Cypress- 1-58165-145-7 July 2000
        Cat Among The Pigeons- 1-58165-146-5 August 2000
        By The Pricking Of My Thumbs- 1-58165-122-8 August 1999
        Murder In Mesopotamia- 1-58165-130-9 July 2000
        The Labors Of Hercules- 1-58165-144-9 June 2000
        Five Little Pigs (with Literary Express, Inc on spine)- 1-58165-016–7 March 1998

        Curiously, Five Little Pigs with Bantam on the spine has the same ISBN and both books were released in March 1998. Also, none of the above books have a printing key and all of the books say Published Simultaneously in The United Sates and Canada and also Printed in the United Sates of America *except* for both copies of Five Little Pigs, which say neither of those things.

        I have a couple other oddities here as well. I have 2 regular copies of The Man In The Brown Suit. One says it was published in arrangement with Dodd, Mead & Company, August 1988. On the copyright page it asks if bookends are of interest. It does not say Published Simultaneously in The United Sates and Canada but *does* say Printed in The United Sates and it has a printing key, and this copy being a first printing.

        The second copy says published in arrangement with The Putnam Berkely Group, August 1988. On the copyright page it makes no mention of bookends and instead asks if additional titles are of interest. This copy *does* say Published Simultaneously in The United States and Canada but *does not* say Printed in the United States and it has no printing key. Both have the same ISBN- 0-553-35077-3

        Another oddity is A Caribbean Mystery. Here I am looking at a first printing leather copy which has the title and author centered on the spine. It says published in arrangement with Dodd, Mead & Company, May 1985. It says Published Simultaneously in The United Sates and Canada, printed in the United States of America and has a printing key. It makes no mention of bookends or additional copes. It is also referred to as Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection.

        The regular copy says it was published in arrangement with The Putnam Berkely Group. It asks if additional titles are of interest, it says Published Simultaneously in The United States and Canada and also Printed in The United Sates of America but it has NO printing key.

        Also, the second copy has the title and author written out together on the spine with the diamond separating the two. This copy says Agatha Christie Mystery Collection and it says it was published (by Bantam) in May 1995… 10 years after the other book. Both copies have the same ISBN- 0-553-30532-3.

        But here before me is yet another copy. This a first printing regular format version. It says published in arrangement with Dodd, Mead & Company, Agatha Christie Hardback Collection, May 1985. It asks if bookends are of interest, says Published Simultaneously in The United States and Canada, Printed in The United States and it has a printing key. On this copy the lettering on the spine matches that of the leather version and this copy shares the same ISBN as the other two copies.

        These are just a couple of examples illustrating how finding/collecting the volumes of this collection have been so confusing and often difficult. All three copies of A Caribbean Mystery are distinctly different than one another because of the information on the spines and on the copyright page.

        I will have to resume my rambling later as I am currently pressed for time. I will close for the moment with this: I wonder if Agatha Christie would be annoyed or amused to learn that her greatest mystery of all is the Bantam Agatha Christie Mystery Collection…?

        Thank you for your time,

        Jonathan

          Daisy · 23 July 2019 at 4:26 pm

          Thank you so much for sharing those details – and you have definitely found an audience here with the same fascination for solving literary mysteries and finding all these little details! Sorry to take to long to reply – had to find all my research, ha! Thrilled to share notes with you – it’s the terrible record keeping in the 1990s that is the killer. Then I can update the list here more thoroughly after we have seen what we can piece together!

          From my research, we have the first subsidiary publishing experiment ‘Absent in the Spring’ in 1992 (published by ‘Bantam in arrangement with Rosalind Hicks’, with the ‘Harold Ober’ mailing address for more information) which has the Bantam spine but a blank cover. Then I think the Putnam Berkley Group references first appear in May 1996 with Akhnaton (again, Bantam spine/blank cover, but back to Bantam with the BDD series mailing address). The silhouette cover returns in October with ‘Star Over Bethlehem’ and ‘Poems’. My copy of ‘Lord Edgware Dies’ lists only the year (1996) with no month, but I assume it is later than than these others based on the cover design and mailing address, as well as a new reference to ‘Agatha Christie Mystery Collection’ in the series information, which was also used in the 1997 ‘Murder In the Mews’ (the earlier editions use ‘Agatha Christie Collection’). Also, I have seen an ebay listing for a 1997 edition of Mysterious Affair At Styles, but did not see the copyright page so can’t confirm – can you confirm the existence of this edition?

