Monday, February 17, 2014


Recently I've been pointed to a couple of opportunities to pick up some Sherlockian treasures by non-Sherlockian friends and had to say, "Thanks, but no thanks." In both cases, I stopped about thought, "Things would have been different when I was younger."

A younger me loved an opportunity to add one more object related to Sherlock Holmes to the collection. It wasn't just books, which either brought new tales or discussion of the detective, adding entertainment or knowledge. It was gee-gaws, statuary, art . . .  anything non-perishable, and occasionally something that was perishable, with some vain attempt to prolong its life.

Looking back now and trying to decipher the motivations of an earlier me, it seems to be part the magpie, part the totemic shaman. There was collecting just to be collecting, and then there was something of gathering the power of one's spirit animal through iconography.

Sherlock Holmes was definitely my spirit animal, in that way. Surely, if I possessed that Harry Potter magic that manifests a bright Patronus-creature made of light to ward away dark things during a time of trouble, that Patronus would look a lot like Sherlock Holmes.

The great Sherlockian shamans of our tribe always seemed to possess vast collections of Sherlock Holmes "power objects" back in the day. Probably still do, though I don't visit them as much to check. There was a measure of one's Sherlockian devotion in it, as silly and materialistic as that may sound.

These days, however, the game has changed. Relics of Sherlock Holmes are still gathered and valued. But there are new totems out there for the Sherlockian shaman to gather their power with . . . electronic items, all digital spirit and no form. GIFs, tweets, videos . . . some as ephemeral and hard to hold as can be. And yet there are great young Sherlockians of today with such things swirling around them in a display of mojo that seems just as powerful as the mighty collections of old.

Is there magic in collecting? Of one sort or another, or else I doubt we should do it. Something in the activity touches us in some old hunter-gatherer instinct we can barely put words to these days. But at some point, one can actually feel like one has done enough, and just like my inability to put my finger on the impulse itself, it's hard to nail down just why the impulse is gone.

Perhaps we can only hold so much magic. Then it's time to let some go.


  1. Also, if your're like me - you run out of space to display this stuff - and it is now too easy to find new items - in the past it was more of a hunt, now it is an avalanche! Still, can't help adding a book or three to the overstocked shelves.

    1. You are right about in the past it being a hunt, and now an avalanche. There seemed to be more reward when it took longer to acquire.

  2. When I traded my books to Don Hobbs and decided to specialize in photos and autographs, I figured there would be a bottom to this pit. Little did I realize the number of Holmes and Watson performers would grow at such an amazing pace, and with still more old discoveries also, go to infinity and beyond. My original want list based on the filmographies of the time was very short, I've even managed to obtain most of it. However, I now find my present want list still longer than the original, and growing! What's this Pauley Perrette of 'NCIS' wearing a deerstalker with a skull on it, and saying "Elementary, My dear Gibbs". Just another one, for the list that never ends.