Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Dating Can Be Hard

It's time to give you a glimpse into the research that can go into just one image, and all the rabbit holes it can take you down.

It used to be that I changed the Cover Photo on my Facebook Page every once in a while. About every third month or so. Well, I decided to start doing it every month just because of how many different images I have that would be perfect for it. I started looking for an image for the next change, and found one buried deep in a file that looked pretty good. Here it is:

I have always loved how much detail was captured in those old wet-plate photos, and this one is no different. However, if I were going to use it as a Cover Photo, I needed details about it. I don't like throwing them up there with no description. I knew this was taken in Lewisham, so I started looking at it closer so that I could nail down a year.

I started with the sign on the right for George Stroud. Turns out his shop was at 65, 67, and 69 High Street in Lewisham at the time, and that he was there in 1890. (Well, longer than that, but I had a starting point.) I was on the right track for the time of Holmes and Watson.

While perusing a site about the Stroud shop I came across a reference to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee clock being on High Street in Lewisham. I knew that her DJ was in 1897, so this means the picture was from before that. I put the clock thing aside for a time (no pun intended), and tried once again to fix a year for photo. I found it on several sites, and most said either 1890 specifically, or the 1890's. I was semi-satisfied with that, but I was intrigued by the Jubilee clock thing. I went right to Wikipedia to begin my search.

(This photo is from the same direction, but a few years later. That's George Stroud's shop to the immediate lower left of the Tower.)

I found that the clock tower was completed in 1900. If I could find when it was started, then I could say what date the picture preceded. I started looking up combinations of the words LEWISHAM, CLOCK, TOWER, JUBILEE, DIAMOND, HIGH STREET, 1900, etc. I got a lot of sites to check, and most of them said that construction was started in 1897. That's good timing, especially if it's to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.

I opened Google Books and typed in the year and location. Know what I found? Nothing. Nada. I found this odd. There should be plenty written about this. The more I looked I continued to find references to it being started in 1897, but nothing more solid. I began to wonder if some sites were just saying that because that was the year of the event. Perhaps they hadn't done their homework.

I headed over to British Newspaper Archives and put in the keywords. Once again I found articles saying it was started in 1897, but when I went to 1897, nothing came up. The start of construction had to be somewhere, so I took off the year and went with a range. I got my first real hit in April 15, 1898, from a paper called The Kentish Mercury. But, there was a problem with the 1897 thing.

Note that in the fourth line it says the committee was going to start considering submitted designs for the clock tower. If that's the case, then a lot of websites and articles have some incorrect info. I pressed on. On May 20th of that year I found that a design had been chosen.

Now I knew when the clock was built after, but I wanted more. I continued. The next solid mention I found was from almost a year later on April 28, 1999, and showed that there were still some snags.

Then, on June 2 of that year I found my first evidence of actual construction.

I had my range! Somewhere between April 28 and June 2, 1899, the foundation was laid. But could I pin it down exactly? Well, I found that some Lewisham Tradesmen had a dinner on May 4 and that a remark had been made by a Mr. W. J. Sayers about "several local improvements being made - for instance the Jubilee clock tower" which brought laughter from the attendees. Were they laughing at the silliness of the clock itself, or at the problems it was causing? I don't know. The article says nothing else. (I also found that I had to be really careful since around this time other Jubilee Clock Towers were being opened, as well.) Unfortunately, I could find nothing else. Not one single paper on British Newspaper Archives from that stretch of time mentions the project. I had to give up and move on.

On October 6, 1899, I found an ad which references the Tower.

The NEW Clock Tower? Does this mean that it was done? Or were business in the area using the newly being-built feature as a landmark? Can't be sure. I found other ads that used the same line.

Finally, on February 23, 1900, I found when the Tower was dedicated. (How long before this it was actually completed, I couldn't find.)

