Chips & Selena


On February 24th… Another Detective, Another Doctor

There was a detective who had books put out about his adventures. Some of those volumes had titles like The Adventures, The Return, The Memoirs, and The Casebook. It came to 70 stories by the original author.

The Detective had a companion, a medical Doctor who was a widower. The Doctor moved out of the flat they shared together when he remarried. In the United States, there grew up a society to honor the detective and authorized other groups around the country to do the same.

Artwork by Charles Hall (Hat tip to Bob Byrne for identifying the artist!)

This group was called the PSI. The Detective is Solor Pons.

The author of the Solar Pons series, August Derleth, was born on February 24, 1909 in Sauk City, Wisconsin.

For more details, check the stories and you will find the love of the author for our Holmes and Watson in his Pons and Parker.

Information provided from the volume A Curious Collection of Dates by by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”).

Posted by The Dynamic Duo: ‘Chips’ aka Ron and ‘Selena’ aka Beth

On February 23rd… The Singular Affair of the Aluminum

Name the two cases these quotes are from if you would like:

We all filed into the front room and sat round the central table while the Inspector unlocked a square tin box and laid a small heap of things before us. There was a box of vestas, two inches of tallow candle, an A D P brier-root pipe, a pouch of seal-skin with half an ounce of long-cut Cavendish, a silver watch with a gold chain, five sovereigns in gold, an aluminum pencil-case, a few papers, and an ivory-handled knife with a very delicate, inflexible bade marked Weiss & Co., London.


Here’s the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife.

Portrait of Charles Martin Hall
Portrait of Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914)


What do these two quotations have in common? Aluminum!

Charles Martin Hall was able to isolate “aluminum metal by passing an electric current through a solution of aluminum oxide in molten cryoliteFebruary 23, 1886.

The “Hall Process” made aluminum available for use in relatively inexpensive commercial products like the pencil-case and crutch above.

Information provided from the volume A Curious Collection of Dates, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), with additional information on the Hall Process from the American Chemical Society.

On February 22nd…

February 22, 1886: The beryl coronet was reclaimed by its owner. [BERY]

Illustration for the Beryl Coronet by J C Drake
J C Drake illustration for the Chicago Inter-Ocean

“That would be unnecessary. Three thousand will cover the matter. And there is a little reward, I fancy. Have you your cheque-book? Here is a pen. Better make it out for four thousand pounds.”

With a dazed face the banker made out the required cheque. Holmes walked over to his desk, took out a little triangular piece of gold with three gems in it, and threw it down upon the table.

With a shriek of joy our client clutched it up.

“You have it!” he gasped. “I am saved! I am saved!”

The reaction of joy was as passionate as his grief had been, and he hugged his recovered gems to his bosom.

“There is one other thing you owe, Mr. Holder,” said Sherlock Holmes, rather sternly.

“Owe!” He caught up a pen. “Name the sum, and I will pay it.”

“No, the debt is not to me. You owe a very humble apology to that noble lad, your son, who has carried himself in this matter as I should be proud to see my own son do, should I ever chance to have one.”

Information provided by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI, from his book, A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes.

On February 17th… The Birth of a Sherlockian Scholar

February 17, 1888: On this date, the Reverend Monsignor Ronald A Knox, one of the most eminent original Sherlockian scholars, was born. Although he was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, he converted to Catholicism, becoming a Roman Catholic priest in 1918, later a Monsignor. He is best known for writing the paper Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.

Available from Gasogene Books (Wessex Press)

If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything pleasant in criticism, it is finding out what we aren’t meant to find out. It is the method by which we treat as significant what the author did not mean to be significant, by which we single out as essential what the author regarded as incidental. […] There is, however, a special fascination in applying this method to Sherlock Holmes, because it is, in a sense, Holmes’s own method. ‘It has long been an axiom of mine,’ he says, ‘that the little things are infinitely the most important.’ It might be the motto of his life’s work.

This paper has generated years of Sherlockian studies. It was presented to the Gryphon Club in 1911, published in The Blue Book Magazine in 1912, and republished a number of times, including in Knox’s Essays in Satire in 1928. [The link above will take you to a PDF file of the paper in Blackfriars v1 n3 (June 1920), hosted at the University of Minnesota. -Selena Buttons]

In a response to the paper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that “Holmes changed entirely as the stories went on” but that “Watson never for one instant as chorus and chronicler transcends his own limitations. Never once does a flash of wit or wisdom come from him. All is remorsely eliminated so that he may be Watson.” [A frankly absurd assertion! -Selena Buttons]

My source for the information on Knox’s birthdate comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional information about the presentation and publication of “Studies of the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” and Dr Doyle’s response comes from The Ronald Knox Society of North America. -Selena Buttons]