TalkA mystery to confound Sherlock Holmes himself!

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A mystery to confound Sherlock Holmes himself!

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Edited: Jun 29, 2010, 10:16pm

This might get to be a long post, so bear with me...

As some of you know, I have been trying to collect the complete set of three Sherlock Holmes books from EP. Rather than just order them from the website, I decided to go after my favorite (and slightly more rare) covers. There are three different cover styles that I have seen for this series. The oldest has a large thumb-print on the covers. Next came three separate covers which featured spyglasses, hats, and pipes. (these are the ones I decided to collect) Finally, the most recent covers, and the ones currently for sale at the EP website, are generic flourishes which are identical for all three volumes.

There are three books in the series:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Later Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

This all seems very simple so far, except that I found there are many different editions of these books, and I need some advice from the experts on this website to help me decide what to do next. Here's the story of how I ended up with the books that I have:

The first book is very easy to come by, as it was featured in the 100 greatest books collection. It is, in fact, the very FIRST EP book I ever bought or saw. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is single-handedly responsible for getting me addicted to EP books...beware this title! Anyway, I grabbed it off of ebay for around 20 dollars.

The other two books are much harder to find. I saw an ebay auction for the "later" adventures, and was able to win it at the rather steep price of 65 dollars. I was 2/3 of the way there.

Then, there was an ebay auction which contained both the "Final" adventures and the original "adventures" book which I won for around 75 dollars. I almost didn't bid on this, as I did not want the duplicate book, but I decided to simply sell it once it arrived, and my collection would be complete. Here's some photos of all 4 books:

Identical, right? WRONG!!! On the title page of each book, I was able to see that they came from not one, not two, but THREE different series, each with identical-looking covers, but different content within.

The original book I bought was from the 100 Greatest series. The "later" adventures came from the Collectors Library of Famous Editions, and the last two books were from the Collector's Edition, AKA "The Complete Sherlock Holmes 100th Anniversary Edition."

After doing some research, I figured out where all of these different editions come from:

The 100 greatest is obvious, but it is of note that the original "Adventures" is the ONLY Sherlock book included in the 100 greatest series. If you want the other two, you have to look a bit harder.

The "Collector's Library of Famous Editions" version came from the now discontinued series of the same name. Strangely, only books 2 and 3 could be obtained from this series. Like most books from this series, they were only offered for a short time, and then retired (long before the series itself was retired) As far as I know, the ONLY cover art you will find on these are the hats and pipes. This edition was only around for a very brief time, and this happened to be the motif that they were using at the time.

The "Collector's Edition" books were what you got if you ordered the complete set from EP all at once. These are different still from both other editions.

I want to point out some differences I noticed between these editions. I will start by comparing the two "Adventures" copies I have. Recall one of them is from the 100 greatest series, and the other is a collector's edition that you would have gotten if you'd have bought all 3 books in a set.

Overall, it is surprising to note that the 100 greatest edition is superior in almost every way to the collector's edition. I find this surprising, since it is the less costly of the two, but that's typical EP absurdity. The first thing to note is that the binding on the 100 greatest is much thicker than on the collector's edition. The leather and cardboard is nearly twice the thickness of the other, and it is significant enough that it is definitely not simply a printing inconsistency. The book feels heavier and much better in the hand as a result of this. Also, the binding on the 100 greatest edition has a much more pronounced curve, and this is very salient when you see the book sitting on the shelf next to the others. I attempted to capture this in a photo, with the 100 greatest edition on the right:

Secondly, the first few pages on the interior of the books are different. The end papers are identical, but after turning two pages, the 100 greatest has a title page which is missing from the other (probably because they did not want to print on the back of the glossy sheet):

Next, the portrait page differs considerably. The 100 greatest has the usual author portrait, while the Collector's Edition has a color illustration by Steele, which is on a glossy sheet:

Next, the 100 greatest goes into its usual publisher's preface, while this is missing from the collector's edition:

After this, the 100 greatest goes into the introduction, which is identical to the CE. The books are identical from that point on. What I find interesting, is that in the CE, the introduction has the SAME PAGE NUMBERING as in the 100 greatest. To clarify, the pages in the 100 greatest preface are numbered I - IV, with the Introduction starting on V. In the CE, the Introduction still starts on V, even though the preface is missing. That means the preface must have existed first, and was deliberately removed for the publication of the CE. Weird. The rest of the books are identical, though, including the type of paper, thickness, margins, spacing, smell...everything is page for page identical to the end.

