Putting a Price on Holmes

Original gouache and watercolor drawing by Sidney Paget for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”.

If you could put a dollar value on your passion for Sherlock Holmes, what would it be? In the neighborhood of $250,000 to $350,000? Then you might be in luck. That’s the estimated price for a rare and authenticated manuscript of “The Adventure of Black Peter” by Arthur Conan Doyle going up for sale at Christie’s New York.

The sale catalog says:

Original Sherlock Holmes manuscripts only rarely come to market, and only 16 are in private hands. “The Adventure of Black Peter”is from 1903 and is accompanied by a later autograph letter, “To Mr. Collier with best Xmas wishes, December 1908, from Arthur Conan Doyle,” presumably to Peter F. Collier (1849-1909), founder and publisher of Collier’s Weekly magazine, who commissioned the story to bring the great detective back from the dead. Boldly titled at the head of the first page “The Return of Sherlock Holmes,” “VI,” “The Adventure of Black Peter,” the manuscript features scattered authorial corrections and revisions in ink and pencil. The case involved the gruesome murder by harpoon of Black Peter, a menacing former seaman, and the recovery of stolen securities.

Also for sale in the June 19, 2014, auction of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts is an original gouache and watercolor drawing by Sidney Paget for the publication of “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” in The Strand Magazine, December 1892. It illustrates the line: “I lay back against the cushions, puffing at my cigar, while Holmes, leaning forward, with his long, thin forefinger checking off the points upon the palm of his left hand, gave me a sketch of the events which had led to our journey.” Of the estimated 350 illustrations done by Sidney Paget for the Sherlock Holmes stories, only about 30 have survived. This one is expected to fetch $40,000 to $60,000.

Photo Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014

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