Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Hansom Club Club

Back in the day, I was a weekly contributor to SherlockPeoria. Brad Keefauver and I did some crazy things in the name of Sherlock Holmes during our 10 years together. One of the pawkiest things we did was creating the Hansom Clock Club: A Scion Society of SherlockPeoria. Brad changed direction several years ago and took SP to strictly a blog and it can still be read at

The idea behind The Hansom Clock Club is simple. Anyone who owns one of those cheesy clocks sold via the Sears Christmas Catalog back in 1967 can become a member. All that is required is to send me a close-up picture of clock and you are a member. The one rule is if the clock is not running, set the hands to 2:21 before taking the picture.

The 1967 Sear Christmas Catalog

The current membership is twenty-two but  there was a 10% jump in membership this week alone. We were holding steady at  twenty members but then two new Sherlockians sent along pictures this week. Congratulations to Monica Schmidt and Al Shaw, members #021 and #022 respectively. I fully believe many members do not know they are members. To that extent, I also believe there are Sherlockians that qualify for membership but do not realize that the Hansom Clock Club exists. Hopefully after this blog hits the Internet, our massive readership (at least seven people) will spread the word.

I am waiting for the huge surge before I head off to the printer for new membership cards. It is at least seventeen-steps down my staircase to my kitchen where the printer is located.

Page 124 Sears 1967 Christmas Catalog
If anyone still has their 1967 Sear Christmas Catalog, please turn to page 124 on the right hand side of the page, near the bottom and read all about the Hansom Clock, listed there for a whopping $19.99 plus shipping and handling. If this is not a viable option, I would suggest logging onto eBay. Currently there are 8 listed ranging in price from $39.95 to $149.00.

Happy Collecting!!

Original Shipping Box


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sherlocking in Estonia

Estonian Coat of Arms
Estonia is a small Baltic country that has the distinction of being the first of the Soviet Republics to declare its independence. The Republic of Estonia was re-established on August 21, 1991, not too bad of an accomplishment for a country of about 1,300,000 inhabitants. To go along with the country's David vs. Goliath reputation, they also garner a great literary tradition. However, if any Sherlockian were to read and believe Ronald B. De Waal's The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes (New York Graphic Society; March 24, 1975), they would not be so enthused. According to Mr. De Waal, Estonia only published a single translation of the Canon.

I am writing today to set the record straight. The census I have regarding Estonian translations of the Canon sits at 45 editions. The one edition listed in De Waal is Baskerville'ide koer (Eesti raamat, 1973), C2692. In a letter I received from the Estonian National Library, dated June 23, 1989 (before their independence), one of their librarians list 40 editions and 34 of those were canonical. The earliest editions I found were Mõrtsukatöö Boscombe orus (Postimees, 1895), obviously "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" - Läbi akna ehk saladusline tuba (Dreimann, 1896). They were published nearly 80 years earlier than the De Waal entry. He is not to be blamed because his massively impressive work was compilied long before the luxury of having the Internet to do all of the heavy lifting. There are other editions from 1898, 1900, 1906, and 1907.

Viis apelsiniseemet: Kriminaaljutustus
I am particularly fond of a 1938 set of booklets published in Tartu by the publisher J. Mällos. Each volume includes a single canonical story. Luckily I have all five of them in my collection. The stories are FIVE; YELL; SPEC; CROO; and BERY. All of the booklets feature a monochrome front cover but not in the standard black, gray, and white.  No indeed. Every booklet features various shades of red or orange or sepia. Each cover speaks volumes while reflecting a minimalistic attitude. Maybe they were some kind of Soviet area subtle propaganda. Regardless of any overt or subversive meaning they are still some of my favorite from any language.

There are other editions published in the 1940's that feature covers that are reflective of the Hollywood glamor photographs of the time. There is a gap where nothing was published in the 1950's or 1960's. The previously mentioned HOUN from 1973 seems to be the first resurgence of Holmes publications. After this one was published, many others followed. The most recent one came out in 2010. Sherlock Holmesi lühijutud (Kirjastus Varrak, 2010) is a collection of all of the short stories, weighing in at nearly 800 pages.

Estonia offers a vast array of old, new, and interesting translations of the Canon and with a little digging and Sherlocking, you too can have a collection of books you cannot read.

Happy Collecting!

