Monday, April 29, 2019

Finding Things By Not Looking For Them

One of the things I really enjoy doing is randomly flipping through the pages of publications from the Sherlock era. Having been in the hobby for some time means I can easily pick out Canonical words and terms from a page. Kind of like one's own name. My eyes are just drawn to them. Well, it happened again recently, and I want to show you what I found.

Back in 2012 I gave a talk at A Scintillation of Scions V that was a combination of several paper ideas I'd had. It was called 'Three Trite Problems' (I pride myself on my presentation titles) and it was about two ideas that really hadn't panned out, and then the main part (which was about evidence of the actual pawn shop where Holmes bought his Stradivarius.) One of the other two was about the possibility of someone at 221b being Catholic. The other was about coal tar derivatives. Neither went anywhere, and it was fun to get everyone worked up about them, and then see their faces when I admited we wouldn't be talking about them. Devious, I know. The main part I mentioned was something that is kind of similar to what I recently found and what we'll discuss here.

Google Books is one of my favorties sites. I always, yes always, have a tab open to it. I came across this serialized story called 'The Adventures of a Farce' in The Knickerbocker (or The New York Monthly Magazine) from 1871, and it contains some pretty cool things. The writer is unknown, but they seemed to channel a lot of terms that would be contained in some stories that would be published a couple of decades later.

Here's a list of those things:
There’s a reference to a Penang Lawyer.
One of the characters is a pipe smoker.
Cambridge is mentioned.
We find Bohemia, Shakespeare quotes, The London Times, and a Mr. Turner.
Someone named Hopkins is in there, one person is a doctor, the word Midland appears, as does the word Mendicant.
We also find a Tobias, and last but not least a Diogenes.
Oh, and did I mention that all of this takes place in London?

There may be more, but I don't have the strength to go through that story again. It's sooooo bad. You get the idea, though.

The way I found the story in the first place was when I was looking up 'Jew Pawnbroker Tottenham Court Road' in Google. You know, like the one in 'The Cardboard Box' (CARD). That's when the line "from a Jew broker in Tottenham Court Road" appeared. The actual line from CARD is "at a Jew Broker's in Tottenham Court Road." Now, come on. That's waaaaay too close to be nothing. But, there was no way to make a solid connection, so this had to remain just bizarre happenstance.

One a side note, I remember that I made my frustration about the pawnshop known in the paper with this:

So, on to my latest find. It was in The Illustrated London News from November 27, 1886. I was just scanning pages when a name caught my eye. I stopped, looked at it in a blinky-blinky way, and then saw something else. Then more. After scanning the whole page I had come across another Farce type thing.

Before we get to what I saw intially, I'll show you some other things from around the page. It's in three columns, and the first one (and part of the second) is about art exhibitions. There's nothing in there, unless you want to get silly. "Oh my gosh! There's the word 'the.' Holmes says 'the' in a lot of stories!" There are some words that do appear in The Canon, but nothing like what's in the other columns.

It was nice to see this name...

Another happy find was this classic Canonical conundrum, even though I am taking it out of context...

It was also very cool to see the name of the grandfather of noted Sherlockian scholar William S. Baring-Gould...

What I saw was what's in the first circle here. I found this article on Google Books, and the copy wasn't very good. Quite hard to read. So, I looked it up on British Newspaper Archives and found the bits I've used here. (It's soooo much clearer.) On Google Books I thought what I saw was the name 'Dr. Hill Barton' but it turned out to be Burton. Regardless, that's still really close. As I looked at it, somewhat astounded, I noticed the name in the third circle. Then, what was in the second. Very cool.

Now, I realize that this doesn't actually mean anything. These kinds of groupings are probably more common than I think, but in the past I've found them when looking through whole publications. Like Punch or The London Gazette. It's easy to go through one of them and collect many Canonical words and phrases. But when I find a tight little gathering of them I start wondering if they could possibly have anything to do with what we would see later on in The Sacred Writings.

Anyway, this is the kind of thing I look for. I wasn't expecting to find all of these in one spot, but I love that I did. It will help keep my fingers (proverbially) walking through old pages in the hopes something's there.

If you've ever come across something like this, let me know. I'd love to hear about it. Until then, I'll see you next time. And as always...thanks for reading.

Friday, April 12, 2019

1975 Was A Very Good Year!

This month's Great Historical Collection Reduction giveaway is a gorgeous four-volume set of books that were printed in 1975. The excitement around these was immediate, and there have already been a couple of dozen folks who've sent in the right answer to the trivia question (which will be at the bottom of this post).

When I went to examine the books it occurred to me that two of them hadn't been opened in a long time. The spines were resistant. Heck, they might not have ever been opened. One was a little less resistant, and the fourth was a bit easier. There are no marks, damage, or wear to the pages inside. They are perfect. The outsides are excellent, but not perfect. The first picture I took of them was in my office in low light. The flash went off, and what it captured was the surface wear that is basically invisible to the naked eye. I'm including it even though it isn't a true representation of what the books look like.

You can see some of the wear spots where the books were slid off a shelf from between themselves or other books. The covers are not perfect, but they are in excellent shape. The picture I used on Facebook is a more correct shot for what one sees when looking at the books in real light. It also shows the color better.

The spines on them are immaculate. They really pop.

As I said, the books are from 1975. I don't believe a reprint was ever done as all the ones I found online were from 1975. (They were also being sold as a set for prices from about 25 bucks to 50.) Here's a shot of the date page, even though it's a terrible picture.

