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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Let's Hear It for the Purple, Blue, and Mouse!

 I’ve always loved the official tri-color tie of the Baker Street Irregulars. And I knew that its origins went back to BSI founder Christopher Morley. But I learned the details only recently. Jon Lellenberg tells the story in Irregular Crises of the Late ’Forties, volume 5 of his BSI History Project.

In a letter to his friend Helen Hare on December 15, 1949, Morley wrote:

I want to sell the BSI boys the idea of adopting colors for the club; to be sewn in either a rosette for the lapel, or even in a necktie. The colors, of course, to be Purple, Blue, and Mouse these being the three shades through which Sherlock’s dressing gown passed in its fadings. A fine rich purple; a pleasing “electric blue” (like the dress Violet Hunter had to wear in Copper Beeches!); and then a furry, soft, comfortable mouselike gray. Have you got a mouse at 7 Jackson Street to test the gray? That’s the trouble with new houses; no mice.  

I thought maybe, if not imposing yr gallant patience, you wd stitch together a small rosette in these colors for me to wear at the Dinner -- or even a necktie! The colors must be in that order of juxtaposition: purple, blue, gray. Don’t you think it wd be handsome? And say, what an idea for merchandising: the Sherlock Holmes Dressing Gown, in those three colors. Wyn’t you design it, & bet we cd sell it to some imaginative mfr. (pp. 384-385)

(Morley wrote briskly and with frequent abbreviations in casual correspondence.)

The woman who Morley soft-soaped earlier in the letter as “the most expert & subtle seamstress known” delivered the first BSI tie in time for Morley to wear it at the January 6, 1950 BSI dinner. He presumably wore it many times thereafter, including a June 1951 trip to England (photo, p. 417, Irregular Crises).

My purple, blue, and mouse tie is, of course, the bowtie version. It formerly belonged to my friend and supporter Monica Schmidt, who gave it to me as a present. It will look great with a tuxedo!