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Friday, July 5, 2013

Sherlock Holmes, Advertiser

Holmes, Watson, and James Ryder

Sherlock Holmes doesn't place advertisements in newspapers as often as you might think -- and certainly not nearly as Nero Wolfe.

I count only five times in which he took out an advert, from key actions in A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four to an ad that finds no takers in “The Naval Treaty,” to a passing mention in “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.” 

Most memorable for me is the scene in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” where Holmes writes
“Found at the corner of Goodge Street, a goose and a black felt hat. Mr. Henry Baker can have the same by applying at 6:30 this evening at 221B Baker Street.”
He then tells Peterson, the commissionaire, to “run down to the advertising agency and have this put in the evening papers.”

“In which, sir?”

“Oh, in the Globe, Star, Pall Mall, St. James’s, Evening News Standard, Echo, and any others that occur to you.”

“And any others that occur to you”? Just the mention of six evening newspapers in one city, even in the capital city of the British empire at its height, is enough to make anyone acquainted with the sad state of 21st century newspapers weep. 

Other Holmes stories refer to whole crop of additional London dailies: The Standard (STUD), The Chronicle (REDH, CARD), The Daily Gazette (BRUC), The Morning Post (NOBL), The Daily Telegraph (STUD, COPP, BRUC), The Daily News (STUD, GREE), and of course The Times (SIGN, HOUN).

It's rather surprising that Holmes didn't use them more often in a proactive way. But he did use them a lot to gain information.  

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