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Not unlike 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 120 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 his novels, to original manuscripts and artwork available only at auction. What follows are a few interesting additions to a collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.


The Strand Magazine was first to publish nearly all of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, as well as the serialized Hound of the Baskervilles between July of 1891 and April of 1927. Several later issues promoted Doyle's character by featuring his likeness on the cover. Sidney Paget, the illustrator of many of the early stories, based Holme's likeness on his younger brother, Walter, who was actually the intended illustrator of the series. Copies of Strand magazines are quite scarce and appear in varied states of preservation when offered. Bound volumes containing six issues are more readily available and more reasonable in price.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, England retail  Price Range: $125 ~ $450

  Arthur Conan Doyle's signature and original letters are very much in demand, and are also quite difficult to come by. As Doyle's fame grew, so did the public's desire for his signature. Subsequently, many were signed by his personal secretary, but the one pictured is in Doyle's own hand. Be careful of forgeries; buy only from auction houses or dealers who are members of the Autograph Dealers Association (ADA).
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: U.S., England retail, Auction  Price Range: $225 ~ $650

Photographs of Doyle at early and late times of his life are readily available as copies, though original, never published images are very rare. Here, we see a copy of 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.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S., England retail  Price Range: $10 ~ $30

  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, pictured here in an original publicity still from the 1939 movie, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, co-starring Nigel Bruce and Ida Lupino. Original stills are scarce, particularly of Norwood and Wotner, but copies abound.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S., England retail  Price Range: $2 ~ $50

In February of 1994, Gibraltar issued eight commemorative crowns depicting scenes from Sherlock Holmes adventures. They were produced in both cupro-nickel and Sterling Silver by the Pobjoy Mint in England. These were issued to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the return of Sherlock Holmes, which took place April 5, 1894 in The Adventure of the Empty House (published in September, 1903). These crowns were attractively rendered, and are a minor challenge to accumulate all eight. They include renditions of The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Three Garridebs, The Final Problem, The Empty House, The Mary Celeste, 221B Baker Street, Holmes playing his Stradivarius violin, and a portrait of the detective, with Queen Elizabeth II gracing the reverse.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S., England retail  Set Price Range: $35 ~ $125

 
From 1958 through 1967, American Doctor Julian Wolff designed for Lord Donegall, the emminent British expert on Sherlockiana a series of Christmas cards with Sherlock Holmes references and maps adorning the outside and inside. The complete set is quite scarce and desirable.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S. retail  Set Price Range: $50 ~ $125

  A Study in Scarlet was Doyle's first story featuring Sherlock Holmes, and was initially published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Original copies of this issue are exceedingly rare, with 29 copies in existence of which nine are in private hands. One in fair condition sold at a Sotheby's auction in 2007 for a record $156,000. Facsimile editions (contemporary exact copies) are available, with approximately 600 numbered copies printed in 1960 and another 600 numbered copies issued during the centenary in 1987/1988. Some, like the facsimile copy illustrated were issued in protective slipcases.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, England retail  Facsimile Price Range:  $75 ~ $100

Pastiches, or satirical stylistic copies of Doyle's work are also popular collectibles. John Lennon of The Beatles wrote two small books, one of which, titled A Spaniard in the Works contained a parody on Arthur Conan Doyle's writing style. The story was called The Singularge Experience of Miss Ann Duffield, and was filled with the play-on-words style renowned in Lennon's later music. "Harrybellafonte, my dear Whopper." The book was released in both hardcover and softcover, with the 1965 1st edition hardcover commanding nearly $150+ in fine condition.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S., England retail  Price Range: $12 ~ $70

  Classics Illustrated produced abridged classic books in comic book format to help children appreciate early authors (and get though book reports). Begun in 1941, the publishers issued three comics featuring Sherlock Holmes; the July, 1944 (#22) issue featuring The Sign of Four, the January, 1947 (#33) issue titled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and the August, 1953 (#110) issue titled A Study in Scarlet. These are difficult to find, but are affordable for most in the mid-grade range.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: Auction, U.S. retail  Price Range: $35 ~ $250

Collier's in America was key in motivating Arthur Conan Doyle to bring Sherlock Holmes back to life. Doyle was offered and accepted a record $45,000 in 1903 (the equivalent of over $2 million today) to produce 13 short stories, which came to be known as the Return of Sherlock Holmes. These were published in this large format magazine beginning in September, 1903 and were illustrated by Fredric Dorr Steele. The stories were first released by Collier's, then shortly thereafter by the Strand Magazine. Issues are quite scarce in spite of the fact that many were saved by enthusiasts happy to see Holmes' return.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S. retail  Price Range: $155 ~ $275

  The Hound of the Baskervilles is Doyle's most famous novel of the detective. It was initially serialized in the Stand Magazine between August, 1901 and April, 1902, and was issued in a bound edition in March, 1902 by George Newnes, Ltd. A run of 25,000 copies of the first edition were produced in England. (The first American edition was published by McClure, Phillips & Co. in April, 1902 in an edition of 50,000 copies.) Due to its popularity, many subsequent editions were released through various publishers, but the one illustrated is considered the true first edition of the novel. Wear, tear, and repair have reduced the majority of those existing copies to below fine grade, but a few are still available (though seldomly) in exceptional condition, with the high price reflecting its state of preservation.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: Auction, U.S., England retail 1st Edition  Price Range: $2500 ~ $4500

Royal Mail postage stamps featuring Sherlock Holmes were released in October, 1993 in five 24p stamps representing five stories: The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Final Problem, The Reigate Squire, The Greek Interpreter and the Six Napoleons. (Hidden within each stamp was a letter from the author's last name.) First Day Covers were issued containing the five stamps which were cancelled on the day of issue. (Click here for what was contained within the cover.) These were subsequently reissued containing a Gibraltar crown as well.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, England retail  Price Range: $2 ~ $5

  Movie posters featuring Sherlock Holmes are also a popular collectible. Original posters on or printed for display in theaters of the day are rare and expensive, with some commanding tens of thousands of dollars. (The example displayed sold in a Heritage auction in 2007 for $31,000.) Some featured artistic renditions of Holmes, while others contained the stars of the day, either in color or more commonly, in black and white. Reprints are easily available and affordable through several online sources.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: Auction, U.S. retail  Price Range: $20 ~ $31,000

In 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 London Times' Radio Times TV magazine had a view of Holmes reading a copy of his first adventure with Sherlock Holmes' movie related articles within. 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, which issued an attractive full color centenary booklet.  
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, U.S., England retail  Price Range: $25 ~ $40


  By the late 1990s, Barbara Raheb of the Pennyweight Press had produced over 500 titles of micro-miniature books, among them the complete series of four books and 56 short stories starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. These are available, albeit rarely in a complete set housed in a miniature bookcase, or individually. 300 of each title were printed, and each is a complete adventure, remarkably covered in a gold stamped leatherette binding measuring less than an inch high. These are very nicely produced, and are an intriguing addition to a serious collection.
 Scarcity Level:  Sources: eBay, Auction, U.S. retail  Price Range: $125 ~ $300
 
         
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