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

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Numismatists Do Not Fear Change

Data! Data! Data! – The Crooked Man

Data! Data! Data! – The Crooked Man

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

– The Adventures of The Copper Beeches (COPP)

Illustration by Sidney Paget in The Strand Magazine, July 1893

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.

HERE GOES      This month’s story is The Adventure of the Crooked Man ….


This is one of the few times when Holmes left Baker Street to stay overnight in Watson’s home – perhaps the unfamiliar surroundings dulled his faculties, for the case of Colonel Barclay’s death is one of the least absorbing.  The best element of suspense is what sort of animal can run up a curtain?

DUMMIES SHORT SUMMARY (From Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle & David Crowder)

“The mysterious death of Col. Barclay unveils a terrible, heartbreaking secret.”


  • This is the 22nd of the 60 stories published.
  • In England, it was published in The Strand Magazine in July, 1893.
  • In the United States it was published in Harper’s Weekly on July 8, 1893.
  • It was part of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes published in England, by George Newnes. In the United States, it was published by Harper Brothers.  Both were published in 1894.


According to C. E. Lauderback, 1960 – – found on SHERLOCKIAN.NET website of Chris Redmond, at 7,183 words CROO has the 15th most words (#1 is VEIL – 4,499, #56 if NAVL – 12,701)

THE BEST OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (How do Sherlockians rate this story?)

  • 1944 – Baker Street Irregulars voted it #2 on their worst list
  • 1999 – Baker Street Irregulars –rated it 40th of the 56 short stories
  • 1999 – Sherlock Holmes Society of London voted it 47th of the 56 short stories

CLASSIFYING THE CASE (From the Wandering Gipsies of Grimpen Mire of Decatur, Alabama)

This case is one of 3 classified as fear of retribution.  The others are ILLU and REDC.


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 Wednesday, September 11 to Thursday, September 1, 1889.  This would make Holmes 35 and Watson 37.  Check the end of this column for a list of what Sherlockians think.


It is always interesting to see what else in happening at the same time as the stories.

  • Transvaal claimed to be “encircled” by Rhodes’ concessions in East Africa. Rhodesia established.
  • Great London Dock Strike; the “Dockers’ Tanner”; growth of unskilled workers unions; New Unionism; Gasworkers’ Union formed.
  • March 30, early use of photographs in newspaper: Illustrated London News runs Cambridge and Oxford boat crews.
  • Act to prevent cruelty to children.
  • Technical Education Act: County Councils to levy 1d for technical and manual education.
  • Establishment of the telephone company.
  • General Booth publishes Survey of London Life and Labour.
  • Italy takes Somalia and Ethiopia.
  • October 6, The Moulin Rouge first opens its doors.

  • North and South Dakota, Montana and Washington admitted as U.S. states.
  • Treaty of Acciali: Ethiopia made Italian protectorate.
  • End of Portuguese Empire in Brazil; republic proclaimed.
  • Abdication of King Milan of Serbia; accession of Alexander.
  • Paris Exhibition: proof of industrial development in France.
  • Work on Panama Canal stopped; French company bankrupt.
  • Bismarck introduces Old Age Insurance in Germany.
  • Erection of Tacoma Building in Chicago. First skyscraper, 13 stories high.
  • Conan Doyle publishes A Sign of Four.
  • Mark Twain publishes A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson publishes Master of Ballantrae.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan present The Gondoliers.
  • Renoir paints Girls Picking Flowers.
  • Cezanne paints
  • Tschaikovsky introduces The Sleeping Princess ballet music.
  • Eiffel Tower completed, 985 feet high, taller than the Great Pyramid, become highest structure on earth.
  • Eastman’s Kodak camera comes into production, using photographic film.
  • Mering and Minkowski show that the pancreas prevents diabetes.
  • International meter length of platinum and iridium adopted.
  • First linotype machine in use.


Watson has been married a few months and was living with wife in their house and practicing medicine.


  • JAMES BARCLAY, the murdered man. Commander of the Royal Munsters
  • NANCY BARCLAY, nee DEVOY, his wife.
  • HENRY WOOD, the crooked man.
  • MISS MORRISON, neighbor of the Barclays who accompanied Nancy to the church mission.
  • DEVOY, color sergeant of the Munsters and Nancy’s father.
  • MAJOR MURPHY, called Holmes into the case.
  • JACKSON, covered Watson’s practice.
  • JANE STEWART, housemaid to the Barclays
  • SIMPSON, a Baker Street irregular who followed Wood.
  • TEDDY, a mongoose.


