A first edition of The Hound Of The Baskervilles, printed in London by George Newnes in 1902, sold for $7000 (£5600) by Potter & Potter.

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His extensive collection celebrating the famous detective but also all things Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is being dispersed by the Chicago saleroom, with the first auction held on April 20 and more earmarked for early 2024.

Books penned by Doyle, including first editions, made several of the top results.

Estimated at $2000-3000 but sold for $7000 (£5600) was a first edition of The Hound Of The Baskervilles printed in London by George Newnes in 1902. This example featured illustrations by Sidney Paget and included its original matching box.

A group of seven early American Doyle reprints, possibly pirated editions, was estimated at $500-700 and sold for $5000 (£4000). They were published in the early 20th century by Donohue. The collection included The White Company, Micah Clarke, A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four and others.

The Sign Of Four, Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes novel, appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Vol XLV, January to June, 1890, which was published in London by Ward, Lock and Co and in Philadelphia by JB Lippincott Company in 1890. Described as a ‘near fine copy’ of the ‘scarce special English edition’, it sold for $4600 (£3680) against an estimate of $2000-3000.


The Valley of Fear, a first American edition, Canadian issue published in 1914, sold for $2400 (£1920) at Potter & Potter.

Another impressive individual performer at $2400 (£1920), guide $300-500, was The Valley of Fear, a first American edition, Canadian issue published in 1914 in Toronto by Hodder & Stoughton.

Wide range

Hess’ collection ranged far beyond books to Conan Doyle ephemera, film posters, comic books, photographs and even memorabilia related to Jeremy Brett (1933-95), the British actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes on TV from 1984-94.

Estimated at $100-200 but making $1400 (£1120) was a collection of The Baker Street Journal, edited by Edgar W Smith (1894- 1960), with the complete runs for 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1959, including Christmas annuals, and two other journal issues.

They were published in Morristown, New Jersey, by Baker Street Irregulars in 1956-60. Potter & Potter says the Journal is considered the leading periodical devoted to Sherlockian scholarship. It is still being published to this day. The Irregulars group dates back to 1934.

Spiritualism fascination

Doyle’s signed autograph manuscript for an article ‘The Argument From Necromancy’ made $3525 (£2820), under the low estimate. This was addressed to editor Huntley Carter as a contribution to the book Spiritualism: Its Present-Day Meaning, which was published in July, 1920.

In this two-page letter, Doyle responded to a list of questions related to spiritualism that were sent to a number of distinguished people of the era.

He became one of the leading advocates of the spiritualist movement after the First World War. It has been suggested his interest developed after the death of his eldest son, Kingsley, in 1918 but his obsession took root well before then, it seems.

The auction was the second of six book sales Potter & Potter is holding in 2023, the most the saleroom has staged in a single year.