A Scion Society of The Baker Street Irregulars
“It immensely adds to the zest of an investigation …”
– The Valley of Fear (VALL)
During the December holiday season, I reached out to Jon Lellenberg regarding his article in the January 18, 2014 of the Saturday Review of Literature that we have just reprinted here on our site as The Mystery of the Three Irregular Plates. Mr. Lellenberg kindly invited me to join him for breakfast one morning during the BSI Weekend in New York in January and we had a nice conversation about these plates.
I would like to add a few thoughts and comments of my own to his narrative.
First, to make it easier to refer to the three different plates, I’d like to assign “labels” to them at this time.
There are five auction appearances between these three brass plates since 2013, when the first two plates (New York and Toronto) were first reported.
In order of Auction appearances, we have:
May 21, 2013 (Mullock’s) – the Toronto plate and the Bank Note plate (both unsold)
May 2, 2014 (Heritage Auctions) – the Toronto plate (unsold)
October 8, 2014 (Heritage Auctions) – the New York and Toronto plates (both sold via mail / fax bidder)
So the last recorded sales of the New York and Toronto took place at the October 2014 Heritage auction to an unknown bidder(s). The Bank Note plate was acquired by private treaty sometime after it’s appearance in the Mullock’s sale and now resides in a private collection in the United States. We are attempting to acquire better pictures of the Bank Note plate.
All three plates clearly indicate that they were manufactured by the American Bank Note Company. We know that Allan M. Price was at the January 1940 BSI Dinner at New York’s Murray Hill Hotel. Price joined the ABNC in 1920 and became its Manager of Domestic Sales in 1935, working at its Manhattan offices at 70 Broad Street. Price died at the age of 46 in 1943. Perhaps if he was still alive in 1959, he might have warranted a mention in William H. Griffith’s The Story of the American Bank Note Company. Perhaps not…
In all likelihood, the New York and Toronto brass plates (we’ll discuss the Bank Note plate a few paragraphs below) were manufactured at the ABNC’s production facility in the Bronx, as an “off the books” side job by someone in production as a favor to Price. But did Price do these as a favor to another BSI member? A friend at the MacMillan Company? Was Price even involved?
The Bank Note plate poses a few questions of its own. As Lellenberg points out, this plate has an address of 78 to 86 Trinity Place, which was the address of what is now known as the American Stock Exchange from 1922 to 2008. However, the ABNC was headquartered at this address beginning in 1882 until its move in 1908 to its new headquarters at 70 Broad Street. The “new” ABNC production facility would open in the Bronx in 1910. When the New York Curb Exchange purchased the parcel at 78-86 Trinity Place for its headquarters, the old ABNC buildings were already gone and the lot was vacant.
Is it possible that the Bank Note plate was made during the time the first 40 stories of The Canon were being written?!?!?