Friday, April 20, 2007

Does Your Fortune Lie Off The Beeton's Path?

The world first learned of the existence of master detective Sherlock Holmes from "A Study In Scarlet" published in the Beeton's Christmas Annual of 1887. The popular English magazine had been published since 1860 and went on its merry way for 39 volumes until 1898.

The now-famous issue introducing Holmes and Dr. Watson also included stories by R. Andre' and C. J. Hamilton. It cost one shilling.

That same issue nowadays, however, fetches for considerably more. Indeed, its rarity (and the worldwide popularity of Holmes) makes it probably the most expensive magazine in the world. At a Sotheby's auction in 2004, the 1887 Beeton's Christmas Annual sold for over $150,000.

There are only 28 copies of the 1887 Beeton's Christmas Annual known to exist: 19 in libraries and 9 held by private owners. 10 of these are considered "complete," meaning they still have their original wrappers and advertisements. Only 2 are signed by Arther Conan Doyle whereas a third once did, but that page has been stolen and is now missing.

So, before you toss out that box from your great-aunt's attic, go through it carefully to see if...just maybe... there is an original Superman comic, a signed Mark Twain book or that 1887 Beeton's Christmas Annual hidden inside.

If so, you won't be worrying about house payments for quite awhile.