So, there you have it. This month's giveaway would make handsome additions to your editions.

The trivia question this month is:

Name the stories where 'scrap-books' are mentioned.

(Now, that includes 'scrap-books' and 'scrapbooks.')
Make sure to send me your answer(s) on Messenger or by email at [email protected] I am happy to answer any questions about the books, so ask away. Also, don't forget that I will include a little something in the shipment. Could be anything, but it will be Sherlockian. Good luck!

I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Best. Dayton. Conference. Ever!

Last weekend I attended a gathering of Sherlockians known as Holmes, Doyle, and Friends (HD&F). This was the 6th such gathering since it took that name and had a re-birth of sorts. In 1981 it began as The Arthur Conan Doyle Symposium, and held that name for a very long time. (In fact, when I moved to Indianapolis in 1996, I found a t-shirt at a thrift store from the conference from the early 1990's. I wish I still had it, but I literally wore it out.) After a number of rocky years, it was given a new chance to shine, and it hasn't disappointed. This year's was the best yet, and I want to tell you all about it.

In order to bore you right up front, I'll tell you that my drive out on Friday to attend the reception was wonderful. I believe it was the first time I'd ever driven to Dayton with no construction slowing everything down. I turned on Sirius/XM's Elvis Channel, grabbed a tasty beverage, and had a wonderful afternoon drive. Upon arrival I had a quick bite and discovered a slight problem with my hotel room. Once corrected, I headed to the reception to see a lot of familiar and friendly faces. After the party I headed back to my room to pratice my presentation one last time, and hit the sack.

(Photo by Steven Doyle)

Breakfast had, I checked in at the conference, found a good seat, and did some chit-chatting. Dealers of all sorts of things Sherlockian encircled the large room, and people mingled and bought. At 10 a.m. it was time for the speakers to take the stage. Dan Andriacco, the ring-master for the Dayton events, introduced the first speaker - Bob Katz. Bob gave (from memory) a talk about how there's some proof that John Watson was a drummer boy in the Civil War. (I had just met Bob the night before, and he is a very nice gentleman. Oh, and he mentioned me in his talk. Helped how much I like him a lot!)

(Photo by Jacquelynn Bost Morris)

Next up was Susan Bailey. This lady is one of the most genuine people I've ever met, and she has become one of the foremost researchers in the Sherlockian galaxy in the last few years. She gave a frank talk about the real-life inspiration for Tonga from The Sign of [the] Four (SIGN). Here's a shot of her with yours truly. (I didn't have time to smile.)

(Photo by Steven Doyle)

Ann Margaret Lewis was up next, and she took us through one of the lesser-discussed points in The Canon - the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus. She explained what everything was, and we even got to hear examples of the music that is being referred to. (Motets are defined as a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied. Lassus was a composer.)

(Photo by Marcy Mahle)

The inimitable Scott Monty was behind the mic next. He gave a hilarious talk about brand names in The Canon. It's amazing how many he found, and he had us in stitches.

(Photo by Jacquelynn Bost Morris)

After Scott was teacher Susan Neihart Carlisle. She gave us a peek into her Tennessee classroom, and her teaching style. It's heavily Sherlockian, and she uses The Canon and Holmes's methods in her teaching. It was an amazing talk, and one that got a hearty round of applause.

(Photo by unknown)

Jeffrey Marks then took the mic to give us a look into the life of eminent Sherlockian Anthony Boucher. A nice addition was the part about the Rathbone/Bruce radio plays. Some fascinating info came out of that talk that I may use at a later date.

(Photo by Marcy Mahle)

I was next on the program, and I got to give a repeat of a talk from five years before titled 'Around the World in 63,540 Days.' It's a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meets Connections (the James Burke show) kind of thing. It's so much fun to give, and it really gets a lot of laughs from the audience. I was so pleased with the reception of it, and can only hope I get to expand upon the idea some day. (The 63,540 day spread is basically the number of days between the earliest and latest events in the talk.)

(Photo by Jacquelynn Bost Morris)

Finishing out the day was Regina Stinson. Regina is an amazing Sherlockian who runs her own club in Detroit. Her talk was a chronological look at the Holmes filmography. She mixed in some clips, and had some opinions to give about some of the really bad movies out there. It was the perfect presentation to end the day.

(Photo by Jacquelynn Bost Morris)

The whole thing is a mixed effort by a number of people, all belonging to a scion society named The Agra Treasurers from Dayton, OH. They truly do an amazing job. This year saw a record crowd, and I understand that next year is going to be even bigger.

For those of us who continued to attend even when things were less than wonderful, this is a true pleasure. It's such a midwest institution for we faithful, and it was necessary to keep going to make sure it didn't go away completely. What we've all got to experience for the last few years has been the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of great people. I offer my congratulations, and am really looking forward to next year.

(On a side note, I was listed on the program as a BSI member. I don't bring this up to embarrass anyone, it was just a mistake. However, a number of people have contacted me about it and asked when that happened. Well, it hasn't. I'm not a BSI member. Just wanted to clear that up.)

(Photo by Jacquelynn Bost Morris)

So, if you can fit it into your calendar, make plans to attend this event next year. It will fill up quickly, so keep an eye out for announcements about it on Facebook. It promises to be another great conference, and you'll have a great time. Anyway, I'll see you next time (on here), and as always...thanks for reading.