Can one enjoy reading about others pursuing a passion not his or her own? Yes! That was my experience of The Finest Assorted Collection: Essays on Collecting Sherlock Holmes.
In this just-published book, edited by Peter Eckrich and Rob Nunn, 26 enthusiasts write about what and how they collect – not just books, but such amazing items as clothing worn by Nigel Bruce in a Holmes film and an original Charles Shultz cartoon, not to mention bread wrappers and bobbleheads.
A few common themes emerge from these monographs:
- Passion – all collectors have it.
- Specialization – most collectors need it.
- The hunt – collectors seem to love this as much as success at finding.
- Friends and fellow collectors – absolutely essential to getting leads, and often quite generous in mentoring and sharing. One such mentor mentioned by several essayists was the late, great Paul Herbert, founder and Official Secretary of The Tankerville Club of Cincinnati.
Many of the writers note the need for time, space, and money, although most of them started with more of the first two and not so much of the third. Another common point was how the internet changed collecting by making it easier to find things, and some of the writers seem wistful about that.
As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think that everything physical in these collections will eventually belong to other people or institutions. Perhaps that is why my favorite collections in the book are those of my friends Monica Schmidt and Ashley Polasek. Monica collects experiences – and is very good at it! And Ashley writes, “My brain attic is a cinema, and my collection is all the Sherlock Holmes films that have ever played there.”
I have a lot of Sherlock Holmes in our library, our living room, our den, and my office, but what I have really collected by being a Sherlockian is friends.
The Finest Assorted Collection is published under the Gasogene Books imprint and is available at the Wessex Press website: https://www.wessexpress.com/html/assorted.html