Seeing Sherlock Holmes used to promote some product or another is nothing new. And getting word of a Sherlockian creating a small batch of some product honoring the great detective always brings a smile. Of course, one small detail can sometimes turn something pleasant into . . . something maybe not so agreeable.
When 221B Cellars decided to put out A Study in Scarlet, their first limited "first edition" wine, and sent out some nice little cards to announce same, they covered all the bases. Picture of Beeton's Christmas Annual, check. Note from Sherlock Holmes with fake quotables ("I have always found that people confuse and wine clarifies."), check. Small card announcing that a portion of the proceeds go to the University of Minnesota Sherlock Holmes Collections and the Napa Valley Napoleons, check. (Though I never thought of a scion society as a place for donated proceeds before, but, hey, I suppose it's bringing Sherlock to the wine-drunk unSherlocked of Napa or something.)
But then, on the very back of the advertising card, I found "Licensed by The Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. All 221B Cellars TM wines are produced and sold under a license with the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. We extend grateful acknowledgement to Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. for permission to use the Sherlock Holmes characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
Suddenly the nice little Sherlock Holmes wine turned political. I would guess that 221B Cellars set up their promo card before the "Free Sherlock" movement began and aren't rabid supporters of The Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. and their right to bully anyone using Sherlock Holmes in their own endeavors. The wine-makers apparently aren't too concerned with profits, after donating portions of their proceeds to the U of M, a scion, and The Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. They're just trying to do the right thing, but unfortunately, The Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. uses that right impulse as a means of money-making.
After delighting in Cara McGee's Sherlock Holmes blends of Adagio teas, I wasn't at all opposed to a little wine love for Sherlock from 221B Cellars. But that kissing up to The Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. on the back of their promo card really didn't do them any favors. As the lawsuit to free Sherlock Holmes moves forward, some entities may still want to pay the demands of The Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. just to stay in the clear. I can understand playing it safe. Being a rebel isn't for everyone, especially where it involves the legal system. But they may want to downplay their connection to that entity until it can prove its authority in court.
It sure doesn't make me feel all Sherlock-happy to associate it with anything, and I know I'm not alone.