The Treasure Hunt, Second Appetizer: Answer

Dear All,

I have received many ingenious replies, but only one team gave the correct one.
The SOB Team (Margie and Sheila) hit the mark perfectly and the best I can do is to quote their answer literally:
–Place & Name of the ‘Ghost’: British Museum /  British Museum Underground Station, no longer in use
–Stories, where it is noted Holmes went to the British Museum: HOUN, WIST
“I learned at the British Museum that he was a recognized authority upon the subject, and that the name of Vandeleur has been permanently attached to a certain moth which he had, in his Yorkshire days, been the first to describe.”
“One morning he spent in town, and I learned from a casual reference that he had visited the British Museum. Save for this one excursion, he spent his days in long, and often solitary, walks, or in chatting with a number of village gossips whose acquaintance he had cultivated.”
“I spent a morning in the British Museum reading up that and other points. Here is a quotation from Eckermann’s `Voodooism and the Negroid Religions’: – ”  
–British Museum was a station on the London Underground, located in Holborn, central London. It was latterly served by the Central line and took its name from the nearby British Museum in Great Russell Street.
The station was opened by the Central London Railway in 1900. In 1933, with the expansion of Holborn station, less than 100 yards away, British Museum station was permanently closed. It was subsequently utilised as a military office and command post, but in 1989 the surface building was demolished and the remainder of the station is wholly disused.
–Ghost stations is the usual English translation for the German word Geisterbahnhöfe. This term was used to describe certain stations on Berlin’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro networks that were closed during the period of Berlin’s division during the Cold War. Since then, the term has come to be used to describe any disused underground station actively passed through by passenger trains, especially those on an underground railway line.

So, just a little clarification: I decided to cut this question out of the Hunt because the use of the term “ghost station” is not as familiar in English as is Geisterbahnhöfe to the Germans or “stazione fantasma” to the Italians. If you search the internet for a list of former London Underground stations you will probably find them described as “abandoned stations” or “disused stations”, not as “ghost stations”. This made the question very difficult indeed.
I must congratulate my fellow members of Uno Studio in Holmes who sent incredibly elaborate answers, digging deeply in the lore and tradition of English and German ghosts, in literature and otherwise. I kept telling them that it was easier than that… 🙂
Other valiant efforts were made by Robert Perret and Richard Olken. Thanks everybody for your answers.
We’re just about one week from the start of the Hunt. Keep your wits sharpened!

Michele, JHWS “Reggie”

The Treasure Hunt: Second Appetizer

Dear All,

as the deadline for the Hunt approaches, I have been busy in a revision process of the 100 questions. Using the feedback from the first test question, I had to come to a painful decision. One question was cut out because a certain turn of phrase would have been somewhat unfair to English-speaking people (ironically, Germans would have had significant advantages).

Since it was one of my favourite questions (and, I guess, the most difficult of the batch) I don’t want to let it die. So I submit it here for your consideration.
Hint: the solution is also the name of a London Underground station.

“No ghosts need apply”, said once Holmes. Nevertheless, he occasionally spent some time in a place that has the same name of a “ghost”. Which place? In which story or stories does he visit it?

I think that if you can guess this one, you will do very well indeed in the Hunt.

The solution will be posted at the end of next week. Have fun!

The Treasure Hunt Test Question

Dear all,

running a test question has been a useful and instructive experience. I hope I have learned something about how to put my questions correctly in order that they may be challenging but not impossible.
The test question proved itself harder that I judged at first. I promise that feedback will be incorporated in the final revision of the questions for the Hunt.

Only one team gave the correct answer: Margie Deck, “Mopsy” and Sheila Holtgrieve, “Daisy”.
The revised text of the question:
“The two friends sat over this while talking about a man who had a turbulent relationship with a person homonymous (same first and last name) of one of them. Name the friends, the man, and what they sat over.”

Answer: The two friends: Sherlock Holmes and John H Watson; the man: Paganini; what they sat over: a bottle of claret.
“This led him to Paganini, and we sat for an hour over a bottle of claret while he told me anecdote after anecdote of that extraordinary man.” (CARD, 894)
The tricky part was the connection between Paganini and a man named John Watson. Watson was an impresario and pianist who played with Paganini on a tour. Later Paganini fell in love with Watson’s daughter, Charlotte, and asked her to marry him, but Watson prevented the marriage and a bitter feud ensued between the two former colleagues.
I honestly remembered that this was an easier information to find, but I noticed too late that it’s not mentioned on Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica online articles on Paganini and it requires some more extended internet search.
I promise that other references of this kind will not be so hard to discover. The use of a common encyclopaedia or a good reference book (such as Jack Tracy’s Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana) should be enough.
Congratulations to the winners and don’t despair, this should actually be the highest level of difficulty that you will find in the Hunt (about 10% of questions shall be of this type).

