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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, March 4, 2016
Five previously unrecorded Brigadier Gerard manuscripts, including the very first Gerard story by Arthur Conan Doyle, are offered for sale.
Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous characters include Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger, and Brigadier Etienne Gerard. The Brigadier featured in 18 short stories in The Strand Magazine, and has won praise from Michael Chabon and George McDonald Fraser.
Conan Doyle's first set of Brigadier Gerard stories consisted of eight tales that were originally published in magazines and then collected in The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard. Until recently, the manuscripts for most of those stories were unrecorded and feared lost forever.
Although it was not generally known, a private collector and his heirs owned five of these manuscripts for many years. The manuscripts have now been publicly confirmed to still exist and are being offered for sale by James S. Jaffe Rare Books in New York City.
See below for publication details.
James S. Jaffe is offering five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts in two volumes:
The first Brigadier Gerard story ever written.
Original autograph manuscript, signed, , on 41 pages, and bound in contemporary three-quarter calf, 7 x 9 inches. With the bookplate of Herbert Foster Gunnison and a presentation inscription from Irving Bacheller to Gunnison.
For details and photos, see:
Four manuscripts from The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard, the first series of Brigadier Gerard stories.
Four original autograph manuscripts, all signed,  and 1895, on more than 90 pages, and bound in contemporary three-quarter calf, 8.5 x 13.5 inches. With the bookplate of Herbert Foster Gunnison and a presentation inscription from Irving Bacheller to Gunnison.
For details and photos, see:
Conan Doyle wrote his first Brigadier Gerard story in 1894 as a standalone tale, and later decided to write an entire series. Those later stories appeared under the series title "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard," and used Roman numerals starting with "I" despite the prior publication of that first tale.
The first set of Brigadier Gerard stories appeared in The Strand Magazine as follows:
These Gerard stories also appeared at roughly the same time in the New York edition of The Strand Magazine as well as various American newspapers.
George Newnes published the first British book collection of the stories as The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896). The title of the first tale was changed to "How the Brigadier Won His Medal." The book arranged the stories in a different order than their publication sequence, and renumbered them as "I." to "VIII."
For story recommendations and more about the character, see About the Brigadier Gerard Stories.
These five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts are bound in two volumes that both include a presentation inscription from Irving Bacheller to Herbert F. Gunnison.
Irving Bacheller (1859–1950) was an American journalist and novelist who also founded the first modern newspaper syndicate in America. The Bacheller Syndicate provided stories and other material to many newspapers. The first American book edition of The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard cites Bacheller on the copyright page for six of the eight stories, including all five of the tales represented in these manuscripts. Bacheller probably received Conan Doyle's manuscripts as part of syndicating those stories in America.
Herbert Foster Gunnison (1858–1932) started with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1882 and eventually became its President in 1924. He and Bacheller were friends since their college days at St. Lawrence University. Bacheller presented other manuscripts from his syndicate's stories to Gunnison, including at least two by Sarah Orne Jewett. It's not clear when Gunnison received the Brigadier Gerard manuscripts, but in 1925 he loaned them to St. Lawrence University for an exhibition.
Bacheller inscribed both volumes on a preliminary blank, presenting them to "Herbert F. Gunnison" and signing as "warm regards of Irving Bacheller." Both volumes also include the bookplate of Herbert Foster Gunnison on the front pastedown.
The James S. Jaffe 2015 Fall-Winter catalogue gives the provenance as "by descent from Herbert F. Gunnison."
790 Madison Ave, Suite 605
New York, New York 10065
Item 19 (pp. 23-31) includes the following manuscript photos:
His online catalogue entry includes the following manuscript photos:
Photos courtesy of James S. Jaffe Rare Books
My thanks to James Jaffe for additional details and photos of the manuscripts.
The first version of this report appeared March 4, 2016.
Links to the above five individual manuscripts
Checklist of non-Sherlockian Conan Doyle Manuscripts
Census of Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts
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