“we are getting some cards” [SHOS]
Regardless of how one celebrates Christmas, it undoubtedly includes some type of tradition. One of the traditions that we enjoy is sending and receiving Christmas cards to and from fellow Sherlockians.
One of those is a Jerry Margolin, BSI (“Hilton Cubitt”), who made an appearance in the first Collectors’ Corner on Episode 16 of the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast. If you listened, you may recall that Jerry is the leading art collector in the Sherlockians world, and he delights in sharing his collection with others. [If you haven’t listened yet, now is a great time.] But an audio show can only do so much to bring the wonders of an art collection to you, so we’ve got something else.
As his collection began to grow some 40 years ago, Jerry started his own tradition by taking his artwork and turning it into cards for the holiday. We’re fortunate to have been on his “nice” list for a number of years, and we decided to ask Jerry about the story behind the cards - and to share the cards to date with you.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere: When did you first start this tradition? What made you decide to do it?JM: As to the question about how this card madness got started, it really was quite innocent. I moved to Oregon in 1976, and had been to two BSI dinners, while still living in NY. I had met a few Sherlockians at the dinner, but I was 20 something and new to it all, having only started collecting a couple of years before.
I had started corresponding with some people such as John Bennett Shaw, also, a new friend, Andrew Peck and some others when it finally arrived at the holiday season. I received a couple of greeting cards with a Sherlockian theme and thought that was really fun. Fortunately for me, my upstairs neighbor was a graphic artist, so I asked her if she would do a quick drawing of Holmes to use as a card illustration? She did and then I had to find a printer to make the cards. I had printed up way too many at the time, maybe 80? I was optimistic about all the people I would meet and get to know in the Sherlockian world, what did I know at the time?
In any case, I got addresses for as many people as I could and hand wrote out each card and happily mailed them off. Amazingly, I started to get many responses and found that others were doing this also and I accumulated quite a stack of incoming cards. This encouraged me to do another for the next year and so on. I had no idea that it would take on a life of its own and become so looked forward to by so many people in the coming years. I started dating the cards in 1980.
IHOSE: How many cards do you send out? Has that list grown over time?JM: Well, as I stated in the first answer, I just threw out a number to the printer and the card had no limitation printed on it, not even a date. So the next year having received a goodly number of cards, I decided on 50 and figured I would have leftovers to send if I got a card from someone I didn’t really know. As the years went on and I became better known in the Sherlockian world, I began to correspond with more Sherlockians around the U.S. and the world. I developed a list of “regulars” and brought the list to a firm 65.
From time to time over the years, the list has grown and shrunk sometimes unfortunately to the loss of friends who passed beyond the Reichenbach. As time went on I added a few here or there and occasionally people heard about the cards. Some asked if they could be added. I do about 56 cards now, but always have a few extra just in case. I do put the limitation on the card.
IHOSE: You have over 2,500 pieces of Sherlockian art in your collection. How do you go about deciding which to select for a card each year?JM: Whenever I get a new piece of art, I look at it to determine if it might make a good card and be a piece that will interest the people who receive them. There is no real rhyme or reason to it. I wish I could say I use some form of Sherlockian deductive reasoning to make my choices, but no, I just decide on the fly. In iPhoto, on my computer, I do have about 15 pieces set up to be used for the next many years and have already picked the card for next year; no I won’t tell you which one.
I am always thrilled by the responses I get when the cards begin to arrive at their destinations. A lot of people have been kind enough to write me and tell me what they like about the art and how fun it is to receive it. It makes it worthwhile. As I said earlier, it has taken on a life of its own and the cards seem to be much sought after which thrills me to no end. I always send them out the day after Thanksgiving, and they have now come to signal the beginning of the Sherlockian season. One or two people over the years have tried to beat me to being the first card, though I don’t think anyone ever has, though I guess I shouldn’t say that. Someone will send one out after the 4th of July.
IHOSE: Of the cards you've sent out, which are your personal favorites? Why?JM: Wow, that is a tough question, I love my art collection and I do have favorites that are obvious such as the Paget and Steele originals, also the original from Jimmy Stewart, Gahan Wilson and John Romita Sr. who drew Spiderman, for me, as Holmes. Those would be in my top certainly.
One of my all time favorites was the Will Elder (MAD Magazine artist) who was a close friend for almost 40 years. It was Holmes and Watson running down a railroad track saying “At last Watson, we’re on the right track!!“ It is a favorite because it was the only year in which I issued a very limited (about 12) extra cards that inside contained a color piece of art by Will of his character “Little Annie Fannie” wearing nothing but a deerstalker! I kept one and sent the rest to a very select group of people. I got some interesting responses to it, some not so great, but most enjoyed it.
Lastly, the Paget and Steele art since they are the crown jewels of the collection and pieces; to this day, I am always stunned that I own them. They were not in my thought process way back when that they would ever grace my walls. I am glad I could share them with my friends in the Sherlockian world.
The CardsThe following is a complete set of Sherlockian holiday cards from Jerry Margolin. Jerry has provided a description for each one in his own words. If some of the images are out of focus, it's because some are not scans but rather photos taken of the artwork as it hangs on the wall.
|Holmes by fireplace by Judy Aiello. No date, but issued 1977 with no limitation. Drawn for me. My first card.
