Irregular Postings on Coin Collecting & Numismatics - Both Canonical & Conanical

A Scion Society of The Baker Street Irregulars

Numismatists Do Not Fear Change

Data! Data! Data! – The Six Napoleons

Data! Data! Data! – The Six Napoleons

“‘Data! Data! Data!‘ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

– The Adventures of The Copper Beeches (COPP)

This column is composed of material (Data!) developed for a short course called Appreciating Sherlock Holmes that I teach twice a year in the Community Education Life Enrichment Program for a local community college. It is composed of “points of information” that are common to many / most / all of the 60 Canonical stories.

The information here has been researched by me or borrowed / stolen from many efforts of other Sherlockians.

This is among my favorite stories, because I am the current Gasogene (there is an annotated word) for The Six Napoleons of Baltimore, one of the oldest Sherlock Holmes scion (another annotated word) societies in the world.

HERE GOES . . . . . This month’s story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons

Even Lestrade pays handsome tribute to Holmes’s masterly work in this case, and the cold reasoning temperament of the detective is moved for a moment to a human relish for applause. One reason for this success was knowing how to make use of the newspapers. And now we learn that Mrs. Hudson reserves a “lumber-room” at the top of the house for Holmes’s files of old papers.

DUMMIES SHORT SUMMARY (From Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle & David Crowder)
“Why is someone smashing statues of Napoleon all around London? It looks like madness, but the Great Detective sees something else.”

This is the 35th of the 60 stories published
It was first published in The Strand Magazine in May, 1904 and Collier’s Weekly on April 30, 1904. It is part of The Return of Sherlock Holmes collection from George Newnes, Ltd., London in 1905 and Phillip & Co., New York in 1905. The British illustrator was Sidney Paget and the American illustrator was Frederick Dorr Steele.

According to C. E. Lauderback, 1960 – – found on SHERLOCKIAN.NET website of Chris Redmond, at 8,392 words SIXN has the 35th most words (#1 is VEIL – 4,499, #56 if NAVL – 12,701).

THE BEST OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (How do Sherlockians rate this story?)
Most Holmes fans rate this story fairly high.
1927 – Arthur Conan Doyle did not include it on his list of 12 favorites
1954 – Baker Street Irregulars voted it as #11 on their top 12 favorites of the 56 short stories
1959 – Baker Street Irregulars voted is as #8 on list of the top 10 short stories
1999 – Sherlock Holmes Society of London voted it as #11 of the 56 short stories

CLASSIFYING THE CASE (From the Wandering Gipsies of Grimpen Mire of Decatur, Alabama)
This case is one of 4 classified as a theft of gems. The others were BERY, BLUE, and MAZA.

Doyle was often very vague about stating WHEN the tale took place and included few contemporary references to help. Whether this was done intentionally or unthinkingly, the dating of events in the Canon is a very popular pastime pursued by several of our “scholars” researching and justifying their results to no end. We will again default to William Baring-Gould’s dating of Friday, June 8 to Sunday, June 10, 1900 making it 47th of the stories in time. This means that Holmes was 46 and Watson 48.

It is always interesting to see what else in happening at the same time as the stories.
• Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act; establishes federalism.
• Roberts replaces Buller in South Africa; relief of Ladysmith, Mafeking, Kimberly; Boer leader Kronje surrenders at Paardeberg; Transvaal and Orange Free State annexed by Britain.
• Royal Niger Company’s territories are taken over by the British government.
• Central London Railway (Central Line) opens; London’s tubes electrified.
• Labour Representation Committee, beginning of the Labour Party.
• School made obligatory until age 14.
• Birmingham University founded.
• Davis Cup presented for men’s international lawn tennis.
• Boxer Rebellion ended by military relief of besieged foreign legations.
• Franco-Italian Treaty concerning North African colonies.
• Assassination of King Humberto of Italy, accessions of Victor Emmanuel III.

1901 5 Lira Coin of King Victor Emanuel III
1901 5 Lira Coin of King Victor Emanuel III

• Socialist Revolutionary Party formed in Russia, advocates terrorism.
• Russia occupies Manchuria, massacres 45,000 Chinese.
• Working day in France is limited to 10 hours.
• Conrad publishes Lord Jim.
• Theodore Dreiser publishes Sister Carrie.
• Puccini debuts La Tosca.
• Max Planck proposed Quantum theory.
• J.E. Brandenburger invents cellophane.
• First Zeppelin is built.
• Escalator, invented in the U.S.A., exhibited in Paris Exhibition.
• F.E. Dorn discovers radon, a heavy gas.
• Benjamin Holt invents the caterpillar tractor.
• Sigmund Freud publishes Traumdeutung, the interpretation of dreams.

Holmes and Watson were both at Baker Street as expected.

