An 1898 edition of Chambers’ Etymological Dictionary of the English Language inscribed “Agatha Miller/ Ashfield/Torquay” on the front free endpaper may not at first glance seem all that promising an attraction.
However, Miller was the maiden name of Agatha Christie and Ashfield her much-loved childhood home in Torquay.
Sold at £2200 as part of a March 8 sale held by Gorringe’s (23% buyer’s premium) in Lewes, it was just one of a number of books bearing her inscriptions that were once to be found at Greenway House in Devon, the former holiday home of Agatha and her archaeologist husband, Max Mallowan, that is now a National Trust property.
Easy as ABC
Copies of Christie’s own books on offer were led at £6000 by a 1936 first of The A.B.C. Murders that bore an inscription to Dr Reginald Campbell Thompson, a professor of Assyriology.
It lacked its ‘Crime Club’ jacket and was described as bumped and sunned to the spine, but it bore an inscription that reads “Once again a tale is submitted to a critic who’s most fitted to exclaim ‘This seems to me just as plain as A.B.C.’, A.C.”
Also dating from 1936 was another Crime Club first of that year, Cards on the Table. Again lacking a jacket and once more discoloured and occasionally spotted to the cloth binding, it was inscribed “With love from Agatha” and sold at £2800.
Inscribed “James with love from Agatha…”, which could refer to either her brother-in-law or nephew, a 1954 first of Destination Unknown that still had its Collins Crime Club jacket made £2200.
The Sussex sale’s most expensive lot, at £32,000, was very different – an archive of deeds and documents of the 13th-17th centuries relating chiefly to Kent.
The collection was formed by Thomas Godfrey-Faussett (1829-77), a barrister who in 1866 moved to Canterbury as auditor to the Dean & Chapter of Canterbury and District Registrar of the city’s Probate Court.
The great-grandson of the Kentish clergyman and antiquary Bryan Faussett, he too came to devote his leisure time to the study of the county’s antiquities.
The 85 documents that made up the lot included 36 charters relating to the villages of Pluckley and Little Chart and most of the others related to Kent. The majority had once formed part of the archives of the Dering family of Surrenden House at Pluckley.