Cartoon by the Sherlockian Norman Schatell, BSI ("Johnathan Small"). Published from a series of greeting cards created by Schatell. The caption is “Watson, will you look at that idiot Mrs. Hudson?” Holmes and Watson looking at Mrs. Hudson dusting the bust of Holmes as Col. Moran looks to shoot it. Dated 1980. Limited to 60.
|Holmes looking at an eagle while reading the “Maltese Falcon” by artist Hank Hinton. Dated 1981. Limit of 60. A published newspaper cartoon.
|Published newspaper cartoon by Jim Hummel. Artist inscribed it to me. Holmes with a birthday cake sipping wine and reading newspaper. Hummel sent this to me as a gift. Dated 1982. Limit of 60.
|Original Bugs Bunny comic page from Looney Tunes comic #63 Jan. 1947. Dated 1983. Limit of 60.
|Holmes with 3 pipes. Drawn for me by the great Henry Lauritzen, BSI ("The Royal Family of Scandinavia") who was a longtime friend. Inscribed to me by the artist. Dated 1987. Limit of 65.
|"Spiderman.” Artist is John Romita, Sr., one of the creators of Spiderman. This card has several significant points to it. It was my first color card and in those days before iPhoto, I had 65 photo prints made and hand glued each to the face of the card. It was also used as a dedication to two of the greatest Sherlockians, J. Bliss Austin, BSI ("The Engineer's Thumb") and Marvin Epstein, BSI ("Count Negretto Sylvius") upon their passing. Dated 1988. Limit of 65 cards.
|“At Last Watson, We’re On the Right Track!” Drawn for me by MAD artist and close friend of 40 plus years Will Elder. Again, done in color as a photo print pasted down to card by hand. Will drew it for me in 1977. Card sent in 1989. Limited to 70.
|I also issued a separate very limited edition of this card which contained another Elder drawing of “Little Annie Fannie” wearing only a deerstalker hat! Limitation says 15 cards, but I tend to think it was only 12. Most enjoyed the little surprise extra card, but a few did not. Only those who received this card would own a complete set of my cards. [Editor's note: for the original NSFW version, click the image above or here.]
|Holmes in a trench coat rather than Inverness. Drawn for me by MAD artist Jack Davis in 1980. Dated 1993. Limited to 75.
|Starting the new century, I chose my favorite Holmes, Peter Cushing, as drawn by a great friend and amazing artist from Canada, Charles Prepolec. I badgered him into parting with a piece of his art and have acquired a few more over the years. I am not sure what this was done for, but I think it was a published piece. Dated 2000. Limited to 75 cards.
|Sherlock Holmes by Alan Weiss, known for his drawings of Tarzan for DC Comics. This card might qualify as one of the two saddest cards for me to have used as a dedication to a passed Sherlockian. This card was used to say my personal goodbye to Richard Lancelyn Green, BSI ("The Three Gables"). Dated 2004 and limited to 65 cards.
|The Spirit and Holmes by Will Eisner. Eisner is one of the greatest comic illustrators ever. This is the only time Eisner drew Holmes and the only time the two characters ever appeared together. Having his work in my collection was a dream come true and I won it on eBay at about 2:00 in the morning. I bid more money than I ever have, but got it for much less than I thought. Eisner drew it for the 1987 UK Comic Art Convention program where he was the guest of honor. As to getting a matching program, it took me almost two more years to find one by calling and emailing people in England who had been associated with the convention. One guy finally said, “I have a stack of them in my attic, how many do you want?” I took two! Dated 2006 limited to 60 cards.
|Will Elder dedication card upon his passing. Holmes using a reducing glass to make Watson smaller. This was the humor of my longtime friend and great artist, Will Elder of MAD Magazine fame. He was a friend for over 40 years and I used to spend the day at his home for many years when in New York City for the Baker Street Irregulars Weekend. He very kindly drew this for me. Dated 2008 and limited to 60 cards.
|Peter Cushing as Holmes by David O’Keefe. David is well know for his caricatures of sports figures and celebrities. He very kindly did this commission for me and turned out better than I had imagined. Dated 2012 and limited to 60 cards.
|"Holmes opened it and smelled the single cigar which it contained." - Sherlock Holmes from “The Resident Patient” by Sidney Paget. This art is the crown jewel of my art collection. It took me 22 years to finally own this art and I have had it now for almost 30 years. It is any Sherlockian’s dream come true to own an original Holmes by Paget. To this day, I can truthfully say that whenever I go into my library/gallery room, I get a thrill every time I see it there. I have been pleased to share it with any visiting Sherlockian that arrives at my home. Finally, I thought this image was fitting to use for my dedication to my longtime friend, Jerry Wachs, BSI ("Sir James Saunders") upon his passing. He was a great friend and a gentle soul. Dated 2014. Limited to 60 cards.
We’ve always thoroughly enjoyed receiving Jerry’s cards, and we always anticipate the early arrival of them. We’ll be looking forward to next year’s card with continued excitement!