          February 1998 appears to be the first official use of the Literary Express subsidiary group (and they also frustratingly stop including the printing line so it is all guesswork about what is a first or later printing). The first few LE designs seem to have had no publisher details on the spine (no rooster icon, no bantam) for Dead Man’s Folly (Feb 98), Three Blind Mice (Feb 98), Murder on the Links (Mar 98) and Curtain (Mar 98). Then we have two which have Literary Express on the spine – Harlequin Tea Set (Feb 98) and Five Little Pigs (Mar 98). And then Sparkling Cyanide (Mar 98) seems to be the first of the LE editions which return to the original Bantam spine (along with subsequent reprints, from which we presumably get your Five Little Pigs with Mar 98 date but Bantam on the spine).

          Sep 98 we have another crossover with Black Coffee and St Martin’s Press (first time this title was printed in the US I think). Then August 1999 the publisher changes again (GP Putnam Sons) and the address for Putnam Berkley Group moves to 375 Hudson St.

          If you were able to wade through all that, please let me know how this tracks with your collection???

          Dx

            Jonathan Wall · 26 July 2019 at 5:04 am

            Daisy,

            Everything in your first paragraph matches up with my own books exactly. I will add that Murder In The Mews, even though printed in 1997, says Hardcover Collection. I only have one copy of Lord Edgware and it, too, gives no month of publication and only the year (1996).

            Another thing I’ve noticed (aside from what you have mentioned) about Akhnaton, etc., is that Star Over Bethlehem, Poems and Absent in the spring all three use the British printing key (or one of them): 13579108642, but Akhnaton does not. Curiously, Dumb Witness also uses the British printing key. And then of course The Harlequin Tea Set, The Unexpected Guest and Black Coffee have no printing key at all.

            I have never seen a later printing/re-release of The Mysterious Affair At Styles, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It could be a bizarre re-release from Bantam like what happened with A Caribbean Mystery. But I’ve done a bit of poking around and have learned there were two editions of The Mysterious Affair printed in 1997, but neither have anything to do with this collection. Collins published an edition in 1997 and so did Dover Publications as a part of the Dover Mystery Classics collection.

            I have the four LE re-releases which list no publisher on the spine and as far as I know they are the only ones. I’m guessing the copies of Five Little Pigs with Literary Express, Inc on the spine must have been the first off the printing press and then Five Little Pigs with Bantam on the spine the second since, as you pointed out, every edition after that has Bantam on the spine. It seemed odd to me at first that both editions were released in March of 1998, but there are so many odd things about this collection I don’t know why I thought anything of it!

            Another odd thing is The Harlequin Tea Set says Literary Express *without* the “Inc”, but Five Little Pigs has the “Inc” added on. To my knowledge those are the only two volumes which have LE on the spine… do you agree?

            Yes, as far as I can tell it was August 1999 when GP Putnam returns as a division of The Putnam Berkley Group and the address changes to 375 Hudson St. This/that book is the August 1999 LE re-release of By The Pricking Of My Thumbs, ISBN 1-58165-122-8 and no printing key.

            Going back to the ’80’s, there is something curious which you might be able to shed some light on. I have never seen a 3rd or higher printing of There Is A Tide (only 1st and 2nd printings) and I have never seen a 1st or 2nd (or 4th or higher) printing of Taken At The Flood- only 3rd printings for Flood. Likewise, I have only seen 1st and 2nd printings of Murder At Hazelmoor and only 3rd printings of The Sittaford Mystery. BUT, I have both 1st and 2nd printings of Poirot Loses A Client and Dumb Witness. It’s as if the 3rd printings of Taken At The Flood and The Sittaford Mystery *are* the first printings for both titles. Why, then, did they not do the same for Poirot Loses a Client and Dumb Witness?

