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"a curious constitution" [SIGN]

BSI Constitution and Buy Laws - inscribed to Christopher Morley from Vincent Starrett

We've had the pleasure of sharing many of the goings-on of the annual Baker Street Irregulars Weekend previously. If you'd like to read up on past goings-on, please take a look at the Topics section at the bottom of our home page and select the year you're interested in (BSI2011, BSI2010, etc.).

But one of the things we haven't had the opportunity to cover here is the origin and text of the BSI's Constitution and Buy-Laws (yes, that's the correct spelling - as far as the BSI is concerned). The document is referenced throughout the BSI Archival Series and was first presented to the public in Profile By Gaslight: An Irregular reader about the private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Edgar W. Smith, longtime leader of the BSI and editor of the Baker Street Journal.

Elmer Davis, BSI ("A Case of Identity") wrote the BSI Constitution and Buy-Laws around the time of the founding of the Baker Street Irregulars in 1934, to document the tongue-in-cheek attitude that pervaded the BSI (and still pervades it to this day). Each year at the BSI Dinner, a member reads the document to the assembled crowd and in unison, we all chant the fifth buy-law together.
Here we present the Constitution and Buy-Laws of the Baker Street Irregulars in its entirety:

The Constitution and Buy-Laws of the Baker Street Irregulars

Article I

The name of the society shall be the Baker Street Irregulars.

Article II

Its purpose shall be the study of the Sacred Writings.

Article III

All persons shall be eligible for membership who pass an examination in the Sacred Writings set by officers of the society, and who are considered otherwise suitable.

Article IV

The officers shall be: a Gasogene, a Tantalus, and a Commissionaire.
   The duties of the Gasogene shall be those commonly performed by a President.
   The duties of the Tantalus shall be those commonly performed by a Secretary.
   The duties of the Commissionaire shall be to telephone down for ice, White Rock, and whatever else may be required and available; to conduct all negotiations with waiters; and to assess the members pro rata for the cost of same.

The BSI Buy-laws

  1. An annual meeting shall be held on January 6th, at which the canonical toasts shall be drunk; after which the members shall drink at will.
  2. The current round shall be bought by any member who fails to identify, by title of story and context, and quotation from the Sacred Writings submitted by any other member.
    1. Qualification A. If two or more members fail so to identify, a round shall be bought by each of those so failing.
    2. Qualification B. If the submitter of the quotation, upon challenge, fails to identify it correctly, he shall buy the round
  3. Special meetings may be called at any time or any place by any one of three members, two of whom shall constitute a quorum.
    1. Qualification A. If said two people are of opposite sexes, they shall use care in selecting the place of meeting, to avoid misinterpretation (or interpretation either, for that matter).
  4. All other business shall be left for the monthly meetings.
  5. There shall be no monthly meetings.

Canonical Toasts

The obligatory canonical toasts are typically as follows: to the Woman, Irene Adler; the Master, the Doctor and, of course, long suffering Mrs. Hudson. These are always followed by toasts of varying propriety to the more colorful characters of the Canon and often the less fortunate fellow Irregulars.

Image courtesy of Toronto Public Library Special Collections (Flickr)