  • Holmes to Watson “You’ve had the British workman in the house. He‘s a token of evil. Not the drains, I hope?”
  • Holmes to Watson “It is one of those instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbor, because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction.” – – (This is as close as it gets to “Elementary, my dear Watson”, words which were never spoken (at least recorded) by Holmes.)
  • Holmes to Henry Woods “It’s every man’s business to see justice done.”
  • Holmes to Watson “David strayed a little occasionally, you know, and on one occasion in the same direction as Sergeant James Barclay. You remember the small affair of Uriah and Bathsheba? My Biblical knowledge is a trifle rusty, I fear, but you will find the story in the first or second of Samuel.”


No fee is mentioned, but there is no money there anyway.


  • 1923    The Crooked Man with Eille Norwood in one of his many short films. The National Film and Television Archive at the BFI has viewing copies of this film but it has not been released.
  • 1984    The Crooked Man with Jeremy Brett in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series and the program was thought by most to be better than the book.
  • 1999    The Crooked Man was an episode in 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.  There was no need for Holmes to have a disguise in this tale.

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.  There are none in this story though.


Victorian London, in the Holmes’ time, had approximately one 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.  Whether it was Doyle or Watson, a doctor wrote the story.

  • Jackson – a locum tenens available to Watson, possibly by his “accommodating neighbor” mentioned also in FINA and STOC

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, Nancy Barclay almost fainted and, then, she and “more than one” person in Colonel Barclay’s household actually did faint.


Sherlockians love this topic and are regularly searching for these items. Holmes mentions published or projected works in 11 of the stories.  None are referenced in this story.

NEWSPAPERS (Real and Fictional)

Though included in only 20 tales some of our more obsessed Sherlockians love this one but not in this one.


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.”  For example:

  • “registration agent” an official who assists in making up lists of eligible voters
  • “canteen”  a bar at a military post or camp
  • “cantonments” usually temporary quarters for troops; however, in India, refers to permanent military station.
  • “already marked for the sword belt” destined to become a commissioned office
  • “meretricious” attracting attention in a vulgar manner
  • “chaff” to make fun of in a good-natured way
  • “stoat” an ermine, especially when in its bown color phase
  • “florin” a coin worth 2 shillings / one tenth of a pound
  • “ichneumon” a large mongoose from Africa or southern Europe
  • “apoplexy” a stroke

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:

  • Half a Battery of Artillery – Which the Seventeenth Regiment of the British Army in India used to hold back the ten thousand rebels attacking Bhurtee.
  • Carved Stick – Of Henry Wood, which was found lying beside Col. Barclay’s body. The police assumed it was the murder weapon.
  • Weapon – Which was used by an Indian Mutineer to knock Henry Wood insensible.
  • Betrayal – Of Henry Wood into the hands of the Indial Rebels by Col. (then Sargeant) Barclay, thus eliminating Wood from the contest for Nancy Devoy’s hand.
  • Collection of Weapons – Of Col. Barclay.
  • Weapons – Used by the Indian Rebels to torture Henry Wood, after he had been betrayed into their hands by Sgt. Barclay.
  • Weapons – Used by the hill folk of Darjeeling to kill the Rebels holding Wood.


As stated many times, Sherlockians can be a strange group.  We sit down together (usually with a beverage in hand) and love to argue items not clearly defined (if at all) such as WHEN the stories take place.  Our favorite author, be he named Watson or Doyle, was often vague in the area either due to intentionally “blurring” the dating to “protect the innocent” or really didn’t care about having the stories follow a chronology.  Here is a fairly comprehensive list of Sherlockians and their deductions.  This list is not organized and doesn’t detail their names or the publication used.  As you can see, there are not a lot of differences here.

William Baring-Gould: – – Wed, Sept 11 to Thur, Sept 12, 1889

Brad Keefauver: (Sherlock in Peoria) Chronology – –  Tue., Aug. 30, 1887

Martin Dakin: (A Sherlock Holmes Commentary) – – Aug., 1889

John Hall: (I Remember the Date Very Well) – – Spring, 1888

Les Kilinger’s Consensus Dating: – – 1888

Bell: August 1888

Blakeney: July 1889

Brend: August 1888

Christ: Wednesday, August 28, 1889

Folsom: A Tuesday in late summer 1889

Zeisler: Wednesday, June 26, 1889

Frank Mentzel, aka Merridew of Abominable Memory, was busy last month attending Sherlockian events. He was seen at Scintillation of Scions X, Watson’s Tin Box, the Red Circle, the Six Napoleons and the Silver Blaze (Southern Division). When not ordering more books about Sherlock Holmes, he can be found outside working in his gardens and yard.

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