Next, I'll compare the "Famous Editions" (FE) book to the "Collector's Edition" (CE) book. Remember, Later Adventures is the FE and Final Adventures is another CE. I will be going on the assumption that the other FE and CE books I'm missing are identical in format to the ones I have.

Overall, these books are much more similar than the 100 greatest volume, though there are still a few minute details to point out. First of all, the FE has a SILVER gilt on the page ends, rather than the gold that all of the other books are using. I hope this came out in the picture:

Both books have the same thinner leather covers, and a lack of publisher's preface AND introduction of any kind. The FE has a glossy insert illustration, just like the CE, but you'll notice the recognizable "wreath" logo that EP stamps on all of their prized FE titles:

Strangely, the FE is missing the usual publishing information that is on every other EP book I've ever seen:

Other than that, the volumes are identical. Same moire end papers, same paper type, margins, font, etc. For some reason, the FE feels....I don't know...different, when you hold it. It just feels better in the hand, somehow. Might be the smaller size of the book, but I don't know.

One other item of note is the "Notes from the Archives" which comes with the CE set. This somewhat replaces the publisher's preface, but is not nearly as informative, and would have been nicer if included inside the book instead of a small, useless pamphlet.

So, the conundrum I'm left with is that I have literally one book from each series, and after all that, I have no matched set! I don't know what to do. I hate to sell the 100 greatest copy, because it is the nicest of the bunch. I hate to sell the FE because I know how much those are worth! But I hate not having a matched set! I should just sell the FE and the 100 greatest, since I'm 2/3 of the way to having the complete collector's set.

I realize that the FE books are worth a lot of money (usually) but I wonder in this case if that is necessarily so. The FE is so closely identical to the cheaper CE, that I wonder if anyone really cares any more what series the books come from. Then again, maybe I should just sell the "Adventures" CE, and have one of each for the sheer joy of it! But then I'd have to part with my "collector's notes." Oh what to do!

Can't believe how long this got. If you made it all the way through this, I hope it at least helped you understand all the different Sherlock collecting options you have...for this series of covers, anyway! Three cheers for Easton Press, for keeping our lives interesting by switching things up every 2 weeks!

Jun 29, 2010, 11:10pm

I like the pics!
The Famous Editions are my favorite EP books. Note that they are *not* necessarily worth more than any other EP book. I have seen a few FE books sell for a lot of money, but many sell for around $25, the same as most any EP book. EP is in fact republishing many of the FE books, so the value of that set is depreciating. Nevertheless, I personally think it's a beautiful set. I can't give you any definitive advice on which set to collect, however if you do decide to sell/trade the FE copy of Sherlock Holmes please let me know.



Edited: Aug 30, 2014, 2:46pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 30, 2010, 4:00am

I bought my set from EP about twenty years ago -- all three are the Collector's Edition and have the same covers as yours. Your photos, however, sent me rushing upstairs to confirm set does not include the "100th Anniversary" pamphlet (I always leave them inserted in the books they come with).

When was the "official" 100th anniversary publication of this set -- did I buy mine before or after? Did EP re-label an existing set "100th anniversary" (the only difference being the pamphlet) or did they simply run out of pamphlets before they ran out of books?

The game is still afoot...