            The address book I mentioned in my last post arrived yesterday. It’s beautiful and matches the books exactly, except for being much smaller. It has gold gilt pages and a small matching pen (black and gold) which slips down into two leather loops. The top loop is attached to the underside edge of the front cover and the lower loop the back. The small matching pen slips down through the loops to keep the book closed. I knew about (and have) the 100th birthday coin/medallion and the matching bookends, but the discovery of the address book was a total surprise.

            In a bit I will reply to your previous post, as there some things there I’ve neglected to address. I hope at least something of what I’ve written today has been helpful or of interest.

            Jonathan

        Jonathan Wall · 26 July 2019 at 7:21 am

        Daisy,

        According to my collection, the last title to say Hardcover Collection is A Pocketful Full Of Rye in April 1986, and the first to say Mystery Collection is The Pale Horse in May 1986. I haven’t looked at every single book after that, but as far as I know every title printed since (and including The Pale Horse) says Mystery Collection except for Murder In The Mews, 1997.

        Oh! That reminds me. Murder In The Mews is the only other book (that I know of) besides Lord Edgware Dies which does not list the month of publication. Weird.

        Anyway, I don’t know how to determine at what point exactly the later printings of titles published prior to May 1986 were changed to Mystery collection. I’ve looked at random titles (I have a LOT of spares) but doing so isn’t really telling me anything. Here’s an 8th printing of Roger Ackroyd and it says Hardcover Collection. Here’s a 3rd printing of Towards Zero and it says Mystery Collection. The list goes on, but, and again, I don’t see a way to tell if the change started with the publication of The Pale Horse or Crooked House or perhaps somewhere in between.

        But here is another oddity. I’ve looked at later printings of various titles from The Pale Horse and onward and they all say Mystery Collection except one: So Many Steps To Death. The 1st printings of the deluxe and regular versions say Mystery Collection, as they should, but the 2nd printings of both the deluxe and regular versions revert back to Hardcover Collection. I have no idea what to make of that.

        I do not know anything about the deluxe versions being recalled because they said Hardcover Collection. I have all 80 titles in deluxe format and they all say Hardcover Collection until the publication of The Pale Horse. The deluxe versions switching from Hardcover to Mystery correspond exactly with the regular versions.

        The book I am referring to as a prototype looks only partially like the other books in the collection. The binding is not completely encased in padded leather. The faux leather is not padded and only covers the spine and then outward onto the cover (front and back) about 2 inches. The rest of the cover (front and back) is the marbled paper like the inside of the covers and the end pages of the other books. The marbling is the same design, but a bit darker and with a bit of blue in it. The marbled paper wraps neatly around to cover the inside of the cover (front and back) and then is followed by the glossy marbled end pages like the rest of the books. No mention is made of Peggy Skycraft or Barbara N Cohen.

        If you look at the spine only you cannot tell the difference between it and any other volume. Same faux “black” leather with Murder On The Orient Express in gold followed by the gold diamond and Agatha Christie following that. Also, the faux “black” leather isn’t made to look like leather at all; it’s shiny *and* it’s more like true Sussex blue. At a glance (or even stared at) it looks black, but it’s much easier to see the blue in all sorts of lighting whereas the other books really have to have just the right lighting to see the blue.

        The copyright page reads A Bantam Book/Published by arrangement with Dodd, Mead & Company. Printing History- Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection, July 1982.Then there is the usual information and says Published Simultaneously in The United Sates and Canada. Then at the bottom it says Printed in the United States of America and under that the printing key 0987654321.

        The ISBN is 0-553-03000-0

        I hope any of that was helpful!

        Jonathan

          Daisy · 7 August 2019 at 8:23 pm

          All super helpful – thanks again so much for sharing!

