I know I preface a lot of these interview with talking about how nice the subject is, but it's really true! Sherlockiana is filled with really nice folks. And this week's interviewee is no different. In fact, I've yet to meet a single Sherlockian who's met Regina Stinson and hasn't walked away with a smile on her face. Her canonical jewelry is well known among the conference crowd, and they are truly works of art.
Regina is so low key and cool that you immediately feel at home when you're talking to her. Whether it's a presentation she's giving, article written, or one-on-one conversation with her, you'll be quick to recognize Regina's vast intelligence when it comes to our hobby. She founded and runs her local scion, of which her BSI investiture comes from. But she's been doing that for over 30 years! I know some Sherlockians that haven't even been alive that long! So here is the queen of Sherlockian jewelry herself, Regina Stinson!
How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?
I think anyone who reads the stories and/or watches the movies and is eager to learn more about Sherlock Holmes is a person I would define as a Sherlockian. Anything related to Sherlock Holmes would also be defined as “Sherlockian.”
How did you become a Sherlockian?
My first introduction to Holmes happened when I was about 12 or 13. I remember seeing the Basil Rathbone movies when they were played on TV. I was really taken with the character and watched every movie they showed. I enjoyed the way Holmes solved mysteries and always seemed to observe what others missed.
Then my older brother gave me paperback book of the short stories, which I still have, to read and after that I was completely hooked. I went to bookstores looking for anything I could find about Sherlock Holmes and I bought as many books as I could afford. Some of my favorites were The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett and Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by Wm. S. Baring-Gould. The first because it taught me about playing the game, which gave me a whole new perspective on the hobby, and the second because it was fun to learn about Holmes’ alleged history. It could have been true.
What is your favorite canonical story?
This is a tough one. I like a lot of the stories almost equally. I guess if I had to choose, I’d say The Red-Headed League. I think it has a very clever plot and some funny moments like when Holmes and Watson burst out laughing at Wilson and when he finds a manufactory of artificial kneecaps at the address he was given. Doyle apparently liked it so well, he used a similar plot for two other stories, but not as successfully, in my humble opinion.
Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
Roy Pilot is one of my favorite Sherlockians and a good friend. Roy knows all kinds of fascinating things about Doyle and Sherlockiana. He has been involved with Sherlock Holmes for many years and can tell you stories from the past. He’s been a collector of Holmesian and Doylean items for years and has a great collection of really rare items that he enjoys showing to others. Roy is a true gentleman who is always kind and fun to talk to. Everyone who knows him likes him.
What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
I like the movies and TV shows, of course, since those were my introduction to Holmes. I have a pretty large collection of Sherlock Holmes movies on VHS and DVD that I enjoy watching from time to time. I also like Sherlockian board games. I have a fairly big collection of those, too.
What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?
I like to research anything that happens to spark my interest. I have researched a number of things such as the Holmes movies, Canonical disguises, and the original illustrations from when the stories were first published, to name a few. I also did a bit of research on the Second Boer War and ichthyosis for an article I wrote for the BSI book: Corporals, Colonels and Commissionaires.
What are the Ribston-Pippins?
The Ribston-Pippins is the scion society I began in 1988. Our name comes from the story Black Peter where Holmes is interviewing seamen. “The first to enter was a little Ribston-Pippin…” A Ribston-Pippin is an antique apple with russeting on it. So our logo, designed by my husband, Sam, is an apple with a silhouette of Holmes inside it. We just celebrated our 32nd year last November, but we had to postpone the celebration until May because of the pandemic. We celebrated with an in-person meeting! We are having another in-person meeting later this month.
What are some of your favorite pieces of Sherlockian jewelry that you've made?
I think the Canonical book necklace and bracelets I made are amongst my favorites. They took a long time to make, but I’m kind of proud of the way they came out.
What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
Both of the books I mentioned earlier are great. And you can’t go wrong with one of the annotated collections, because the contain so much wonderful information. There are several such as the Baring-Gould and the New Annotated by Leslie Klinger, and the Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, by Gasogene/Wessex Press, which is divided into individual books making it easy to hold in your lap and read.
Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
I’m not very good at making predictions, but I hope Sherlockiana will continue to be as fun and exciting as we find it now. I’m hoping there will be another really good book, movie or TV series that will lead young people to the stories and bring them into our wonderful hobby.