I thought of this tonight as I pulled a random book down from myself, landing upon Client's Case-Notes edited by Brian R. MacDonald.
Published in 1983, the first thing you'll notice about it is the dust-jacket is actually glued together from two sheets of paper. And opening it up, you'll notice something else.
Somebody typeset this book on a typewriter and justified the margins! (I used a picture of Dana Richards's article, as he was one of those lovely regulars who graced The Holmes & Watson Report with regular content back in my print era.) And the mere fact that it's a hardbound book means someone spend some money on the binding of its 125 copy run.
Every detail of this book cries out "Somebody really wanted to publish a book!" to the knowing eye. Such things did not come easy back in 1983, before such modern miracles as household typesetting a child can do and 48 Hour Books. And despite the crass commercialization of the collectable market with chase items and "limited" runs designed to hit just the right price-point that we see these days, I think the best collectables will still come from a place of the heart.
Hand-binding, papercraft, and calligraphy still exist, and Sherlockians who will produce a run of 17 copies, 221 copies, or something in between just for their friends will probably still take place. Sherlockiana is not a field one spends much time in for profit . . . unless one counts "squee" as currency (or one of the less high-pitched expressions of delight, of course, for the easily-embarrassed). Because the best collections we have are the ones with memories attached, as memories are proven to be fueled by emotion.
Such items will actually carry a sense of that forward to an appreciative future owner in many cases, as with that Clients Case-Notes. I know I didn't lay hands on it in 1983 . . . or did I? . . . but just paging through it now and reading a few of its articles yields an echo of the pride those original Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis much have felt when this first hit their hands, after what was surely a long, hard journey into print.
And there is a certain beauty in that, one that keeps it on a collector's shelves, even now.
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