The Best of Sherlock Holmes

 

Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts & More: Bonhams 2016 Sale Information

By Randall Stock, April 11, 2016 (revised)

 

Bonhams offered three Sherlock Holmes manuscripts and two others by Conan Doyle at auction in April 2016.  The manuscript of "The Problem of Thor Bridge" sold for $269,000.

 

The Problem of Thor Bridge: title & first 4 lines of manuscript

 

Introduction

 

The largest auction of Conan Doyle manuscripts since the dispersal of the Conan Doyle archives in 2004 included two manuscripts of Sherlock Holmes short stories, a leaf from The Hound of the Baskervilles, and manuscripts of a Conan Doyle historical novel and a World War I short story.

 

A private collector in California acquired most of these manuscripts in the 1980s. With Holmes manuscripts from three different decades, they feature the great detective in some of his most famous cases. The other manuscripts show the range of Conan Doyle's talent, with a fine historical romance involving prize-fighting and a rare short story published during the Great War.

 


 

The Greek Interpreter

 

Lot 12: Autograph Manuscript of "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter"

The only known complete manuscript from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and the story that introduced Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes.

 

Original autograph manuscript, signed as "Conan Doyle | 12 Tennison Road | S Norwood," not dated but c.1893, on 34 loose sheets, 4to.  Titled on first page as "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter."

 

Pre-sale estimate: US$ 380,000 - 420,000

Price Realized: Not sold.  Bidding did not reach the undisclosed reserve price.

 

For more details and large photos, see my page on "The Greek Interpreter" manuscript.

 

Bonhams online catalogue entry for lot 12 has photos of the first page, the last page, a page marked "19," and of all the loose sheets together.  The same photos appear in their printed catalogue.

 


 

Rodney Stone

 

Lot 13: Autograph Manuscript of Rodney Stone: A Reminiscence of the Ring

Conan Doyle was a fine athlete and an avid boxer, and this novel explores prizefighting during the Regency.

 

Original autograph manuscript, signed as "A. Conan Doyle | Reform Club | Pall Mall | London," not dated but c.1895, on 531 pp., various sizes 12mo to 8vo, and bound into two volumes.  Titled as "Rodney Stone | A Reminiscence of the Ring."

 

Pre-sale estimate: US$ 80,000 - 120,000

Price Realized: Not sold.  Bidding did not reach the undisclosed reserve price.

 

For more details and large photos, see my page on the manuscript of Rodney Stone.

 

Bonhams online catalogue entry for lot 13 has six photos including the first page of Chapters 1, 10 and 18, the first page of an unpublished preface, another page, and slipcases for the bound volumes.  Two of these photos, the first page of Chapter 18 and of the unpublished preface, appear in their printed catalogue.

 


 

The Hound of the Baskervilles

 

Lot 14: Autograph Manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles

A rarity among rarities—only 36 leaves still exist from the most famous Holmes story, and institutions hold 24 of those.

 

Original autograph manuscript, not signed or dated but 1901, on 1 loose sheet, 4to.  Headed as "Chapter XIII | Fixing the Nets."

 

Pre-sale estimate: US$ 100,000 - 150,000

Price Realized: Not sold.  Bidding did not reach the undisclosed reserve price.

 

For more details and large photos, see my page on leaf H31 of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

 

Bonhams online catalogue entry for lot 14 has two photos, including the entire sheet and a close-up of the top portion.  The larger photo appears in their printed catalogue and part of it fills the cover of that catalogue.

 


 

The Prisoner's Defence

 

Lot 16: Autograph Manuscript of "The Prisoner's Defence"

One of only two short stories published by Conan Doyle during the Great War from 1914 through 1917.

 

Original autograph manuscript, signed as "Arthur Conan Doyle | Crowborough.", not dated but c.1915, on 13 loose sheets, 4to.  Titled on first page as "The Prisoner's Defence."

 

Pre-sale estimate: US$ 20,000 - 30,000

Price Realized: Not sold.  Bidding did not reach the undisclosed reserve price.

 

For more details and large photos, see my page on "The Prisoner's Defence" manuscript.

 

Bonhams online catalogue entry for lot 16 has photos of the first page, last page, and of all the sheets fanned out.  Their photos of the first and last pages appear in the printed catalogue.

 


 

Thor Bridge

 

Lot 17: Autograph Manuscript of "The Problem of Thor Bridge"

Widely considered to be the best of the last Holmes tales, it features a plot suggested by the editor of the Strand Magazine.

 

Original autograph manuscript, signed as "A. Conan Doyle | Crowboro'," not dated but c.1921, on 48 pp. in two parts, 8vo and 4to.  The first part is bound and the final seven sheets are loose.  Titled on first page as "The Problem of Thor's Bridge," with several stricken preliminary titles.

 

Pre-sale estimate: US$ 250,000 - 350,000

Price Realized: $269,000 (including buyer's premium).

 

For more details and large photos, see my page on "The Problem of Thor Bridge" manuscript.

 

Bonhams online catalogue entry for lot 17 has four photos including the first page, the first page of loose sheets, the bound cover, and all the loose sheets together.  All the photos except the bound cover also appear in their printed catalogue.

 


 

Catalogue & Sale Info

 

This was the Bonhams Fine Literature sale #23644 in New York, on Monday April 11, 2016 at 10am.

 

The buyer's premium is 25% on the first $100,000 of the hammer price plus 20% on the remainder up to $2 million. Reserve prices are set at or below the pre-sale low estimate.

 

Bonhams New York

580 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10022

Tel: +1 212 644 9001

 

Pre-sale Viewing in New York

Thursday April 7: 10am - 5pm

Friday April 8: 10am - 5pm

Saturday April 9: 10am - 5pm

Sunday April 10: 10am - 5pm

 

Sale #23644 online catalogue

Besides the online entries, this page also includes a link to order a printed catalogue and a link to download a 3 MB PDF of the printed catalogue.  See the lot listings above for direct links to the Conan Doyle lots in the online catalogue, and for details on the printed catalogue's photos.

 

Bonhams Magazine Spring 2016 Issue 46, pp. 42-45.

"Case in hand" by John Sutherland

An essay on the appeal of Sherlock Holmes, with interesting photos including several of the manuscripts in the auction.  Available as a 9 MB PDF download or as an online e-publication.  The two versions have some different photos.

 


 

Acknowledgements and Page History

 

Photos courtesy of Bonhams

 

My thanks to Tom Lamb and Katie Segreto at Bonhams for photos and additional details about the manuscripts.  Thanks also to Steve Rothman and Nick Utechin for news about the sale.

 

Details from Bonhams 2016 and other sources.  The first version of this report appeared March 19, 2016.

 


 

Related Pages

 

Links to the above five individual manuscripts

 

Census of Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts

 

Census of the Manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles

 

Checklist of non-Sherlockian Conan Doyle Manuscripts

 

Lists of each year's best Sherlock Holmes books & DVDs, the most famous Sherlock Holmes quotes, and more Top 10 Lists.

 

 

 

Return to Manuscripts Home page and Introduction

 

 


 

Vers. 2.0bx-RN Original work
Copyright 2016  Randall Stock. All Rights Reserved.