The Maniac Collector's Inbox
First, I realized that unless I suddenly discovered along, lost, rich uncle left everything to me or I win the Mega-Bucks Lottery, the days of the vacuum-cleaner approach to collecting Sherlockiana were not in my long term plans. There are so many Sherlockian related books published each year that it is difficult to just find out about them, let alone try to buy everyone of them. These are just the English editions. So excluding a few of my favorite authors, I have stopped buying pastiches. I am not one of those pastiches haters or a Sherlockian snob that deems pastiches below me. No, I just cannot afford to buy every one of them.
Next, being a completist is a fate worse than believing in Big-Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. It is an admirable thing to attest to but one that is never going to happen in the Sherlockian world. There will always be a new slight variation or a truly one-of-a-kind items and the completist is not complete. I put this idea to the test this week when a Sherlockian who collects foreign translations of The Hound of the Baskervilles lamented that he need only seven issues to complete his run of The Baker Street Journal. I offer the seven issues as trade-bait for a Georgian and Cuban (Spanish) Hound that I knew he owned. I figured the odd at sixty to forty he would not accept my offer. I had mixed emotions when he accepted. Lucky for me I am not a betting man. Dollar for dollar, he got the better portion of the deal but in the long term, I think I came out ahead. I feel it will be easier to replace the BSJ than the foreign Hounds. I all my years of collecting foreign translations, I have only seen one Cuban edition, directly offered to me for purchase and I have never seen one for sale. Therefore, I am not a completist any longer when it relates to the BSJ.
Finally, there is the space issue. Unfortunately, my library is on the second-floor so it is difficult to expand. I have room for a few thirty feet more of shelf space but this would eliminate my window. I cannot go up and I cannot go out unless I take over another room. Hmmm, there’s a thought but I really enjoy having all of my Sherlockian books in a single place. The thought of Canonical works in one room and the Higher Criticism in another does not appeal to me in the least. Therefore, being a newly reformed non-completist has another positive reason – the elimination of non-Non-English taking up valuable shelf space.
The mark of a truly grand collection is its completeness and still being a completist, if that makes any sense. When someone comes to my library, the sheer vastness in number of the foreign (non-English) translations is striking. They take the entire long-wall in my library and now bleed over to the next wall. I can imagine what the responses would be if the entire library was full of translations. That would a grand collection. The few missing BSJ are gone but I still have all of their articles in the Cd-Rom of the Complete Baker Street Journal. Collectors, to a person, have very individual ideas concerning their collecting habits and I am no different, I have just come to terms with mine.
Past 2009 Columns