So, I had a lot info, but not an exact date. I posted the Cover Photo without the date I wanted, but teased everyone by telling them about how much distress the photo had caused me. Hopefully it works and millions of people will read it! (Yeah, right.) But, I tried. I'm sure the answer is out there somewhere, but it isn't a real concern for me now. Lewisham is mentioned in The Canon in 'The Retired Colourman' (RETI) and 'The Abbey Grange' (ABBE), and perhaps one day I'll have to dive back into this to help solve a problem with those cases, but for now I'm satisfied.

So, this is what research looks like. I know I didn't do everything I fly to England and go through some dusty archives looking for answers, or contact elder folk from the Lewisham area and ask about their families folklore hoping to mine out a nugget of data. No, I did all this from my favorite chair, and online.

Anyway, I'm happy you stuck with me on this. Sorry about the length, but at least there were cool photos to look at, right? I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It's All Just Kid's Stuff

Hello, all! Time to give away some more stuff...and this time it's all children-related items. Mostly books, but a couple of other surprises, too. Let's take a look.

I am really getting into this giveaway thing. In fact, I was at a large Sherlockian gathering over the weekend (June 7-9) in Maryland, and didn't buy a single thing from the vendor's tables! That's unprecedented for me. I didn't because I'm giving things away, not buying more. (I did buy more research books, so I'm not completely losing my mind.) There was a door prize drawing for everyone who attended, but the item I grabbed from the options was small and interesting, and may appear on here someday. So, what do we have this time? Well...

Before we get started let me say up front that with only one or two exceptions these items are not in perfect condition. Being children's items it's clear they've been used and enjoyed. They're not junk, just loved. But, you can decide for yourself if they are something you (or someone you know) might enjoy. Here's the first item:

Remember Rugrats? And Angelica? Well, here she is in full Sherlockian uniform...and roller skates! (No pipe, of course.) She's MIB. I've never opened it, and I'm presenting here just as I bought it over a decade ago.

Most people remember Nate the Great, but what about Big Max? This Weekly Reader Books 'I Can Read' title is almost like a Dr. Seuss book in it's illustrations and writing. It's definitely for younger kids. It was published in 1965.
The other item is a two-cassette Nate the Great audio set. They're both in there, and hopefully someone has the ability to play them. I think these were released in the early 1990's.

Freddy the Detective is a well-known name in our hobby, but Shirlick Holmes not so much. The Freddy book is a recent reprint, and is in perfect condition. The Shirlick one is dust-jacketed, and while the book inside is nearly pristine, the DJ shows some wear. It's lightly illustrated, and geared more for the age 10 or so crowd.

The Children's Compendium Classic on the left is a 1999 book in almost-perfect condition. The spine has never had that tell-tale cracking. The only thing wrong with it is a front cover corner wrinkle on the lower right. It is a chapter book with no illustrations. Teenager piece, I'd imagine.
The other book is basically a graphic novel, and is in good condition. It was published in 1977, and at only 61 pages you can bet a looooooot of the original story was left out. It would be best for a young teen, I think.

The book on the right was originally part of a collection, and was published in 1983. It's in wonderful condition, and the spine is still intact. It's handsomely illustrated, and probably be best for the age 10 crowd.
The other one has been well-loved, however. It's from 1956, and was actually (and it says this right inside the cover) 'Free with purchase of 2 lb. Nestle's Quik.' It's not illustrated, and would probably also be in the age 10 grouping.

This 1968 Classic Press, Inc. title is lightly illustrated, and annotated! (I KNOW!) It's a great book that adorns many a Sherlockian shelf, but this one does have its (literal) bumps and bruises. It's perfectly readable, but the page edges have browned over time.

So, there you go. This will be great for anyone with children or grandchildren, or is connected with anywhere kids gather and like good adventures. I have other copies of some of these so that I can read them to my grandbabies, so through things like these Holmes and Watson will live on forever with the next generations.

If you want any other pictures, or have any questions, just let me know on here, by email at, or on Facebook Messenger. I'll be happy to help you out.
So far we've gotten about a dozen responses to this, so good luck. Oh, and here's the trivia question this month:

The terms children, child, and kid appear numerous times in The Canon, but only once is a variant of the word 'kid' used to actually describe a child/children. Name the story...and the variant.

Again, good luck. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.