Stamp Magazine (UK)
May, 1987

Sherlock Holmes

 
Feeling frustrated because of the apparent lack of intended action by the British Post Office earlier this year in celebrating the centenary of the debut of the most famous (fictional) private detective ever, Gordon Palmer of One Thousand Oaks, California, USA, issued a Yeti Post Cinderella inscribed '100th Anniversary of the first / SHERLOCK HOLMES story – 1887'.
With a single-line frame of 46mm horizontally and 38mm vertically and printed in black on yellow paper, the stamp portrays the archetypal detective in characteristic pose, looking through a magnifying glass at a 'Yeti'.
The first day of issue, as close as can be ascertained, was during early January 1987.
Actually Mr.Palmer was rushing his fences somewhat. The first appearance of Sherlock Holmes cannot be tied down to a day. He premièred in a 'Study in Scarlet', which was eventually published in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887. That appeared, it is rumored, in November that year but the generally accepted month of appearance was December. The story was, as is well known, written by Conan Doyle. However, according to some information provided for me by Mr N.P. Metcalfe, a well-known student of Holmesiana, the story was first written by Dr Conan Doyle, of Soutsea – he gave up medical practice some years later – in 1886, beginning in March and finishing in April that year. It was rejected by the Cornhill Magazine and then he offered it in time for publication in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1886 but Ward Lock & Co, its publishers, could not fit it in and bought the copyright for £25 for publication in 1887, after they had rejected his request to be allowed to retain, in effect, a royalty on sales of the work.
A few covers, franked at the 31 pence rate, were sent over by Mr Palmer from USA in fact in time to be posted on January 6, which happened to be the date of the annual dinner of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. It was in fact a celebratory Centenary Dinner and was held at the House of Lords.
Each of those covers bore also the Yeti Post stamp tied to the left of the cover by a rectangular outlined and undated cancellation inscribed with the name of the post.
Incidentally, the 'Yeti Post' has been in operation under Mr Palmer's aegis since April 1965.
He had, as it so happens, anticipated the action of the British Post Office. On February 16 it announced the intended issue on April 14 of a £1 book of stamps featuring Sherlock Holmes and portraying some of his greatest cases. No. 1 in the series is entitled, appropriately, 'A Study in Scarlet'.
Sherlock Holmes buffs, members of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, the Baker Street Irregulars of New York – who, in contrast to the members of the London society, collect and study Sherlockiana – and many others of which there are many worldwide seem to be in for a bumper philatelic year. Mr. Henry Murray, of Arlington Supplies, PO Box 143, London N13 4XN informed me that he was to issue special commemorative covers related to the stamp books and featuring the character whose arch enemy and eventual destroyer was Dr. Moriarty.

Norman William

Thanks to Kevin von Bratt for suggesting this, and forwarding a copy the article. The image of the "stamp"is adapted from Benton Wood's Philatelic and Numismatic Holmes, New Revised Edition, 1993, p.15, with color added.