The 5th Annual John H Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt

Dear fellow members,

as your Treasure Hunt Master for this year, it is my duty and pleasure to announce that the game is almost afoot. 100 Canonical questions are ready to be submitted to your (hopefully) eager brains. I hope that the challenge will be stimulating and fun.

The Hunt will open on midnight, July 31st, PST, corresponding to 9 a.m., August 1st, (CET) here in Italy. I have chosen the hour as an homage to our previous Hunt Master, Margie Deck a.k.a. “Gwen”, who lives on the Pacific coast. You can submit your answers until midnight, August 31st, PST.

As this is my first experience and, furthermore, I am not a native English speaker, I must admit that I’m a little uncertain regarding the form of the questions. I will be of course ready to help and clarify anything that might result in a misunderstanding on the meaning of certain expressions in the quiz.

To test this, I have a question to submit as an appetizer. You have one week to submit an answer.
“The two friends sat over this while talking about a man who had a turbulent relationship with an homonymous of one of them. Name the friends, the man, and what they sat over.”

This is one question that I would rate “medium hard” among those included in the Hunt.

Please submit your answers to

I hope to see many participants in this Hunt and that everybody will have fun!

Your Hunt Master

Michele, JHWS “Reggie”

Quiz Results: Tuscan Luxury

Enrico Solito (“Devon”) sent us a very tricky quiz question indeed, with the only correct answer coming from the team of Sheila Holtgrieve (“Daisy”) and Margie Deck (“Mopsy”), who wrote:

Engraved portrait of Giovanni Boccaccio by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen (1822)

The Tuscan is Giovanni Boccaccio.  He famous book, the Decameron, was found amongst Enoch J. Drebber’s pocket contents in the house at Lauriston Gardens (STUD, p. 30).  It was found with the luxury items of a gold watch by Barraud of London, a heavy gold chain, a gold ring, a gold pin with rubies in the bull dog’s head, and a Russian leather card case.  Wow—this man had some bucks!

Also, the history of the Decameron plus some story threads in the individual stories may have some relation to/similarity with A Thousand and One Nights. mentioned in NOBL, p. 296 in connection with the luxuries of the “epicurean little cold supper” that Holmes ordered.

Honourable Mention goes to Robert Perret (“Sampson”), who suggested:

Do you perhaps refer to Goldini, the proprietor of a garish restaurant in BRUC? I understand his cigars, likely the famous Toscanos, are less poisonous than one might expect.

Well done, all three of you, and thank you again, “Devon”!

If you’ve been bitten by the bug to create your own Canonical Quiz, send questions (and answers, please!) to Selena.

A Quiz – and a New Book! – from Italy

This week’s quiz question comes from Enrico Solito (JHWS “Devon”), who asks:

Who is the Tuscan connected with luxury in the Canon?

For full marks, name the Tuscan and explain the Canonical connection. Send your answers by email to the JHWS Quizmaster by March 26.

We’re also pleased to announce that our “Devon” is among the contributors to His Everlasting Bow: Italian Studies in Sherlock Holmes, edited by Alessandra Calanchi (JHWS “Bianca”) and Stephen Knight, published by Aras Edizioni.

The description from the publisher sounds most intriguing:

Are Sherlock Holmes studies outdone? Has everything already been said and written about Baker Street, the Baskervilles, and the like? This volume answers these questions and dispels any doubts on the matter by presenting some of the most recent and original Italian scholarship focussing on the Sacred Canon and its long-lasting legacy in the international arena. From coding strategies to collecting Sherlockiana, from war(s) in Afghanistan to literary tourism, from the TV series of the 1960s to today’s tweets, His Everlasting Bow marks the state-of-art studies in the field and opens new fascinating trajectories of interpretation and research. The contribution of eminent scholars is matched by some outstanding pastiches and the experimental work of a group of young researchers.
Professor Stephen Knight’s foreword is simply the icing on the cake. And a treat is in store for the Sherlock Holmes Society of Italy Uno Studio in Holmes, as this volume is intended as a gift on the occasion of its 30th birthday (Florence 1987). His Everlasting Bow is also dedicated to the memory of Nando Gazzolo (1928-2015), the only Italian actor who has ever interpreted the Great Detective.

