Okay, maybe Sherlopping isn't the best phrase for Sherlockian shopping. But nowhere is a better place for it, whatever you call it, than an antique mall. The mix of collectibles and actual period pieces from Holmes's time that one finds in the varied stalls of a good antique mall just can't be beat. And even though I'm trying to resist adding any more physical objects to the too-full confines of stately Sherlock Peoria Manor, running across such a place off the beaten path in El Paso (Illinois) today just couldn't be resisted.
Almost immediately upon entering, I saw a copy of Ron DeWaal's The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes in a glass case. As I've already got a couple copies of that one, I didn't even have the case opened to check the price. And besides, the real treats in the antique mall are the things that don't say "Sherlock Holmes" on the front.
Like a very old brass microscope, that looked exactly like something Holmes would have used, whether or not it was of Victorian vintage. ($300 . . . a bit out of my price range today.)
A wooden crate that once contained bottles of White Rock should hold interest for any member of the Baker Street Irregulars of New York who has read the Buy-laws was something you don't often see in Illinois, and was rather tempting at $35. But there's that whole space issue. It's a crate. A small crate, but a crate.
And then there was the 1910 printing of A Wanderer in London by E.V. Lucas with a soft black cover like a Bible . . . any view of London in Holmes's pre-war era is a worthwhile find, and at $7, the price had to be right this time, right?
Well, as I said before, I've become very careful about what I take in these days. And I found myself much more enchanted by 1913's The story of Crisco. Think about that for a second. Crisco was introduced in the United States in 1911. Sherlock Holmes came to America shortly after. The thought of Sherlock Holmes using Crisco vegetable shortening is just . . . .
Well, about as silly as the word "Sherlopping." But there it is.
You never know what you'll find at the antique mall.