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As you probably know, I have been researching a lot about collections recently. Of course, the biggest I’m working on is Richard Lancelyn Green’s collection, but this got me thinking about other types of collections, and it surprised me that quite a few people I know collected stamps when they were young. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised since I had a thimble collection and some psychological studies have said that most children collect something until their teenage years.

The appeal of stamps (and thimbles for that matter) is that there are numerous types. They do not stop at the red 1st class and blue 2nd class stamps were are so used to seeing; there are literally hundreds of different kinds of stamps. They can be about anything from cars, to places, to people, and companies have cottoned onto this by creating ready-made mounted collectibles for collectors to buy.

Richard, in the interest of having everything Sherlock related, also collected stamps that have a Doyle or Sherlock link. Even within this niche framework the stamps he collected vary from stunning, to odd, to fascinating (because of their interesting back story). So here are a few examples I’d like to share:

Doyle Churchill stamp

This one of Doyle and Winston Churchill is a particularly interesting example. I knew that Doyle had participated in the Boer War as a doctor, but I had not been aware of Winston Churchill’s part in it. So the story goes: he was a correspondent for the Morning Post but the train he was on was ambushed and he was taken prisoner by enemy soldiers. Churchill managed to escape and hid himself on a train amongst sacks of coal, covering himself in coal dust. He happened upon a house belonging to a Mr Howard, who said ‘Thank God you have come here! It is the only house for twenty miles where you would not have been handed over. But we are all British here, and we will see you through.’ Mr. Howard first hid Churchill in a coal mine then transported him to safety by having Churchill squeeze into a hole at the end of a train car loaded with bales of wool. Quite a fortunate turn of events!

Calicos Island stamps

This set of stamps comes from the Caicos Islands – not a place I would naturally assume to have an interest in Sherlock Holmes, but these examples are brilliant. They show illustrations from the stories, with a beautiful green background. There were four to collect: The Final Problem (top left), The Adventure of the Empty House (top right), The Adventure of the Second Stain (bottom left), and The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (bottom right)

Added note, a great comment from user Servetus, who says: re: Caicos Islands — a lot of these smaller countries produce(d) colorful commemorative stamps as revenue generator. They were / are directed specifically at collectors rather than at post customers. – Interesting fact! Thanks for that!

Age of Steam stamps

This set of stamps appeals to both Sherlockians and train spotters and has been put together by the Sherlock Holmes Railway Society. The picture is of a set of stamps showing various train-related places Sherlock visited during his time at Baker Street. The collector’s version comes with a copy of the Strand drawing of Holmes and Watson in a train carriage. This particular set was released in 1994 and was called the Age of Steam. They show (from left to right): the No. 61343 on West Highland Line,  No. 60149 Amadis at Kings Cross, No. 43000 on Turntable at Blyth North, No. 42455 near Wigan Central, and No. 7002 Devizes Castle on Bridge crossing Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Black Peter Stamp

This next stamp is a Canadian stamp and celebrates the Canadian Pacific Railways- there were two different stamps in identical cards in Richard’s collection, but I only photographed one. I particularly like this stamp because Black Peter is, in my opinion, an underrated Sherlock Holmes story and I love that it has come to light in the form of a stamp. The quote is a typical Holmes moment where he proves his breadth as well as his depth of knowledge. ‘CPR’? Of course it’s the Canadian Pacific Railway! How could it be anything else? (Well, if you’re Holmes anyway)

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One thought on “A Stamp on Sherlock

  1. re: Caicos Islands — a lot of these smaller countries produce(d) colorful commemorative stamps as revenue generator. They were / are directed specifically at collectors rather than at post customers.

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