|Ann and Dan Andriacco and Glen Miranker|
For almost a hundred years, the American Midwest has been a hotbed of Sherlockian activity. Vincent Starrett, Jay Finley Christ, Elmer Davis, Dr. Gray Chandler Briggs, and T.S. Eliot were all Midwesterners. So was Michael Whalen, long-time Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars.
The Midwest is also home to a number of legendary BSI scion societies and, since 2019, the BSI archives at the Lilly Library on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington. It is only fitting, then, that the Lilly is now hosting the amazing “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” exhibit through Dec. 16.
Even more appropriately, a special Midwest scion day was held this past Saturday at the Lilly, highlighted by a talk by Glen Miranker, who is so generously sharing with the world a small part of his Sherlockian collection through this carefully curated exhibit. Facebook exploded with posts about the event in real time last weekend, so you may have seen many photos and know a lot about it. But this is my personal take:
Ann and I saw the exhibit in New York in January. That was great, but this was better—more intimate, and more time allowed to gawk closer up.
Although I am indisputably a book person, the first editions and the many handwritten manuscripts, letters, and diaries of Arthur Conan Doyle were not what moved me most. I was more blown away to see the iconic Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele illustrations. Think of Paget’s Holmes and Watson on the train, or every illustration that Steele drew for “Wisteria Lodge”—the originals, and many more, were there in Bloomington.
But even that was overshadowed by Glen’s wonderful presentation, in which he told the stories behind several books in the exhibit—how he acquired his copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, the detective work involved in tracing a non-existent library from which a pirated edition came, and his attempts to communicate with the former owner of the only known first edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a dust jacket (complicated because that individual is in prison for murder.)
And what is Glen’s Holy Grail as a collector? The first manuscript page of The Hound of the Baskerville. He already owns the second and third pages.
After the Lilly closed for the day, the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis and the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati hosted a dinner for 40 Sherlockians at the nearby Irish Lion. A whopping 14 scions from six states were represented at the event, highlighted by Sherlockian Show & Tell. And Jayantika Ganguly joined us from India. (Maria Fleishhack was at the exhibit from Germany.)
The entire day scintillated!
|The Lilly Library on the Indiana University campus|