In the past week and a half, I have been invited to go through two collections of Sherlockians that have passed away. This obviously brings about mixed emotions: in one instance, I didn't know the deceased, so there is the respectful awkwardness of being invited into a stranger's home; in the other, there was the grief that I had so few meetings with a great man and Sherlockian. And quite frankly, there's the excitement of what new treasures lie ahead of me before I get to see their collection. In the best case scenario, you can acquire new items while helping the family to clear out some of the things they no longer want.
The first collection I visited, I was with two other Sherlockians, and we were told to take whatever we wanted. At first I was hesitant, because I didn't want to seem crass. But when I walked into this collection, a whole room with its walls lined with Sherlockian books, I realized they really DID want us to take stuff off of their hands. This Sherlockian was known for his generosity, and would quite often buy extra copies of books so that he could give them away to newer members of our hobby. I'm not making this up, there were SEVEN copies of Jack Tracy's Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana sitting on a shelf!
I was not only looking for myself, but for The St. Louis Sherlockian Research Collection, and thinking of important texts that I could pass on to newer members of The Parallel Case of St. Louis, so I left with quite a few boxes. I have over 30 books to either add to the Research Collection or give to Parallel Case members. This must be what Santa Claus feels like!
Yesterday I visited the second collection, a woman trying to rid herself of her husband's books from years gone by. She was understandably hoping to be paid for whatever books we took, so even though I had a wallet full of birthday money, I still needed to be conscious of my budget as I looked through boxes and boxes in her basement.
This second collection was from a man who enjoyed his pastiches more than the nitty gritty of research. I passed over a lot, only opting to buy three books from this collection. The rest of my money was spent on her husband's collection of Baker Street Journals.
The Baker Street Journal is the best thing I get in the mail. I love it. And knowing that there are decades of back issues out there for me to read really puts a smile on my face. So when I was able to buy 12 years worth of my favorite publication for a very reasonable price, I was all over it.
After these two trips, I'd filled my wife in on my new acquisitions and promised that they wouldn't take up THAT much room, she then put me on the other side of the equation. "If something ever happened to you, what should I do with all of your books?"
Hmmm. Hadn't thought about that.