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Abebooks.net has a great post in their Rare Book room called Clues on Collecting Sherlock Holmes (thanks to Mark Wardecker for the link).

Naturally, they had to give a nod to the giant in the field of collecting Sherlockiana, John Bennett Shaw:
It is doubtful that anyone will ever again approach the sheer size of the collection amassed by the late John Bennett Shaw. Like Professor Moriarty, Shaw sat at the center of a vast web whose vibrations seemed to sense the appearance of anything new in the Sherlockian firmament. Shaw had his minions everywhere, and very little escaped him. But times change. The Sherlockian world has grown to such gigantic proportions that no one collector will ever again so dominate the field.
When I started collecting as a college student, I thought I had amassed quite a collection of Sherlock Holmes material when I filled a single row on a bookshelf. Now, I've got three bookcases overflowing, plus at least 5 large boxes of books that don't yet have a home. And there are plenty of books that I don't buy.

Those who knew JBS personally remember a gregarious and generous man - generous with his time and with his collection. The fact that Shaw's collection was the basis for the Sherlock Holmes Collection at the University of Minnesota Libraries certainly proves that.

Personally, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Shaw. If there are any readers out there with a personal experience with the great Sherlockian collector John Bennett Shaw, a comment would be welcome.


Roger Johnson, BSI said... October 10, 2006 at 3:57 AM

I was lucky enough to be introduced to the wider Sherlockian world by an American, Luther L Norris, and among the first people to contact me (yes, they contacted me, not vice-versa) was John Bennett Shaw. We were friends for nearly thirty years, though we met on only two occasions, the second being in 1980 on my first visit to America. John and Dorothy kindly put me up for a couple of nights at their house in Santa Fe, and John actually apologised for the fact that the spare bed was in his library. That fabulous library! People would have paid money to spend a night in that room...

Meeting John was like meeting Father Christmas or Old King Cole. He was a big man, big in heart and spirit and body.

One night shortly before his 81st birthday (and my 47th - we were born on the same day, but decades apart) I dreamed that we met again. It was the only time I remember dreaming of him. The next day I was told that he had died, at about that time.

John Bennett Shaw was 'Big Brother' to generations of little brothers and sisters throughout the world. He was a great Sherlockian, a great collector, and a great friend. Here's to you, John!