Kollane nägu: Kriminaaljutustus               Täpiline pael: Kriminaaljutustus
                   (YELL)                                                           (SPEC)

Salapärane Mees: Kriminaaljutustus          Berüllidest kroon: krimianaalroman
                  (CROO)                                                             (BERY)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Inspector Lestrade Is Back

The first thing to go is one's memory, or so I've heard. I have so many passwords that I cannot remember them all. That is exactly what happened with this blog. After I created the last post, I changed jobs, changed computers, changed iPads, changed iPhones, well you get the picture.

Every device requires a password. One 65 year old brain and a dozen or so places that need a password. I simply forgot my Gmail password. During the BSI Weekend last week, one of the three or so readers of my blog asked when I was going to do a new post. It has only been about 1 1/2 years since the last one. So here is the first "new" post in a long, long time. I hope to get back into the swing of things in the coming year. Only time will tell.

Happy collecting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hungry for Hungarian

Sherlock Holmes emlékiratai: Bünügyi
 -1974 -DW- C-3124.
I once bought a Hungarian Sherlock Holmes edition on eBay. It was a relatively new book, nothing out of the ordinary. The seller was prompt on delivery and accurate on the book's description. At the time, I owned about a dozen Hungarian titles. Not long after I bought the volume, the seller contacted me directly about another Hungarian tome he wanted to sell.  I have used eBay for nearly twenty years and I know there are rules against such direct contact between buyers and sellers, so I did the All-American thing - I bought the offered edition!

This was the beginning of a marvelous partnership with the seller resulting in more than fifty Hungarian titles being added to my collection.  

One of the areas of foreign language collecting is the volumes in a particular language with a specific story and its corresponding text in English. There are many such editions. I have Spanish and English, German and English, French and English and several other languages and English. One of the early ones I bought from Gergely, my Hungarian connection, is Hungarian and German! It  was one of a four-volume set. Over the course of time, I have added the other three  to my collection. I also have one that is Hungarian and English. Still, these are the only languages I have seen that English is not the second language.

Sherlock Holmes’ Krimminalfälle
1990 - Hungarian-German "YELL"
At first the items offered were mainly form the 1980's and 1990's. Soon they started getting older and much more interesting. One of the first ones to really catch my eye was from 1905. Egy család réme: Regény. Sherlock Holmes visszzatérte. A norfolki gyilkosság was published by M. Keresk. Közlöny, Globus'ny and includes HOUN, SIXN, and DANC.  It is listed in De Waal's - C3190. The cover is outstanding featuring a young lady with a floral motif around her oval portrait. Soon A sátán kutyája (HOUN) was offered. This 1918 publication is the most reptilian looking creature I have ever seen. Another cover from 1916 features Holmes wearing a Bowler hat but he looks exactly like Jeremy Brett. It is eerie. This book, Az üldözö "A Study in Scarlet," was published in 1916 by Milliók könyve.

Some of the books are illustrated by Irde Földes, a famous Hungarian illustrated from the early twentieth century. He started his career as a lithographer. He studied at the Iparrajziskola and in the Mintarajztanoda (major art schools in Pest at the time), later he visited München, Berlin and Paris. Besides being a leading figure in poster art, he was a painter and a graphic artist as well. He exhibited his artworks frequently in Budapest, he participated in the Nemzeti Szalon (National Salon) for instance. Starting from the 1910s, his posters overwhelmed the streets of Budapest. Between 1918 and 1919, he opened a design studio with Lipót Sátori, and they collaborated on many poster designs. During the First World Warhe created film, commercial and propaganda posters, and he made one work for the Hungarian Soviet Republic as well. After the war he designed political posters for several parties (most of them depicting Hungary's borders before the Treaty of Trianon). From the 1920s on he lived in Transylvania and his posters rarely appeared on the streets in Hungary.
A nábob kincse  -1916 
Cover illustrated by Irde Földes

Other editions came from Hungary's most famous Doylean collector, Mr. Ferenc Pap. He lived in a small town (but a long name) called Kiskundorozsma. He collected mostly pulp editions and he had a large Conan Doyle collection of early Hungarian ones. There have been more than one-hundred different Hungarian translations of the Canon. With Gergley's help, I am slowly adding almost all of them to my collection.

