The Maniac Collector's Inbox
The Adventures of a Foreign Book Collector
I am lucky enough to have been able to use the Internet since 1989. The hospital where I was working was built that same year with a fiber-optic backbone and the Information Systems Department consisted of consultants from Perot Systems. Everything in the hospital was state-of-the-art, even though I really dislike that term. One of the perks for each staff member was an email account and World-Wide-Web access. There was an ample supply of personal computers spread throughout the hospital for easy accessibility. This was the same time I transcribed my hand-written bibliography of my collection into Word Perfect, the program of choice back then. Much later I converted to the Dark Side and switched to Microsoft Word.
I was very successful in my early attempts to track down foreign translations of the Canon online. In 1990 I found a copy of the Cú na mBaskerville .i for salein a small bookshop in England. This was the Irish Gaelic translation of the Hound published by Irish Government Publications in 1934 (De Waal #C3272). This was the first book I ever bought over the Internet. Ironically, I had been in the same shop a couple of years earlier. The owner still remembered me but had misplaced my Sherlockian business card. He said he had thought of me when the book came into his shop but did not have any way of finding me. He had only been selling online for a few months. It seems the book was meant for me and thus it is.
Another success I had early on was finding Martin Laiapea. Martin lives in Estonia and was working at a bookshop in Tallinin. He now owns the bookshop. At the time, he kindly offered to look for older Estonian translations for me. It was during this time that I had received a letter from the National Library of Estonia that included a five page,
On Wednesday, I had an email from Martin. He had found several more translations. Soon afterwards, my phone rings and it is Martin! This was the first time that we have ever spoken even though we have known each other for more than fifteen years. We were able to catch up on each other's personal life, talk about future travel plans and sports. He said he would be sending the book that very day.
Some of the wonderful Estonian books Martin has sent me are Scherlok Holmes 1& 2. These are two small editions published in 1907 by R. Pôder’I.
These are the kind of finds that make collecting so special. Martin is just one of a small army of people I have recruited to help me with my collecting habits and he holds a special place with me. Our friendship has been around longer that many of my Sherlockian friends. I hope one day to be able to meet Martin face-to-face so I can thank him properly for all he has done for me and my collection.
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