Henry VIII, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Beatles, Sherlock
Holmes and the good Dr. Watson have become indelible symbols of
British history. Arthur Conan Doyle breathed life into his two
fictional but entirely credible characters, and their popularity
created an insatiable appetite for more adventures which brought
both financial gain and frustration for the author. Even now,
some 110 years after Holmes made his first appearance in A
Study in Scarlet, the Detective's uncanny wisdom and
attention to detail continue to inspire the public at large.
After accumulating and reading all 56 Sherlock Holmes
stories and novels, the serious collector of Shelockiana may add
to their collection other publications, photos, related
stories, and, well, almost anything bearing a likeness of
"The Sleuth and the Surgeon". The goal of many is the
purchase of an original issue or two of the Strand Magazine, where
Holmes made his first serialized appearance in July of 1891. From
there, it may grow to include first editions of the novels, to original
manuscripts and artwork available only at auction. What follows are a few
items I found to be interesting additions to a collection of
Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.
examples of issues of the Strand Magazine, which, shortly after
its inception, was largely the first to publish all
of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, (save for A Study in
Scarlet and The Sign of Four)
between July of 1891 and April of 1927. Prices vary depending on the
condition of the publication. Some of
the most desirable issues are the first, A Scandal in Bohemia
(July, 1891), The Speckled Band (February, 1892), The
Final Problem, (December, 1893) and The Empty House
The much desired signature
of Arthur Conan Doyle taken from a letter he had written to an
admirer of his work. It reads, "Yours very truly, A. Conan
we see an early photograph of A. Conan Doyle, taken around 1898,
just prior to his voluntary involvement as a member of the
medical staff in the Boer War. It is around this time that the
initial drafts of The Hound of the Baskervilles began
to take shape.
Many of the stars
of the dramatic versions of Doyle's stories also developed a
following as well. William Gillette and Eille Norwood were popular Thespians
who portrayed the Sleuth on stage and in silent films. The most famous
Sherlock Holmes of all was Basil Rathbone, here within a valuable original publicity still from
the 1939 movie, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,
co-starring Nigel Bruce and Ida Lupino.
Several of the
series of 14 Sherlock Holmes episodes starring Basil Rathbone and
Nigel Bruce (based on Doyle characters but rarely on his
stories) are available on video. (Many have puzzlingly gone out of print, but can be found at inflated prices on auction sites like eBay.) Created between 1939 and 1946,
the series is comprised of the Hound of the Baskervilles, the Adventures
of Sherlock Holmes, The Voice of Terror, The Secret Weapon, Sherlock
Holmes in Washington, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, The Spider Woman,
The Scarlet Claw, The Pearl of Death, The House of Fear, The Woman
in Green, Pursuit to Algiers, Terror By Night, and Dressed to Kill.
Ratings for the movies range from mediocre
to very good, with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The
Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Scarlet Claw
taking top honors.
through 1967, American Doctor Julian Woolf designed for Lord Donnegal, the emminent
expert on Sherlockiana of the time, a series of Christmas cards with Sherlock Holmes
references adorning the outside and inside. These, too, are quite scarce and desirable.
Recent authors have
succeeded in capitalizing on Doyle's creations by providing a
hungry audience with ever more fascinating adventures in book and
movie form. An example of a successful adaptation starring
Sherlock Holmes is The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, by
Nicholas Meyer, published in 1974. This is an example of a
pre-publication advance copy in paperback format.
Lennon of The Beatles fame wrote two small books, one of which,
titled A Spaniard in the Works contained a parody on
Doyle's writing style. The story was called The Singularge
Experience of Miss Ann Duffield, and was filled with the
play-on-words style renown in Lennon's music.
"Harrybellafonte, my dear Whopper."
1987, 100 years after Sherlock Holmes appeared in print with the
publication of A Study in Scarlet, a resurgence of
interest in Sherlockiana began. Here, a copy of the Times' Radio
Times TV magazine had a view of Holmes reading a copy of his
first adventure. The late Jeremy Brett also came into vogue at
this time as Sherlock Holmes in the PBS series created in
beautiful detail by Granada Television.
organizations devoted to the continued study of Doyle's Duo have
been around for decades. One highly respected quarterly is The
Baker Street Journal, published by The Baker Street
Irregulars in New York. If you wish to contact them, their
address is P.O. Box 465, Hanover, PA 17331, USA.