Egy család réme: Regény.
Sherlock Holmes
visszzatérte. A norfolki
The first Hungarian translation was published 1897 by Singer and Wolfner kiádasa. Az üldözö  (A Study in Scarlet) was published in Budapest and translated by Fái J. Béla. The next translation was not until 1902 by Lampel, Wodianer ny, a publishing house in Budapest. They published several titles in both hardcover and softcover. Many of the titles were the same, Doktor Holmes kalandjai: Detektivtörténetek (The Adventures of Dr. Holmes: Detective Series) but with each volume containing different stories. The hardcover edition features a bright red cloth-covered board while the softcover editions were small (3 1/2" x 5"). 
Az üldözö  1916

From the covers shown here, one can easily see why I am hungry for Hungarian translations of the Canon. These are just a small sampling of the ones that adorn my shelves. The latest one that is still in transit is a 1922 pulp edition of The Tragedy of Koosko. The reason I bought it was it also includes "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" and it has another very interesting cover. I can’t  wait but I guess I will have to wait.

Happy Blogging!
A sátán kutyája 1918

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Japanese Visit -March 17-24, 2015

More than a year ago Masamichi "Mitch" Higurashi invited me to speak at the Japanese Sherlock Holmes Club in Tokyo. I graciously accepted and began preparations. Other than a brief over night stay at Narita Airport, this is my first trip to Japan. 

The flight is 12 1/2 hours direct from Dallas to Tokyo and it was completely unremarkable - the way I like my flights. As I touched down, I had a moment of panic. Mitch had agreed to pick me up and had made all of my arrangements for the week, I realized that I was not privy to this information and wondered what I would do if for some reason Mich failed to appear. Not to worry, Mitch was waiting just outside of security. He was there with Kiyoshi Arai, who received his investiture in the BSI in January as Sho-in Near Nara. This was a pleasant bonus. Many happy greetings and gifts were exchanged, coffee drank and then the hour or so drive into Tokyo proper.

Masamichi (Mitch) Higurashi, me, and Kiyoshi Arai at Narita.

Tokyo is an amazing city. It covers a vast area but it is very clean and easily navigated. Mitch's GPS, in her cute little Japanese voice, guided us expertly to the parking garage of the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont. This would be my home the entire time I was in Tokyo. We did travel by bullet train the next day to Kyoto but returned to our Tokyo base the next night.

Kyoto, formerly the Imperial City of Japan is located on the island of Honshu. It is nicknamed the City of Ten-Thousand Shrines but we only visited nine-thousand and ninety-one. At the Tokyo Station, we were met by Takahiko Wakabayshi and his wife Harumi.We were also joined by Yumiko Shigaki. All were Sherlockians. The bullet train ride took just over an hour. We arrived and ate lunch before heading out to explore the city.
Don, Harumi, Takahiko, Mitch, Yumiko

Our first stop was Kinkaku, or the Golden Pavilion part of a large complex dating back to the fourteenth century. Another stop was the Zen temple Ryōan-ji, The Temple of the Dragon at Peace. It is considered one of the (if not the) finest surviving examples of Kare-sansui (dry landscape). The fifteen rocks placed inside a small rectangle of white pebbles, raked in between, offers infinite tranquility and possibilities to the observer. Not every stop fulfilled the spiritual realm some were simply for the spirit realm, as was the case when we visited the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. Here we were shown the complete process of making sake and given samples at the tour's end. We explored many more areas but late Friday night boarded the train back to Tokyo.

Saturday morning the conference began. 

For more than twenty years, I have traded books with Takahiko Endo but never met him. 
Takahiko Endo and Don
So at the beginning of the conference, six Japanese Sherlockians lined up in the front of all of the attendees and I was asked to pick out Takahiko. To the pleasure of all, I made the correct choice. The first presentation was by Hiroko Nakashima. She spoke on and showed photographs of 'The Alpine Adventure from Septermber 26-28, 2014'. It was sort of like a homecoming. I saw pictures of many Sherlockian friends like Michael Meer, Marcus Gassner, and Peter Blau. Of course, Hiroku spoke in Japanese, but her photographs were in "English". She has a wonderful eye for taking pictures and later she presented be with three booklets of her exquisite photographs.

I was seated next to Yaeko Amano and she served as my interpreter. She was a God-Sent . After lunch, it was my turn to present. I gave a Power Point titled '101 Damnation's' that featured slides of 101 different foreign covers of the Hound of the Baskervilles and commentary on each. I received laughs at all of the appropriate places and everyone seemed to enjoy the show. The Japanese are extremely polite and many asked permission to take photographs with me afterwards. They are also so very gracious. I was given many, many gifts. I was so honored to be there, I should have been giving all of the gifts.