Contributors (in order of appearance): Valerio Viviani, Gabriele Mazzoni, Caterina Marrone, Enrico Solito, Stella Mattioli, Enrico and Fabio Petrella, Alessandra Calanchi and Nando Gazzolo, Marco Grassi, Luca Sartori, Gian Italo Bischi, Raniero Bastianelli, Matteo Bischi, Ruben Costa, Luisa Fanucci, Elena Garbugli, Adele Guerra, Francesca Secci, Stefano Serafini.

Test Your Canonical Knowledge

Sherlockian author Tim Symonds let us know about a Canonical quiz he composed over at Education Quizzes: Fictional Characters – Sherlock Holmes. (Wait a second…. What’s this fictional business?!) I scored 100%, but the best part is the additional information revealed once you submit your answer to each question.

Tim Symonds is author of five novels about Holmes and Watson. The most recent is Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil. (A review will be posted later this week, so watch this space!)

Cover image of Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim SymondsIt’s the year 1906. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it.

China’s fate and the interests of Britain’s Empire in the Orient could be at stake.

Holmes and Watson take up the mission with their customary confidence – until they find they are no longer in the familiar landscapes of Edwardian England. Instead, they tumble into the Alice In Wonderland world of the Forbidden City in Peking.

Quiz Results: Like an Animal

RESULTS: In order of submission, 5/5 to:

  • Margie Deck, “Gwen”, and Sheila Holtgrieve, “Daisy”
  • Michael Ellis, “Lobo”

Well done, everyone!

And, of course, the ANSWERS:

  1. Who is it?
    • Baron Adelbert Gruner
  2. What are the animals?
    • A Cat: “A purring cat who thinks he sees prospective mice” and “He’s a precise, tidy cat of a man in many of his ways.”
    • A Cobra: “He is an excellent antagonist, cool as ice, silky voiced and soothing as one of your fashionable consultants, and poisonous as a cobra.”
    • An Insect: “The Baron has little waxed tips of hair under his nose, like the short antennae of an insect.”
  3. In which story does the person appear?
    • “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client”

Quiz: Like an Animal

This week’s Quiz is a single question, submitted by Enrico Solito, JHWS “Devon”

Animals are important in the Canon. In four different sentences, one person is described with similarities to three different animals. Who is it, what are the animals, and in which story does the person appear?

Submit your answers for a total of 5 possible points (1 person, 3 animals, 1 story) by email to Selena by Sunday, October 23.

If you’ve been bitten by the bug to create your own Canonical Quiz, don’t forget you can send your questions to Selena, too!

Quiz Results: The Solitary Cyclist

RESULTS: In order of submission, 10/10 to:

  • Paul Hartnett, “Scout”
  • Ron Lies, “Chips”
  • Enrico Solito, “Devon”
  • Michael Ellis, “Lobo”
  • Margie Deck, “Gwen”, and Sheila Holtgrieve, “Daisy”
  • Elinor Gray, “Misty”
  • Alessandro Melillo
  • Stephanie Thomas, “Hyacinth”

Well done, everyone!

And, of course, the ANSWERS:

  1. Watson is very specific about the day and date that Miss Violet Smith visits 221B. He is also incorrect. When does he say she came, and why is it wrong?
    1. Saturday, April 23, 1895
    2. April 23, 1895, was a Tuesday
  2. Holmes says engaging in this sport is “always a treat”. What sport, and where did he engage in it?
    1. Boxing
    2. The “country pub” near Charlington
  3. This city was the target of a devastating attack 45 years later, but at the time of this story, it is home to a person most significant to Miss Violet Smith. What city, and whom does she say is there?
    1. Coventry
      Note: Ron Lies, “Chips”, and the team of Margie Deck, “Gwen”, and Sheila Holtgrieve, “Daisy”, sent in an alternate answer of “Westminster” – Cyril Morton lived there at the end of the story, and Westminster was also bombed in 1940.
    2. Her fiance, Cyril Morton
  4. This was an unconventional way to choose a groom, especially as neither candidate had yet met the bride. How was the decision made, and between what two parties?
    1. A game of cards
    2. Bob Carruthers and Jack Woodley
  5. It may have felt like 90 days, but it was really nowhere near that long. What, and how long was it?
    1. Mr Woodley’s visit to Chiltern Grange
    2. One week