A few days a Sherlockian request came from Ted Cowell on Facebook . . . which is odd in itself, as I have rare few Sherlockians on my Facebook roster, seeking to keep some mystery in life. Ted's request was both simple and, at the same time, a bit of a challenge. For what he wanted was this:
A handwritten letter to Mr. Sherlock Holmes, as might have been transfixed to the great detective's mantelpiece with a jack-knife.
Easy enough sounding, isn't it? Handwriting is not yet such a lost art that we can't all do it, and sending that letter off in another envelope to Ted via snail mail is still workable enough to most of us.
And yet, consider it for a moment. A piece of unanswered correspondence that seemed worthy of sticking to the mantel for future consideration by Sherlock Holmes.
What date would the letter have? What sort of paper would be used by the writer you had chosen to have sent such a letter? Known Canonical character or new creation? Indeed, one could spend a long, lazy day just pondering such trivial matters and finding just the right, and most appropriate tale for one's letter to tell.
Unfortunately, my time was very short this week, so the letter I came up with was the mystery at the other end of a mystery . . . which short-circuited many of the detail questions I had, just by the very nature of the person involved. What if their situation had them unsure as to the actual date? What if some detail of their stationery added to that puzzle upon close examination? And what if the situation was such that Sherlock Holmes would not be able to take immediate action, due to some factor?
I've always been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes artifact, and it was great fun to try to create one, even if time might not have allowed me to put as much thought into it as I would have liked. And mantelpiece letters are a simple and fun thing that might even make a good activity for a Holmes society club night, in the right company.
My contribution to Ted's letter pile goes out tomorrow, but that is one idea I'll have to file away for use at another time as well.