I feel that, if you are a collector of all things Sherlock Holmes (or of Victoriana in general), there are some things that you should have. I generally confine my collecting to printed material but there are a few objects that I simply had to have.
The latest I have acquired is a Phrenology head. The "science" of Phrenology (really a pseudo-science) was popular in the early to mid nineteenth century and worked on the idea that areas of the brain had a direct impact on aspects of the individual and that the form of the skull could indicate certain traits. This is not entirely wrong as areas of the brain are now known to directly control motor abilities, emotions etc. but the map used by adherents of Phrenology was distinctly wide of the mark and the "science" was dangerously close, in its attitudes, to eugenics.
Now, by the late 1840s, Phrenology was slowly falling out of favour. Arthur Conan Doyle, arguably, touched on the idea in The Hound of the Baskervilles in this excerpt where Dr Mortimer addresses Holmes.
"You interest me very much, Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull."
Now this does not explicitly reference Phrenology and you could argue that there is no hint of it at all. However the makers of Granada's film of HOUN, with Jeremy Brett, clearly thought otherwise with Brett's Holmes stating to Mortimer:
"Well, I presume it was not your phrenological passion which drew you to Baker Street."
If you wish to read more about Phrenology the Wikipedia article can be found here.
Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here