7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 5


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Christmas, 1885


What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received? Santa’s “Norbury,” as it were?

For me, it was two pair of striped socks–one green and yellow, the other, black and orange, from my grandmother when I was 12. I had reached the age where I knew there was no Santa, I no longer played with toys, and, like many adolescents (I’d be 13 in a few weeks) expected for people to somehow “know” me. The socks were a perfectly reasonable gift–and I wore the green and yellow ones quite a bit once I got over myself–the problem was never with them, only with me.

That being said, some gifts are truly awful, even in Victorian England. While many  people were unwrapping candy, tea in pretty containers, bottles of liquor or wine, fine tobacco, gloves, or even jewelry or watches, some unfortunates found these in their stockings on Christmas, 1885:

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Although, to be honest, children were probably thrilled. I’m thinking more of the parents.

I have to wonder if Holmes or Watson ever thought of one of these–to give Mrs. Hudson a little fright….

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Ok, that is just cruel. One hopes they were only “warranted” to play for a few days.

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If only a certain doctor had stuck to these….

These ads were all screen-shot from Ally Sloper’s Half Christmas Holiday, the Christmas edition of Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday, the first comics magazine featuring one character–“Ally Sloper,” a lazy man who spent a good deal of time hiding from his creditors. It was very popular in its late Victorian heyday, although, looking through it, I have to say that much of its humor is beyond me.

There are a few bad–even wicked–gifts mentioned in the Canon. Can you name two? And how about the giver, and the recipient? Send your answers in and hopefully you’ll find this gift a little more to your liking….

Like the items above, it is a bit of a mixed bag–but a good one, I hope!


There is a tote bag, a big green notebook, a small yellow notebook, a pair of socks and a finger puppet. So if your stocking was lacking in Holmes this year, send your answer to the above question in via blog comment, or FB message!

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Jim McArthur is the winner of the BSJ subscription!  The answer, to quote Holmes himself, in “The Problem of Thor Bridge”: “There is little to share, but we may discuss it when you have consumed the two hard-boiled eggs with which our new cook has favored us. Their condition may not be unconnected with the copy of the Family Herald which I observed yesterday upon the hall-table. Even so trivial a matter as cooking an egg demands an attention which is conscious of the passage of time and incompatible with the love romance in that excellent periodical.”

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