Ok, let’s just stop for a minute and think about how cool it is to have our own special holiday. All over social media this morning, I see people doing little (or not so little) things in celebration of the 164th anniversary of the birth of the World’s First and Greatest Consulting Detective. At our house, I typically bake a cake (or buy one), and bring out the little Sherlock Holmes action figure (a gift from my great friend, co-author, and fellow Holmesian blogger, Jaime N. Mahoney) so that he can supervise. Note that he is still in his packaging. I just can’t bear to open it.
Others are hanging out special flags, drawing awesome birthday cartoons, binge-watching favorite film versions, adding to their Sherlockian collections, and, of course re-reading their favorite Canon stories. Last year, I actually had the privilege of being able to celebrate THE Birthday at my very first Baker Street Irregulars Dinner during BSI Weekend in New York City. The dinner is by invitation only, and I was utterly thrilled. My family went to NYC with me, and we had a wonderful weekend, so much so that, although I was not invited to the dinner this year, we’re still going for the Weekend itself (next week)–if you can ever do this yourself, you should, and I would love to meet you.
Because we always end this Giveaway on such a special day, I try to make the final, “Grand Prize” as special as I possibly can. I try to imagine what someone might consider a high point of their Sherlockian collection, or what might deepen their knowledge or attachment to the Canon and Sherlockian life in general. So far, I think, this prize has been subscriptions to the Baker Street Journal and, at least twice, nice bound copies of The Strand Magazine. I have, for a few years, considered the possibility of putting up an autograph, but have been prevented each time by a couple of considerations. First, cost: the market for the most universally desirable autographs is crazy! Second, and most important, is authenticity. I actually have a few Sherlockian autographs, and while I am fairly sure they are genuine, I cannot be sure. For example, I accidentally bought two Benedict Cumberbatch autographs on eBay several years back. I bid on two, thinking I’d be lucky to get one. I won the first, and then, since you can’t rescind your bids, watched the second auction, hoping someone would jump in and “save” me. Nope. I now have two. Let’s be honest here. I’ve seen a lot of Cumberbatch signatures online, and while I am fairly certain one is definitely genuine, I have some slight doubts about the other. I am also fairly certain about my “Herbert Kelcey,” simply because I don’t know why anyone would be faking his signature in 2014 (the year I bought it). But I cannot be sure. I wasn’t there for any of them. It’s one thing for me to buy a potential forgery and hang it on my wall. It’s quite another for me to send one out to people who trust me, accidentally or not. Case in point: two years ago, I saw a Basil Rathbone autograph listed on eBay for $77.00 GUYS. YOU NEVER SEE A BASIL RATHBONE AUTOGRAPH FOR LESS THAN $300-$400, AND THAT’S CHEAP. (This is why I don’t have one). I was so excited. I nearly pulled the trigger on it for the Grand Prize that year. But I kept looking at it, and comparing it to known Basil signatures, and something was off. You can often tell when it’s the same person writing quickly, or writing at different times in life, so I thought about that, but something still didn’t look right. And the price was dodgy. Really, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see that you can make true bank on a Basil autograph, so why would someone sell it so cheaply? On the advice of friends, I sent a link to a Rathbone aficionado, who advised me to pass. To this day, I am grateful for his help.
I’m sure you know what is coming. It’s not Basil, though. And, sorry, it’s not Jeremy Brett (also pricey). It is, however, someone almost as good…
I am so thrilled to be able to present:
William Gillette autograph prices vary widely, and his very distinctive writing and autograph style makes its easier to be sure when it’s him, and when it’s not. He also had the habit of adding dates and places to his autographs, which makes him a bit of an autograph-hunter’s dream.
And was William Gillette in Syracuse on November 7, 1903?
Why yes, yes he was…..
We live in an amazing time, people. And while I may never be able to offer something like this again, I’m happy to be able to do it now.
Unfortunately, the rules declare that you need to work for it, so here’s the quote:
“The only official consulting detective,” he answered. “I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection. When Gregson or Lestrade or Athelney Jones are out of their depths–which, by the way, is their normal state–the matter is laid before me. I examine the data, as an expert, and pronounce a specialist’s opinion. I claim no credit in such cases. My name figures in no newspaper. The work itself, the pleasure of finding a field for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward.”
As always, to enter the drawing, please send your answers via blog comment or message on the Well-Read Sherlockian FaceBook page. Please note– BECAUSE TOMORROW IS SUNDAY AND MY SUNDAYS ARE CRAZY, THE DRAWING WON’T TAKE PLACE UNTIL LATE TOMORROW EVENING. THIS ALSO GIVES PEOPLE PLENTY OF TIME TO ENTER.
Day 13 Winner!!!!
Congratulations to our second 2-time winner, Shalom Bresticker! The quote came from “A Study in Scarlet.”