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Every once in a while, there's an item that puts Sherlockian collectors into a fervor. Whether or not the item is within everyone's reach, it creates an aura of excitement and anticipation, wondering what the market will bear. And it almost certainly ends in a battle at the auction house (maybe not as physically violent as the image on the left, but definitely an emotional one).

The most recent item to undergo such scrutiny was an original 1887 Beeton's Christmas Annual - famous for A Study in Scarlet, the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in print. A copy was found in a pile of books at an Oxfam shop in the U.K. and subsequently was put up for auction, eventually bringing in £18,600 (approx. US$36,500). You can read about the entire backstory as well as the auction results here.

Now it seems that there's an original manuscript of one of the Holmes stories up for sale. The 28-page manuscript for "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" is expected to bring nearly £250,000 when it goes under the hammer, according to an article in the Times.

I'm not so certain. The comparable sale they reference is the manuscript for The Sign of Four, which sold for $470,000 (£243,000) at Sotheby's in New York in 1996. I would think that the novels - remember there are only four, and the MSS of The Hound of the Baskervilles was divided up for publicity purposes when the book went on sale - would command a higher premium than any of the 56 short stories. Then again, when collectors have a shot at a true rarity, sanity often times is checked at the door.

For more information about original Doyle manuscripts - Sherlock Holmes-related and otherwise - the definitive resource is Randall Stock's web site. There's a wealth of information available there.