In the Heritage (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) sale an exceptional copy 1938 first of Brighton Rock in the rarely seen dust jacket – featured in a preview piece in ATG No 2405 – made a record $75,000 (£60,975).
However, that sum only just edged it past a copy in a torn and repaired jacket sold for £58,000 at Sotheby’s in 2010.
Illustrated in that same preview was an inscribed, presentation first of of Wilkie Collins’ After Dark, an 1856 collection of six inter-woven short stories, all bar one of which had been previous published by Dickens in Household Words.
Another record-breaker at $11,000 (£8945), it was inscribed for WS Herrick, a portrait painter who in the book’s preface is acknowledged by Collins as a source for the facts on which two of his tales are based.
Agatha Christie first editions
Many of the top lots were found among the many Agatha Christie firsts on offer.
A copy of her third short story collection, a 1930 work that introduces the character described by Heritage as “her scarcest and most enigmatic detective”, The Mysterious Mr Quin of the title, carried the highest estimate.
It certainly sold well at $15,000 (£12,195), but a couple of other lots made more.
The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928), featuring her much more famous creation, Hercule Poirot, and Why didn’t they ask Evans? (1934) made $18,000 (£14,635) apiece.
In the latter, two amateur sleuths investigate when a body is found on a golf course, but another golf-inspired novel, a 1923 first of The Murder on the Links, sold for $14,000 (£11,380), was an early Poirot case. Two other Poirot mysteries that sold well were Dumb Witness of 1937, the jacket featuring a photograph of the author’s dog, Peter, and Appointment with Death of 1938. They sold at $12500 (£10,160) and $7500 (£6100).
A group of books by other writers whose works sold well in New York.
The earliest, a 1915 first of The Thirty-Nine Steps, the book in which John Buchan introduced his hero, Richard Hannay, made $7000 (£5690).
Published in 1922, a clean and bright copy of AA Milne’s only venture into this field, The Red House Mystery, realised $8500 (£6910) and Meet the Tiger, the 1928 book in which Leslie Charteris introduced readers to Simon Templar, or ‘The Saint’, made $12,500 (£10,165).
With one exception, The Mystery of the Blue Train, a copy of which sold for £13,000 at Sotheby’s in 2016, all the above lots made auction record sums – often by quite a margin.