Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects

Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects

The catalogue for the Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects exhibit is a worthwhile read for more than just Sherlockians — it provides intriguing insight into some publishing history.

The exhibit, featuring items from the collection of Glen S. Miranker and curated by him and Cathy Miranker, has appeared in several key locations for fans of the great detective: the New York Grolier Club from January through April 2022; the Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana (where I saw it), from August through December 2022; and currently at the University of Minnesota from February through May 2023.

The catalogue for the exhibit allows the reader to view the objects in close-up detail, spending as much time as they wish. Miranker explains, in his introduction, that he is “especially excited by bibliographic rarities and oddities”, and those were the aspects that I found particularly enlightening, seeing the various pirate editions and marketing weirdness that Miranker assembled. There was a fad, for example, of either putting spicier covers on Holmes books than an accurate representation of the story would suggest, or of putting Holmesian covers on other detective stories.

Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects

The exhibition, and thus the catalogue, includes rare copies of books and magazines; alternate and variant editions; manuscript pages; original artwork of illustrations; advertising material and posters; material related to the William Gillette play that popularized the character even further; Arthur Conan Doyle’s letters and journals; and a large number of pirate editions with notes on pricing and printing histories. That last section I found eye-opening when it came to publishing history and copyright in the early 1900s.

Find out more about the exhibit here.

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