(Clockwise) Don, Yaeko, Harumi. Takahiko Wakabayshi,
Unknown, Kiyoshi, Yuichi Hirayama, Eiichi Nakahara,
Takahiko Endo.
Many of my new best friends and plenty of my old best friends ventured out to a small traditional Japanese restaurant for dinner. I got to experience Japan like a local, not like a tourist. The beer and sake flowed freely until it was time to stagger back to our hotel. Sunday was the day of my main presentation and being hung-over was a great way to present.

My dear friends Joan Proubasta and his wife Rosa Diaz along with their daughter Marta, Rosa's brother Miguel Diaz, his wife Myriem Sampere and their daughter Adriana were all there on Sunday. Joan's talk began the 74th Japanese Sherlock Holmes Club's meeting. I did not have an interpreter seated with me on Sunday but Joan's presentation was in Spanish so I gathered in bits and pieces of it, better than I could of it had been in Japanese.
Joan Proubasta, Don Rosa Diaz
Once again, the Japanese treated me like royalty and showered me with presents. In total, I ended up with more than sixty new books for my collection. So many that I had to get Mitch to mail them to me at no-telling the cost.

As on Saturday, my talk was after lunch. Mitch made slides so the audience could follow along. 'The Collecting Mania' was my talk I gave the first paragraph in Japanese. I did apologize to the audience for butchering their language. They were gracious as usual and did not throw things at me. The final presentation was given by Kiyoshi Arai, BSI - "History of Immigration of the Canon to Japan Featuring the Centennial of The Valley of Fear Publication.'

There was dinner following the meeting on a top floor restaurant over looking Tokyo. It was a marvelous view but the festivities of the evening far exceeded the view out the window. Five long table seating nearly a dozen Sherlockian each makes for a wonderful night, especially once the sake started finding it's way to everyone.
Hiroko and Don

Keits Yamaguch and Don
More revelers
I found it very funny as the night wore on, everyone started giving the 'Peace Symbol" when their pictures were taken. People were sneaking into other people's pictures and really letting their hair down. The normally reserve Japanese can party as loud as anyone.

I was amazed walking into the restaurant because entering the room, everyone stood and cheered for me. It was like having rock star status. During the two days of the conferences, I received about a dozen new friend requests on Facebook and accepted them all. Now I spend a lot of time using the Facebook translation service.

My cheeks literally ached from laughing so much. That is the trouble with sake it goes down easy and makes me laugh.

Sherlock Holmes Pub
On my final day day, Monday, Mitch took me to the Sherlock Holmes Pub and then we came back to the section of Tokyo that sells used books. Believe it or not, I managed to buy a few items before heading back to our hotel. Mitch's wife Mayuko joined us for the day and for dinner, my new best friend Hiroko Nakashima also joined us. We had a very tradition Japanese meal where I ate raw horse meat for the fist time, and no, it did not taste like chicken.
Hiroko feeding me raw horse. Yum!

And in the blink of an eye, my week in Japan was over. I left on Tuesday morning but not before vowing to return. There is still plenty of unfinished business in Japan for me.

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pirate of a Pirate

There are all sorts of pirates. One that comes to mind is the late Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh kind of pirate. There is the Blackbeard, a.k.a. Edward Teach, the notorious English pirate who terrorized the West Indies in the early 1700’s. Then there is Captain Jack Sparrow, based partially on Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards, a much more lovable pirate. And there are literary pirates. These are books published without the benefit of royalties being paid to the authors. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was pirated as much as any other author.
Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 3 - HIS

As a collector of foreign translations of Sherlock Holmes, I have come across many pirated editions. The late Donald A. Redmond wrote Sherlock Holmes Among the Pirates: Copyright and Conan Doyle in America 1890-1930, published in 1990 by Greenwood. This books deals with the pirated editions of A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. These were just English editions and did not deal with foreign editions.

In China, there was a series called Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries that was published in the 1930’s. I have six volumes in the series and I not not sure how many there were in total. This is just one of the problems facing pirated editions and especially ones in foreign languages. I used to have a book-scout named Simon who lived in Beijing and for a period of time, he was hard on my bank account because he was able to find many early Chinese editions of the Canon. The six volumes of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries were from Simon. I do not know what happened to Simon. I have not heard from him in several years. But for a short period of time he was very active in finding things for me.

