What do I collect?

A lot of Sherlockians, when they decide to embark upon serious collecting, are a bit confused as to where to start - I certainly was.

The range of Sherlockian items (no matter how tenuous) that can be collected is almost without limit. The items can be related to the canonical Holmes or any of the screen/stage adaptations. Before you know where you are you are in the world of cuddly toys with deerstalkers etc. So if you want to amass a collection without financially ruining yourself, where do you start?

Board games...

No I don't own this
Well the first thing you need to do is define your scope. You cannot hope to collect everything so you must focus. You could elect to focus purely on the canonical (i.e. written) Holmes and collect items relating to that. Or you could focus on one or more of the adaptations. Alternatively you could set your focus differently. My focus is on written materials so I collect books, magazines, posters, theatre programmes and so on. They can be about the canonical Holmes or any of the adaptations. I choose not to collect ornaments (well not many) or toys / board games etc.

You also have to pay attention to budget and your other commitments. There’s no good setting your sights on first editions if you cannot afford them. Signed books are another issue. You may crave a signed first edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes but you’ll need quite a bit of money for that.  You will sometimes have to settle for getting what you desire in a different configuration. For example, I have a first edition of The Adventures but it isn’t signed. I do however have a signed copy of his book The Refugees. So I have ACD’s signature and a first edition of The Adventures - they are just not combined. The value of ACD’s signature varies greatly depending on what it is on. His mark on a Holmes related item is worth a lot more than his mark on one of his non-Holmes works.

Games, clothes and, yes, tobacco

The important thing to remember is that your collection is also an investment and, in the words of Mr Blessington (from The Resident Patient):

First editions

“Well, it's just like any other speculation, and safer than most.”

The popularity of Holmes is constant and any item you buy, assuming it isn’t really tenuous tat, stands a good chance of at least holding its value if not actually increasing. Rare editions of the books, if kept properly, can only rise in value as they become rarer.

So think smart and begin collecting.

Written by Alistair Duncan
Buy my books here


  1. My main interest is in Higher Criticism, so when it comes to Holmes I collect books and magazines. I barely read pastiche these days, although I have in the past and there are a few of those on my shelf. While I have the Doubleday, W.S.B.-G., Klinger and Reference Library editions of the Canon, my interest in books are the content and not edition or condition. A few years ago, I bought Dakin's "A Sherlock Holmes Commentary"--the first time I had read that classic. The copy I bought was a used library copy from Auckland NZ, and part of its charm is holding in my hands a book read by Sherlockians halfway around the globe. I own very few Sherlock Holmes tchotchkes; I don't even have a deerstalker.

    1. You and I seem to have very much the same focus.


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