The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Conan Doyle Manuscripts at Auction:
Swann 2017 Sale Information

By Randall Stock, May 4, 2017  (revised)

Swann Galleries sold manuscripts from Conan Doyle's 1894 American lecture tour at auction on May 4, 2017.  They also sold a luncheon card from that tour, as well as other Conan Doyle material.


Conan Doyle 1894 lecture tour manuscript partial page


1894 Lecture Tour Manuscript Description

Lot 343: Manuscript of Conan Doyle's 1894 Lecture Tour

This lot includes three drafts of a lecture that Conan Doyle gave during his North American tour in 1894. Each draft is incomplete and unsigned, with no title, date, or place given.


One draft consists of an autograph manuscript fragment on 6 pages, written in ink on its rectos only. See below for a photo from this handwritten manuscript.


Another incomplete draft is made up of 17 typescript pages and begins "It is naturally repugnant to a man . . . ." The final partial draft consists of 13.5 typescript pages. It lacks the first page, and the last leaf is numbered "23." There are also two leaves (one with writing on both sides) of holograph insertion notes belonging to one or both of the typescripts. See below for a photo of a typescript page.


Pre-sale estimate: $4,000 - $6,000

Price Realized: $10,625 (including buyer's premium)



Previously owned by the author's son Denis Conan Doyle (1909–1955). Sold as lot 33 at Parke Bernet on November 22, 1955. From the collection of Milton R. Slater (1918–2014). Swann sold three other Conan Doyle manuscripts from the Slater collection in 2015.



Conan Doyle's first visit to North America lasted from October to December 1894. His lecture tour, arranged by Major J. B. Pond, took him to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, and many other cities. For details, see Christopher Redmond's Welcome to America, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.


While Conan Doyle prepared three lectures for his tour, Redmond found that he gave the same speech at all except one of his appearances. Newspapers covered the lectures, and Redmond reconstructed a plausible version of "Readings and Reminiscences" from their reports.


According to promotional materials, that lecture included the following topics:

  • Some Early Recollections
  • A Premature Book
  • Short Stories
  • The Detective in Fiction
  • Romance and Reality
  • Poe's Influence
  • Sherlock Holmes: Reading
  • The Philosophy of Trifles
  • The Historical Novel
  • Early American Material
  • The Refugees: Reading
  • Fiction as a Profession
  • "The Lord of Chateau Noir" (Reading)


A comparison between Redmond's reconstructed text and three pages from the drafts up for auction shows both substantial similarities and significant differences. Some sentences and even paragraphs are nearly identical, while many others have minor variations.


However, the manuscript page shown below discusses romance and reality, one of the promoted topics. That text does not appear in Redmond's reconstruction. It seems likely the newspapers did not report the entirety of the lecture. In addition, Conan Doyle could have revised his final lecture after writing these drafts, and he undoubtedly refined it during his tour.


1894 Lecture Tour Autograph Manuscript Photo


Conan Doyle 1894 American lecture tour manuscript draft

Conan Doyle manuscript page from his 1894 American lecture tour

1894 Lecture Tour Draft Typescript Photo


Conan Doyle 1894 American lecture tour typescript draft page 13

Conan Doyle typescript page from his 1894 American lecture tour


For more details on the manuscripts, see the Swann online catalogue.



Other Conan Doyle Lots

This auction includes five other lots with Conan Doyle material.


Lot 342: Card from 26 October 1894 Luncheon in Chicago

Signed by Conan Doyle and 17 others, with a poem by Alice Russell. Recto and verso of card, [Chicago], 26 October 1894.

Pre-sale estimate: $700 - $1,000

Price Realized: $500 (including buyer's premium)


Lot 344: Autograph Letter Signed, Conan Doyle to Gerald Carlton, Jr.

Suggesting The New Revelation and The Vital Message for Mrs. Kyle. 1 page, Crowborough, 17 August 1921.

Pre-sale estimate: $700 - $1,000

Price Realized: $780 (including buyer's premium)


Lot 345: Autograph Manuscript Signed, Report on the Spiritualism Movement

Draft statement on his concept of spiritualism and the state of the movement. 1 1/2 pages, London, [1926?].

Pre-sale estimate: $3,500 - $5,000

Price Realized: Unsold


Lot 346: Autograph Letter Signed, Conan Doyle to Mrs. Findlay

Accepting a [Psychic Bookshop] book order. 2 pages, Minstead, 16 June [after 1925].

Pre-sale estimate: $700 - $1,000

Price Realized: $520 (including buyer's premium)


Lot 347: Typed Letter Signed, Conan Doyle to Mrs. Dawson Scott

Recommending a medium for a séance with Rabindranath Tagore. 1 page, Crowborough, 7 June 1930.

Pre-sale estimate: $700 - $1,000

Price Realized: $520 (including buyer's premium)



All the above lots come from the collection of Milton R. Slater (1918–2014). Swann sold three other Conan Doyle manuscripts from the Slater collection in 2015.


See their online general sale catalogue for more details and photos of all the above lots.


Swann Catalogue & Sale Information

Swann provides an online catalogue for this sale (2446) with descriptions and a large photograph from each lot.


You can also go directly to their listing for Lot 343: Conan Doyle's 1894 lecture tour manuscripts, and then click the "Next" or "Previous" button to see the other Conan Doyle items.


Swann has an e-version of their printed catalogue with Conan Doyle lots starting on page 230.  However, the web online catalogue (linked above) provides better photos and might have updated information.


Their print catalogue includes the same large photos for each Conan Doyle lot that you see in their website catalogue.  The printed version is $35 and you can order it online.  Be sure to select Sale 2446 for May 4, 2017 (Autographs).


Sale Information

Autographs auction (Sale 2446)

Thursday May 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm


Swann Auction Galleries

104 East 25th Street

New York, NY 10010

Phone: (212) 254-4710


The buyer's premium is 25% of the hammer price on the first $100,000.


Pre-sale Viewing

Monday May 1: 10am-6pm

Tuesday May 2: 10am-6pm

Wednesday May 3: 10am-6pm

Thursday May 4: 10am-noon


Acknowledgements and Page History

Photos Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries


My thanks to Marco Tomaschett and Alexandra Nelson at Swann for additional details and photos of the manuscripts.


The first version of this report appeared April 19, 2017. It was revised and sale results were added on May 4, 2017.


Related Pages

Checklist of non-Sherlockian Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Census of Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts


News Archive for Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Other Conan Doyle rarities like Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 and Sidney Paget drawings.


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. 2.0cx-RN Original work
Copyright ©2017  Randall Stock. All Rights Reserved.