Top 5 Sherlock Holmes memorabilia ever auctioned

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

On this day in 1859, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

He would go on to change the face of crime fiction forever, with his famous super sleuth Sherlock Holmes ridding London's underworld of its most dastardly villains.

Today, we pay tribute to the author, with our top five Sherlock Holmes memorabilia:

5. Signed presentation copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Signed The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Signed 'with Arthur's love', the book was given to the vendor by Doyle's godchild

Where better to start than a signed edition of the first Sherlock Holmes short stories, compiled into one succinct volume?

Originally published in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892, these 12 adventures were published as a single book in 14 October, 1892, in an initial run of 14,500 copies.

The special presentation copy was signed "with Arthur's love. Nov 8th/92" by Conan Doyle. After being gifted to the vendor by Doyle's godchild, it sold for £45,600 ($85,363) at Christie's in June 2006.

4. Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes cape

Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes cape
Basil Rathbone starred in 14 feature length Sherlock Holmes films, with Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson

A truly iconic piece of memorabilia, this cape was worn by the legendary actor Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Hound of the Baskervilles, the first two of 14 films he shot as the character.

It was sold by Profiles in History in June 2011 for $50,000, with the lucky new owner now able to snoop around in style.

3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Southsea notebooks

The Southsea Notebooks Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle took a keen interest in spiritualism and was a renowned member of The Ghost Club

Doyle wrote this extraordinary collection of notebooks between 1885 and 1889, while he was practising medicine in the English town of Southsea and struggling to find his way as a writer.

Included within the pages are Doyle's meditations on subjects as diverse as literature, history, science and philosophy, including accounts of 10 seances and lists of occult books.

Also featuring is the very beginnings of his first Sherlock Holmes work, which was originally titled A Tangled Skein, but has been crossed out with the familiar A Study in Scarlet.

The three volumes crossed the block at Christie's The Conan Doyle Collection auction in 2004, selling for £139,650 ($247,599).

2. The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire manuscript

Sherlock Holmes Sussex Vampire
Published in 1924, the manuscript sees Holmes investigating real-life cases of vampirism in sleepy Sussex

Sherlock Holmes manuscripts are rarely seen at auction, so when the manuscript for The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire - Doyle's 1924 Sherlock Holmes story - appeared at Christie's New York in 2004, collectors clamoured for the chance to own it.

The 24-page handwritten draft, complete with corrections and notes, sold for an impressive $399,500, making a 99.7% increase on its $200,000 high estimate.

1. Study in Scarlet in Beeton's Christmas Annual

Study in Scarlet Beeton's
Although not the most valuable item, this, in our opinion, is the pinnacle of Sherlock Holmes collecting, with just 11 copies known to exist

This was the very first published work to feature Sherlock Holmes: Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1886.

The story is one of only four full-length novels of the Sherlock Holmes series, with a further 56 short stories exploring the character.

Today, there are just 11 copies known, making them the most desirable piece of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.

The book is remarkable, featuring a superb wood-engraved frontispiece and illustrations throughout. The current record holder sold at Sotheby's in June 2007 for $156,000.  

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic handwritten list from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for sale - the perfect way to celebrate the writings of the greatest crime fiction author of all time.

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