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Sherlockian Calling Cards
By Don Hobbs
Throughout the Canon readers witness the use of calling cards. Sherlock Holmes' card was usually met with respect and even awe in some instances. Such is the case that Dr. Watson writes about in The Bruce-Partington Plans. "Mr. Sidney Johnson, the senior clerk, met us at the office and received us with that respect which my companion's card always commanded." Anybody who was anyone had a calling card.
In today's fast paced world of Internet connectivity, cellular phones, and text messaging a person's calling card is just a push-of-a-button away. A person's "business" card is the evolutionary offspring of the calling card of the last and the penultimate centuries. Leave it to Sherlockians to carry on and improve on the old tradition.
I noticed many years ago that every time I was at some Sherlockian event, I would always come home with several interesting Sherlockian calling or business cards. I finally went off to my local business supply shop and bought one of those narrow books made especially to hold business cards. Now have a nice way of displaying all of these very interesting cards.
A few years ago Derham Groves had a good idea. He contacted me and other Sherlockians requesting a card and permission to include it a book he was publishing.
Too Many Sherlockian Visiting Cards was published by The Black Jack Press in 1998. This little stitch book measures 6" wide by 4 _" tall and features one card adhered to each page. My card is on the first page of my book, which is numbered 6/20. I have always wondered if the other 20 people whose cards are also in this book have their cards on the first page.
Like many other Sherlockians, I have had several different cards printed over time. The first one I created was a little bit of a stretch. I had drawn a silhouette of Holmes and called myself "Private consultant for Collectors of Sherlock Holmes and related items".
Looking back on this particular card makes me cringe. Ah, the maturation process.
My next effort was interesting because it was totally unique. It was so unique that most people did not know what it was. It was a bird's eye view of Holmes. I had the idea from doing CAT Scans. A CAT Scan image is a cross-sectional picture of a person. Imagine a loaf of bread as a person's torso and you need to see the middle slice of bread. A CAT Scan image at that point would show you the middle slice without actually cutting the loaf.
So my bird's eye view of Holmes was looking directly down on him. There is the deerstalker cap, his shoulders, and his feet, plus he is smoking a pipe so it is there as well. Another great idea that missed it's intended mark.
My latest attempt at a Sherlockian card features one of my favorite drawings of Holmes by Henry Lauritzen, the great Danish Sherlockian. The card's image of Holmes has been embossed and the simplicity of Mr. Lauritzen's lines is perfectly reproduced. I would like this card even if it weren't mine. Thank you, Henry.
The use of Holmes' image hasn't been restricted to just Sherlockians either. The are books shops, exterminators, restaurants, and mobile home dealers who have graced their business cards with the Master. My card file book hold 48 cards and I am on "Volume 2". This is just another wonderful by-product of being a Sherlockian.