Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Above the 49th Parallel

Last week my wife, Joyce, and I took off for the Great White North. I use the term loosely. It was great and it was north but it was anything but white. The temperature hovered around 40C. For those isolated Americans not used to Metric/Centigrade measurements, it means it was hot. We left Dallas with the thermometer in the 90’s (F) and arrived in Toronto to be greeted by about the same degrees of warmth. We actually flew into Buffalo, New York and made the three hour car trip northward.

We met some Sherlockian friends for dinner and then ventured back to their home where we were treated to a collection beyond words, so I will leave it at that (this is meant to instill intrigue, leaving the reader to want more). Since this vacation was an extension of Joyce’s April birthday, it was never meant to be Sherlockian in nature. Not that she is opposed to such adventures, it simply means there were other items more important on her agenda.

Dinner Table for 64 guest at South Pond Farm
 The main reason for the northward bound journey was a preplanned dinner. Netflix ran a show called Taste of the Country about South Pond Farms. It features Danielle French who moved from the hustle and bustle of Toronto to a farm about 100KM from Toronto. The concept is a low carbon footprint establishment that hosts dinners, weddings, and other social gatherings with an emphasis on local food and drink. The dinner we attended was called the Sturgeon Moon Dinner. The First Nation (Canadian call their native inhabitants by this less offensive term) had names for each full moon. The August full moon is called The Sturgeon Moon, the Green Corn Moon, or the Barley Moon. The dinner, even though called the Sturgeon Moon, featured corn in every course. There were sixty-four guest plus two live musicians. The moon rose on a clean, clear night, bright red and to a full round of oohs and aahs.  Our plans are now to make this an annual event.

Joyce & I on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
Next up was the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, which we were told are more spectacular than viewed from the United States side. As it turned out, whoever “they” were, were quite correct. Niagara Falls on either side is very touristy but on the Canadian side the view is much closer and easier to reach. Just about every nationality crowded for a vantage point. A question I heard someone ask and it made me wonder was, ‘what is the point of Muslim women in full face covered hijabs taking selfies in front of the falls’. How can anyone tell who they are looking at? Just a thought.

The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Festival Theatre
Niagara-on-the-Lake is known for many things, one of them being the Festival Theatre. Its roots can be traced back to 1962 when an Ontario lawyer staged a summertime “Salute to Shaw” in the town’s courthouse. The festival gained huge international publicity and is now the second largest repertory theatre company in North America. Our schedule was open on Tuesday night, so we decided to attend a play, giving us the bragging rights to say we’ve been there. Well low and behold, R. Hamilton and David Pichette’s adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles just happened to be the play that was being staged. Just because this was not a Sherlockian holiday, did not stop us from attending. As it turned out, this was one of the most enjoyable plays we have ever attended. From opening act to closing curtain everything was first rate and truly amazing.

We ended our trek to Canada visiting a few vineyards. Our favorite was #99 – Wayne Gretzky’s Winery and Distillery. What a perfect end to a marvelous blitz of Canada.

Remember, it’s not a Sherlockian holiday but it really always is one.

Happy Collecting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My Children Are Going Off to College

Retired SMU Logo

After nearly thirty-five years as a collector of Sherlock Holmes I recently came to a crossroad. With retirement fast approaching, I needed to do a bit of estate planning. My collection has always played a role in my retirement plans. Until recently nothing very serious had been decided. Selling the book was never an option and I really wanted to keep the foreign language collection complete. What's an aging Sherlockian supposed to do? Talking to an old friend is always a good place to begin. Even better if the old friend is a Sherlockian. Still better, if that old Sherlockian friend works at a major, local university.
Jim Webb (that's Dr. Webb to mere mortals) is a long time Dallas Sherlockian. We used to trade-off  being the Third Mate of the Crew of the Barque LONE STAR back in the 80's and 90's. We co-founded the Diogenes Club of Dallas. Jim became its only president and when the Crew began to falter, the Diogenes Club stepped in and filled the void. Only recently the Barque LONE STAR came out of dry-dock and once again became the main Dallas area Sherlock Holmes society. At one of the regular monthly meetings I asked Jim, who is professor at Southern Methodist University (SMU), if there might be any interest in my collection.
Packing up the collection.
Jim arranged a meeting at my house with Russell L. Martin, III, the director at the DeGoyler Library. Dr. Martin arrived at the scheduled time. As a collector, I have seen my library slowly grow from a few hundred books to well over twelve-thousand volumes. I have seen the reactions of other Sherlockians when they visit for the first time but was not sure about how a professional book person would respond. Well, it did not take long to find out. It may be hyperbole to say his jaw hit the ground but it was close. He was amazed and definitely wanted to add the collection to SMU. I was both pleased and saddened at the same time. The meeting took place in August 2017 and after a few short weeks
Not quite 221 boxes
of negotiations, we came to terms and in September 2017 SMU arrived with a large truck. It took nearly thirty-five years to amass my collection and just under four hours to box, load, and haul it away.

One of the arrangements is that I have visitation rights whenever I see fit and I have gone several times. The collection is currently stored in the Stacks with a two small display cases in the Texas Room with a sampling for various translations. Graduate students are working on cataloging the collection into WorldCat which is estimated to take until spring 2020. After this process is completed, there will be a full display
Old my children going off to college.
and public exhibition. As an added bonus, it was arranged that I could still buy books up to a set amount and SMU would reimburse me. Needless to say I have taken them up on this offer.

One of my best ideas ever was when I decided to have the entire foreign language collection photographed before they went off to college. The end result is freaky. My daughter and I spent three days spray-mounting the life-sized photographs on 1/8th foam board. I managed to slice off the end of one finger and make another unscheduled, deep slash in my thumb before we were through. After the bodily repairs, we glued wine corks to the back of each photograph so they would sit upright on the ninety-two shelves that the foreign translations filled. The faux-images were placed on the exact shelves where their real-world books once sat. Recently a Sherlockian friend who was a frequent visitor before the books left dropped over. He was completely at a loss for words. The last bay of shelving on the right side of the library did not get photographed and is now filled with other books. Sitting across the room from those shelves, he could not tell where the photographs ended and the real books began. I was pleased with this reaction because it was what I had initially envisioned when I thought of the idea. 
The foreign language books being photographed.

I am happy with the entire end results of donating my collection to SMU. I have full visitation rights, the collection is named The Donald J. Hobbs Sherlock Holmes Collection, I can still buy books using SMU's nickel, they want to sponsor an annual dinner, and would also like to host a Sherlockian conference every other year. I am a consultant on all things related to SMU and the collection. Finally, the tax credit I was given has become a large part of my retirement planning. Overall, I would say it was a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Happy Collecting!!

After over a year of silence, I will begin blogging again on a more regular basis. Please enjoy responsibly.

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 http://sherlockpeoria.blogspot.com.

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!