          Yes, the only copies I have ever seen with LE on the spine are The Harlequin Tea Set with LE and Five Little Pigs with LE Inc. There Is A Tide and Taken At The Flood were released with the same ISBN, similarly Hazelmoor and Sittaford, which is why their printing runs are consecutive; while Client and Witness have different ISBNs, so they have their own printing runs. However, as to your deeper question of why they were treated differently, I can only assume that when the first two were reprinted, the person in charge didn’t know that they were *supposed* to issue new ISBNs (it’s the responsibility of the printing house, and they don’t always follow protocol, especially because they have to pay for each new ISBN). Of course, even worse are the two different books with the *same* isbn, which rather supports the theory someone didn’t know what they were doing…

          The address book sounds lovely – you have certainly found such a wonderful number of rarities for your collection, I’m so impressed!
          Dx

        Lori Kushner · 10 October 2019 at 5:12 am

        I have the complete mystery collection printed by bantam books. My mother’s collection. My question is where do I find out their value? Where would I sell them? They are in excellent condition. Thank you very much.

          Daisy · 12 October 2019 at 8:37 am

          Hi Lori – it depends what you mean by a ‘complete’ collection. If you have some of the really rare variant editions (these are highlighted in in the article) it would be worth trying to find a collector for just those volumes, as only a collector would appreciate their specific value. If you have a more standard set, then I suggest looking at Ebay and Abe Books to get an idea of price in your area (postage for a collection that size would be an issue). You are then better armed to decide whether you would like to sell through a second-hand bookshop (who might buy the whole set, or sell on consignment for you), or look at other options such as online auction (Ebay) ordirect sale (e.g. Craigslist). Best of luck!

    Susie · 17 July 2019 at 10:48 am

    Thank you so much, Daisy, for compiling this list. As mentioned by others, I’ve been collecting these for years, but with only rare success. In changing to a new book store, I was able to put my name on their contact list when more came in. I just bought 2 BOXES of them this month! Now that I finally have the complete list, I know how much space I need on my bookshelves! What fun! As I start to read them all, i make time for other books in between, especially since I only have 49 of them to-date. I have a ways to go yet… Thanks again!

      Daisy · 17 July 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Susie – thanks so much for taking the time to write – I love to hear about collecting journeys! I find that the collections I’ve built over time are the most fun – it’s always a thrill to get a new one in the series (and two boxes sounds like a pretty amazing score!). 😀

    Melissa · 25 June 2019 at 7:53 am

    Thank you so much for this list and full details of these sets! I have searched for years for a definitive list to no avail until today. I began collecting this set after a copy of Come Tell Me How You Live was given to me by my grandmother (I had bought it for her many years before) as she knew of our mutual love of Agatha Christie stories. I began maintaining a spreadsheet but it quickly became messy with all the variants. Your list and site will be an invaluable resource to me as I continue to grow my collection.

      Daisy · 25 June 2019 at 8:14 am

      So glad the list is helpful, and lovely of you to take the time to leave a comment about it – best of luck growing your collection 😀

    Alex Barry · 23 January 2019 at 6:21 am

    Nancy, thank you for this exhaustive summary of the Bantam collection. It will serve as an invaluable resource. I’m fortunate to have all but a handful of the books, and am currently reading The Harlequin Tea Set as the final volume of my several year project of reading each book in its order of publication. I must say, for all I love her stories, after that project I am pretty well Christie’d-out! Now I can resume reading nonfiction of my primary passions, histories of medieval Europe, the Crusades, and the Byzantine Empire.

    By the way, I was referred to your blog by Beautiful_Books, a fellow member of a Christie fansite https://www.agathachristie.com/.

      Daisy · 23 January 2019 at 7:13 am

      Sounds like a fascinating project, but I can imagine it would be a little exhausting to read them all in a relatively short time! Medieval history was one of my college majors so I’ve always been fascinated by this era as well, although I’m probably more partial to Arthurian fiction these days! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment 😀

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