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Book: A Study In Banking (1989)

Book: A Study In Banking (1989)

“You may possibly have read my little monograph …”

– The Hound of The Baskervilles (HOUN)

A Study in Banking

In the Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s District Messenger #87 (June 29, 1989) was this announcement:

Over the weekend we were also introduced to our member James Cuthbertson’s delightful little book A STUDY IN BANKING: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF MR SHERLOCK HOLMES WITH HIS BANK (“said by experts to be the last word upon the subject”). It costs £3.25 (including postage) from Mr Cuthbertson at ...

Peter E. Blau had this announcement in the September 1989 edition of Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press:

A STUDY IN BANKING: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES WITH HIS BANK offers an imaginative discussion by James Cuthbertson (himself a banker, now retired) of the detective’s dealings with the Hampshire Banking Company from 1871 until 1914 (by which time it had been renamed the Capital and Counties Bank). The pamphlet (27 pages) is available from the author, and the postpaid prices are L3.75 (surface) or L5.00 (air) if paid in sterling, or $5.00 (surface) or $10.00 (air) if in currency.

Blau updated that announcement in the November 1989 Scuttlebutt:

Further to our report (Sep 89 #4) on James Cuthbertson’s monograph A STUDY IN BANKING: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES WITH HIS BANK, that report was not quite correct as to the price of the pamphlet, which costs (postpaid) $8.00 (by surface mail) or $10.00 (by airmail) if (and only if) payment is made in currency (not checks). The banking industry (in this country as well as in Britain) imposes heavy surcharges for converting checks drawn in foreign currencies, making small checks impractical for small transactions.

Nicholas Utechin provided this review in the Winter 1989 issue of the Sherlock Holmes Journal:

THE CONTENTS of this attractive little booklet were originally offered for publication in the Journal; when I told Mr.Cuthbertson that the work would have to appear in two parts for reasons of length, he decided to bring it out himself.

As the author acknowledges, this is by no means the first time that Sherlockian scholarship has touched on Holmesian banking affairs. But it is a merry trip through the volumes recording Holmes’s account, held at the Oxford Street branch of the Capital and Counties Bank. That the bank should have broken it rules of client confidentiality is remarkable – that the details shown by Mr. Cuthbertson show Holmes to have been a wealthy man, less so. It’s surprising that people had the same kind of issues with banks as we do now, various bank offers and deals make them appear untrustworthy. It is only when one sees the known income elements added to reasonable assumptions of incomings and outgoings – presented by Mr. Cuthbertson in chatty fashion – that one realises how extremely well off Sherlock Holmes must have been.

Obviously, this monograph is out of print, but can be found at some online book selling websites for under $20. Spend a few minutes and look for it – it’s well worth the time and dollars.

With only 27 pages, it is a quick read and features an illustration on almost every page, none of which are numismatic related. Cuthbertson breaks the manuscript down into seven sections, making the information very easy to comprehend and not overwhelming the reader. The chapter dealing with Holmes’ banking transactions was especially interesting, in my opinion.

In 1994, Cuthbertson would issue an “addendum” called The Banking Connection 1894-1994 which can be read HERE.

The Fourth Garrideb has donated a copy of this monograph to the libraries of both the American Numismatic Society in New York and the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs. The ANA Library does allow its members to borrow books via mail.

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