Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The real secret to collecting Sherlockiana

In contemplating a bust of Sherlock Holmes (As all Sherlockians are wont to do, right?) this evening, I came upon a revelation about collecting Sherlockiana. The real secret to gathering a really nice collection of Sherlockiana is this:

Try really hard not to die.

Live long enough and every piece of Sherlockiana in your collection eventually becomes an antique. Buy something at Barnes & Noble when you're sixteen that never gets reprinted, and when you get to age sixty-six, you own a fifty-year-old book that most won't have at that point. Pick up something created by an artist at a dealer's table, a privately printed book, something more rare than the Barnes & Noble find. Get the elder Sherlockian from across town to sign a little something, and eventually, that too, becomes a little bit of history in your collection.

Nobody with a grand Sherlockian collection filling their shelves today just had a truck back up to their house and picked it all up at once. Boomers might have had antique mall bargains, but they didn't have the long-distance connections, and, basically, opportunities arise over the course of any lifetime.

Some of those opportunities still haunt me, like that near-complete run of individual copies of The Strand Magazine in a Boulder bookshop that I only decided to buy one issue from.  Some last-day-of-Bounchercon half-priced Sherlockian classics from a dealer anxious not to ship them home, that I only bought a fraction of. Didn't want to run up a charge bill, in both of those cases, but years later, one wonders what the harm would have been.

The best pieces are still the ones that come with a memory attached, though. The gift from a certain Sherlockian friend. The amazing find in that one old bookshop. The deal I did get at another con.

Things pile up over time, and eventually you have a collection. It's almost like you'd have to fight not to have a collection as the decades pass. In fact, I really think that it would require an incredible amount of self-discipline to lead an active Sherlockian life and not wind up some manner of collection. But good luck with that.

As I said at the start, the best collecting scheme is just to take care of yourself. Live long and prosper, as Vulcans advise.  And since that's something your fellow Sherlockians would rather you did anyway, hey! Win-win!

1 comment:

  1. Started when I was twelve. When my books reached almost 12 (!) I started listing them on index cards. Smart kid ... now I don't know HOW MANY I have! (And SOME might be worth something!)