London and New York: Strand, 1891-1927. First Edition. Paperback. 79 vols. 1st appearances anywhere, in the original monthly parts, of all 56 stories and both of the novels (The Adventures, The Memoirs, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Return, Valley of Fear, His Last Bow, and The Casebook), being every Holmes story that Doyle ever wrote, and the 2 novels published serially in these magazines (only A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four were not published in the Strands). All are the “London and NY” issues except The Hound which is imprinted “NY and London.” Half the spines faded, some chips, tears, and strengthening, else very good, and most crucially, it’s all here, and rarer than a football player blaming God for a defeat, and it’s quite a beguiling time capsule of wide ranging content, fashion, illustration and advertising. Good. Item #21
The first modern media spectacle, and the model for all that followed, exploded when these Strands were issued. After the first 2 or 3 stories, unprecedented buzz generated long queues, stretching for blocks, at newsstands on the day of the months that each was published. Yet, despite those sales, sets in wrappers are now of the utmost rarity, but in reverse of their chronology. The Adventures and The Memoirs are seen occasionally, and sets of them are 100 times rarer in wrappers than when they’ve been rebound, or in the annual Strand collected clothbound form that is so often seen, or even the later cloth 1st editions. The Hound is 5 times scarcer again than The Adventures or Memoirs and the same proportions hold true for its relative scarcity over the bound Strands or the clothbound 1st edition. Then it gets crazy. Complete sets of The Return and Valley of Fear, in wrappers, are rare, and significantly less obtainable than their predecessors, and complete runs of His Last Bow and The Casebook, might as well be impossible. In fact, hopes for finding any of the last 4 in wrappers, complete with all their covers, other contents and ads, belong in the morgue, as few booksellers, collectors or librarians, have ever seen a single set of them for sale, at any price, in any condition. Sherlock Holmes is the most durable, and most famous, character in the entire landscape of literature, and the stories are sheer stardust, the morphine drip of impeccably contrived, mind expanding detective fiction, and the most often imitated, parodied and adapted works in the English language.