Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Those Sherlock Holmes People in Cincinnati"

From time to on this blog I have written about my friends Carolyn and Joel Senter of Classic Specialties, but not often enough.

This dynamic duo has been selling Sherlockian materials by mail order since 1988 -- so long, in fact, that they manage to snag the enviable web address http://www.sherlock-holmes.com/. In addition to books, they sell all kinds of cool and unique stuff. In days gone by they published an extensive catalogue that was more like a magazine. Now they publish electronically with The Sherlockian E-Times and The Baker Street Bulletin.

When I tell you that they call themselves "those Sherlock Holmes people in Cincinnati," you may get the idea (correctly) that this is a very homespun operation. That is their strength. They aren't a big box store; they are two fine people really committed to the Sherlock Holmes community. From them you get personal attention. That's why this blog links my books to their store, although you can buy the books elsewhere.

The story of how their business started and grew is an interesting one, and I'm going to let them tell it themselves. This is from a 1996 article on their website, slightly edited down:  

It all began with a sweater. Joel had been a Sherlock Holmes fan since his high school days when he was introduced to "The Red-Headed League" through an English literature book. Carolyn had been both an amateur and professional knitter for many years, so one year she made a Sherlock Holmes sweater for Joel. The sweater had silhouettes of Holmes and Watson, a replica of Mr. Holmes's signature, a "speckled band" around the waist, a string of dancing men (which no one has yet deciphered), and assorted other "Sherlockiana" either knitted, or appliqu├ęd, onto the sweater.
In 1987, we attended the Friends of Old Time Radio convention in Newark, New Jersey. There we met a fellow Sherlockian named Bill Nadel. He learned of the sweater and asked Carolyn if she would make one for him. She said, in essence, "No, I spent months on that sweater and now I know better than to undertake such a project again."
However, because Bill is such a nice guy, Carolyn later decided to see if Bill would be pleased with a much simpler garment, so she made a scarf and sent it to him. Subsequently, Bill (now Bill Nadel, BSI) wore the scarf to some Sherlockian functions. As a result, some other folks in the New York area contacted Carolyn to ask if she would make scarves for them, too. She complied and made a few scarves, mostly for Bill's New York area compatriots.
The scarves were well received. Eventually, it occurred to us that Sherlockians elsewhere might like to have some of these scarves, so we created a "line" of scarves with Sherlockian motifs, including the Speckled Band scarf, the Empty House scarf, the Sign of the Four scarf, and others. We bought an ad in the Baker Street Journal and sent out an advertising mailer to a few clubs and scions.
There were a few responses, so we expanded our product "line" to include such things as a "battle at Reichenbach sweater jacket" and a "Speckled Band bell rope." Even though we were never swamped with orders, there was sufficient interest to render the required work more than we could handle by ourselves.
At about the time the work load started to become unmanageable, some creators of other Sherlockian products (lapel pins, books, monographs, art work, etc.) started to become aware of our existence and contacted us to see if we could help them market their items, too. Very slowly, and very selectively, we began to market such articles for others.
You see, as "brokers" for all matter of items, we have created a conduit of communication among Sherlockians all over the world. Now people who would never have known each other are not only aware of each other's products, but more importantly, they are aware of each other! Consequently, we think of our Classic Specialties organization as more than a purely commercial enterprise. We feel we have created communication channels among Sherlockians which would not otherwise have existed!


  1. I've know about Classic Specialities for years. It's nice to read Joel and Carolyn's story. I'm so glad their business has grown. Yes, please check them out for anything Sherlockian.

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