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Agatha Christie

The Manx Bookshelf

(click to enlarge)

July 9, 2003 - Scott #994
offset lithography, perf 14
24 × 42 mm

Agatha Christie
Antigua & Barbuda
Central African Republic
Great Britain - 1990
Great Britain - 1991
Great Britain - 2016
Isle of Man - 2003
Isle of Man - 2006
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
Somali Republic

One of a set of six stamps issued by the Isle of Man Post focusing on writers and literature associated with the island.

In 1930, Agatha Christie was commissioned to write Manx Gold, a mystery story serialized in the Daily Dispatch. It contained cryptic clues to the hiding places on the island of four £100 treasure-hunt prizes, with the idea of enticing vacationers to the Isle of Man — and it worked!

Each stamp in the set includes an extract from the featured publication in microtext, which can be read with a strong magnifying glass. Here's an enlarged image of the tiny text on the Christie stamp, along with a transcription of the poem, and a glossary:

Manx Gold
Old Mylecharane liv'd up on the broo,
Where Jurby slopes down to the wold.
His croft was all golden with cushag and furze,
His daughter was fair to behold.

"Oh Father, they say you've plenty of store,
But hidden all out of the way.
No gold can I see, but its glint on the gorse;
Then what have you done with it, pray?"

"My gold is locked up in a coffer of oak,
Which I dropped in the tide and it sank.
And there it lies fixed like an anchor of hope,
All bright and as safe as the bank."

broo - The projecting edge of a cliff or hill, standing over a precipice or steep.
Jurby - a Manx parish. Jurby West is a community in the NW of the Isle of Man, on the Irish Sea.
wold - a piece of open country; a plain. (and obsolete: a wood)
croft - an enclosed field.
cushag - the common ragwort, Senecio jacobæa.
furze - the popular name of Ulex europæus, a spiny evergreen shrub with yellow flowers.
gorse - another name for furze.
coffer - box, chest, strongbox in which money or valuables are kept.
tide - the water of the sea.

first day cover

sheet of 20 - thanks to Nicola Malavasi!

paperback, 192 pages
Acacia Press, Inc. (1998)
ISBN: 0006510183

While the Light Lasts

a collection of stories previously published in magazines
  • 'The House of Dreams' (1926) - the first story Agatha Christie ever wrote - relates the strange effects of a recurring dream on a man's life.
  • 'The Actress' (1923) tells of a woman who turns the tables on her blackmailer.
  • 'The Edge' (1927) - a tragic tale of jealousy and infidelity.
  • 'Christmas Adventure' (1923) - Poirot appears in the original draft of what was to become 'The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding'.
  • 'The Lonely God' (1926) - about two lonely people who meet in the British Museum.
  • 'Manx Gold' (1930) - two young characters race against time to discover buried treasure.
  • 'Within a Wall' (1925) - a tragic love triangle.
  • 'The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest' (1932), - another early Poirot story which Christie later reworked.
  • 'While the Light Lasts' (1924).

the complete set:

Agatha Christie
Manx Gold

Nigel Kneale
Quatermass and the Pit

George MacDonald Fraser
Flashman at the Charge

Hall Caine
The Eternal City

Mona Douglas

Barbara Taylor Bradford
Emma's Secret