Manchurian Pirate of a Pirate

Since I do not read Chinese, I depend on Yuichi Hirayama, BSI, to help me when I get Chinese editions. So when Simon sent me two separate editions of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 03, I was curious because the  covers were similar but the Chinese characters inside the two books were different. Once of the edition’s cover matched the artwork on the covers of the other five volumes but the cover artwork on the other volume 03 looked like someone had drawn it, looking at the fist volume 03. I took scans of the covers and the inside information and emailed them to Yuichi.

Imagine my surprise when I got the answer back telling me that the second volume 03 was very rare, being published in Manchuria after the Japan invasion in 1931. As it turned out, the first volume 03 is a pirated edition published in 1936 by Qi Ming Press in Shanghai, China. The book is “His Last Bow” and was translated by Yang Qirui. The second volume 03 was published by Fentian Dashu Press, in Fentian, Manchuria, China in 1939. The translator was not given but the story is The Hound of the Baskervilles.” The text of this book is the exact text of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 06 by Qi Ming Press, also translated by Yang Qirui of the Hound. This makes the second volume 03 a pirate of a pirate.
Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol.6 - HOUN

 The world of literary piracy is a strange bird indeed.

Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mon Bonheur

One of the delightful things for a collector is sharing finds with other collectors. The late John Bennett Shaw once told me ‘if you have one of something, gloat; if you have more than one, share.’ This is the axiom I have tried to live by and it is also the one my friend and fellow Sherlockian collector Gabriele Mazzoni lives by. I can prove this by my recent Italian vacation. One evening, I had the pleasure of spending several hours with him and his collection near Empoli, Italy.  I am not too sure that ‘gloat’ is what Gabriele did but he did swell with a certain amount of pride when he showed me items of which  I was unfamiliar. However, ‘share’ is the exact word to use when he came across a duplicate item that I did not own. 
Mon Bonheur #7, 1907 Part 2 of 12
Le Chien de Baskerville
Gabriele studied in France and so his French section of Sherlockiana is nearly as extensive as his Italian section. One of the items he brought out was from 1907. It was a French magazine titled Mon Bonheur. Numbers seven through eighteen featured Le Chien des Baskerville. I am fairly familiar with French translations of the Canon because the Société Sherlock Holmes de France keeps a marvelous website that lists 1,171 different Canonical French translations. Mon Bonheur is not one of ones listed. Gabriele then reached up to another shelf and handed me issues eight, nine, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. With a twinkle in his eye he told me these were duplicates and handed them to me. For yet another time, I was speechless. He told me they were not that difficult to find and I found this to be true upon returning home.

Searching eBay, I found all but one of the issues I was missing with the HOUN in it. I found that one on ABE Books. The ones on eBay were less than $10 apiece while the ones from ABE Books were around $25 each. As I was searching, I also discovered that issues forty-eight, forty-nine, and fifty also from 1907 ran “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” and it was my turn to ‘gloat.’ I let Gabriele know of this discovery and I hope I can find more copies so I can ‘share.’
Mon Bonheur #49, 1907 Part 2 of 3
Le Mystrere de la vallee de Boscombe

Mon Bonheur means "My Happiness"in French and it was certainly a mon bonheur finding these lovely little treasures. The cover says "No. 10 - troisième année, 1907" which translates to "No.10 – third year in 1907." In my on-going  research I have only been able to find a few issues from 1905, 1906, and 1907, the first three years it was published. It was a weekly magazine. I have created a spreadsheet with three columns and fifty-two rows so I can keep track of those issues with Sherlock Holmes and those without. Each time I find a new issue I will fill in either –No SH or the four-letter Christ abbreviation. I have only found twenty issues of a possible one-hundred and fifty-six. I have yet to find any issue later than 1907, but I am still actively researching. I also let the French society know of this discovery. They responded that they were familiar with this publication but it had accidentally been left off of their website.They did shed more light on the history of Mon Bonheur, responding that issue twenty-four includes 'The Crime of the Brigadier' thus one more item to look for. I wonder if Cliff Goldfarb knows about this one. He is the premiere collector of Brigadier Girard. Hmmm, gloat or share; gloat or share. I'll call Cliff.

Happy Blogging!