• PRINCE OF COLONNA, who owned the Black Pearl of the Borgias
• LUCRETIA VENUCCI, maid to the count and sister of …
• BEPPO, the thief of the pearl and murderer of Pietro..
• GELDER & CO., manufacturers of the busts
• MORSE HUDSON, retailer of statuary. *
• DEVINE, French sculptor who did the original bust from which the statues were copied.
• HARDING BROTHERS, statuary retailers. Sold bust to Harker.
• JOSIAH BROWN*, his house was burgled and Beppo was arrested.
• MR. SANDEFORD*, his statue contained the pearl and he sold it to Holmes.
* Where the six Napoleons were located

Very little quotable lines here, but the first one is still so very true today
• “The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it.”
• “The affair seems absurdly trifling, and yet I dare call nothing trivial when I reflect on some of my most classic cases have had the least promising commencement. You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernathy family was first brought to my attention by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.”

There is no fee mentioned (Of the fully recorded cases there are at least nine, REIG, BLAC, SIXN, GOLD, ABBE, CARD, DYIN, STUD, VALL, in which Holmes participated solely in order to assist the police) Could he have been on a retainer?

This story has been committed to the screen 7 times – – a little more than average.poster-sh-pearl-of-death
• 1922 – The Six Napoleons with Eille Norwood. The National Film and Television Archive at the BFI has viewing copies of this film but it has not been released
• 1944 – Sherlock Holmes and the Pearl of Death with Basil Rathbone. The Six Napoleons is an important plot device in the film
• 1965 – The Six Napoleons with Douglas Wilmer was a episode in his Sherlock Holmes TV series
• 1967 – Sechsmal Napoleon with Erich Schellow was an episode of the 6 episode short Sherlock Holmes series in Germany and is not available in any English format
• 1986 – The Six Napoleons with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke in his Sherlock Holmes TV series
• 2001 – The Adventure of the Six Napoleons was an episode in the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century animated TV series

The Master of disguise used the deception of being disguised 14 times in 11 of the 60 stories but, unfortunately, not in this story.

UNRECORDED CASES (That involved Holmes)
Watson would tease / torture his readers with “I know something you don’t.” Oh my, how Sherlockians love this category. I have in excess of over 150 examples in my collection. People are desperately wanting to know about the first one.
• The dreadful business of the Abernathy family. Holmes deduced the amount of time which had passed by the depth to which the parsley had sunk into the melted butter.
• The Conk-Singleton forgery case.

Victorian London, in the Holmes’ time, had approximately 1 doctor for every 100 people. 31 of the 60 tales have a doctor in them. This, of course, does not count Holmes’ Boswell. This listing is by Leslie Klinger in the Winter, 2015 edition of the Baker Street Journal. Either it was Doyle or Watson, both doctors, writing the story. In this story, there was one doctor . . .
• Dr. Barnicot – an owner of one of the Napoleon busts

FAINTING IN THE CANON (courtesy of Sherlockian Karen Murdock)
Fainting is extremely common in the Canon, appearing, in some form, in 37 of the 60 tales. In 21 cases someone actually faints. In 22 cases someone almost faints. And in 5 cases someone pretends to faint. In this month’s story, Horace Harker actually faints.

NEWSPAPERS (Real and Fictional)
Though included in only 20 tales some of our more obsessed Sherlockians love this one. This one does not reference a newspaper by name but Horace Harker writes news stories for a syndicated press supplier of stories to newspaper.

The 60 Sherlock Holmes stories used English as spoken in England from the 1880’s until the 1910’s. Some words are foreign to us today and need a “contemporary translation.” Only one in this month’s tale but one that very few know.
• . . . “iconoclast” originals were destroyers of art. Destroyers of idolatry in Byzantine times

WEAPONS (from A Compendium of Canonical Weaponry by Dettman and Bedford)
… “a means by which one contends against another” … utilized in 57 of the 60 tales (all but CREE, 3STU, & YELL) There are several general categories to classify “weapons” that include: firearms, human agents, cutlery, animals, blunt instruments, extortion, toxin, blackmail, and miscellaneous. In our story, which is short, you will find all of the following:
• Service Revolver – Dr. Watson’s and it is mentioned in 13 cases.
• Horn-Handled Clasp Knife – Of Pietro Venucci, found lying beside its owner’s body after he had been murdered in Horace Harker’s home.
• Long Sheath Knife – Which Beppo used to kill Venucci.
• Heavy Hunting Crop – Of Sherlock Holmes.
• Poker – Which Horace Harker armed himself with before he discovered the body of Pietro Venucci in his home.

2015-03-30 10.41.54Frank Mentzel, aka Merridew of Abominable Memory, is the current Gasogene of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore and unfortunately had to miss that group’s 70th anniversary dinner last night, due to illness. He is looking forward to his four week Appreciating Sherlock Holmes classes for the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, MD for the Fall semester this October.

Leave a reply