Jun 30, 2010, 6:28pm

If it was me I would keep all of them simply for collecting purposes. :D

Edited: Jun 30, 2010, 9:51pm

Wailofatail: Sounds like I need to keep one of each, just to prove I can! This is a crossroads in my collecting life, actually. If I go out and spend MORE money in order to acquire a matched set, the precedent will set me on the road to ruin. I need to do a bit more thinking, but I believe that if I can sell that "adventure" collector's edition, and keep one of each series and still be happy, I'll be a much less...addicted collector :)

I am just naturally that way, though, with everything I collect. I like the context, and the background info on the item I'm acquiring. Doesn't mean I need to have one of each; I usually end up just collecting the items I really want, and letting the rest slip. Time will tell, I guess...

Anyway, back to Sherlock, I'm very curious if anyone has the more recent "generic flourish" covers. If so, are they the same as the collector's editions I have pictured? From the looks of the title page on the EP website the title page looks identical, so I'm guessing the editions are the same. One thing I have noticed about the new editions is that the thickness of all three books is IDENTICAL, unlike the editions I have. This means either font and spacing or paper was changed, or the divisions between the books is now different. If anyone can provide pictures, I'd really like to know.

Jul 2, 2010, 12:21pm


This is an amazing post and it has got me wondering about whether all of the "100 Greatest" edition books are of the heavier thicker leather grade? Can someone maybe find out?

Edited: Jul 2, 2010, 8:12pm

This would be a very difficult thing to "prove," but from what I've read and heard on these message boards, the 100 Greatest collection generally has the superior bindings to other collections. The exception being those "one-off" deluxe editions like our friend Whinnie the Pooh over here.

Glad you enjoyed the post, it took me all night to write, and I was hoping it would spark some discussion, or at least give us something to ponder.

Jul 3, 2010, 6:49am

I wouldn't say the binding on the 100 greatest is the only one that is superior. The Jane Austen set I just received amazed me, you should feel the thickness of these books! They are better than any of my 100 greatest books! The spine is very round too, my 100 greatest are a bit flat sometimes. See below:

Jul 3, 2010, 7:33am

hmm it is interesting to see that the 100 greatest have better bindings. I for one was of the opinion after seeing a picture on ebay of the 100 greatest for sale that they were really cheap made. Obviously if I had the opportunity to see them live I would be able to have an informed opinion. I received the brochure from EP about the 100 Greatest after buying James Watson signed edition of Double Helix which is amazing and equally beautiful and I really liked the designs of the 100 Greatest but that picture of the books on ebay were horrible and made me think otherwise. I was really to put it up front displeased

Jul 20, 2010, 3:49pm

Well, after giving it much thought, and listening to some other posts on here, I've decided I'm going to sell my "collector's edition" of the "Adventures" Holmes book, with the collector's notes. I know at least one person on this thread has expressed interest in buying it, and I was wondering if there were any others? I propose a silent auction. Simply email me your best offer ( and I'll take the highest. If I get no takers, or if all the offers are too low, then it's off to ebay, though I'd rather sell here, as you guys all know the difference between the CE and the 100 greatest after reading this thread. If you are really going after a matched set in this binding, it will be nearly impossible to scan all the 100 greatest ebay auctions for pictures of the frontispiece to find one that is a true CE, let alone one that includes the notes.

Book is immaculate, no plates or markings, no water, tight binding, it creaks when you open it, and has obviously never been read. There is one small scratch on the gilt on the side of the book, the length of your index finger from tip to second knuckle. The scratch is exactly parallel to the pages so it is difficult to see. I can't even get it to properly photograph (probably happened when the original owner liberated it from its shrink wrap with a blade. I have made this mistake myself) The left side of the collector's notes has a slight curl from being stored inside the book too close to the spine. This slight curve can be seen in the photo above. Otherwise, like new.

Edited: Aug 30, 2014, 2:46pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jul 20, 2010, 4:31pm

That's pretty much it! I like the thicker leather of the 100 greatest, and I think the "publisher's preface" within the book is more informative and convenient than the separately-printed collector's notes included with the CE. So assuming I keep the 100 Greatest copy, the set isn't going to match anyways, so I don't care if I have one FE and one CE, as they are identical save the logo on the title page. (By the way, according to Legacy Book's Ebay page, the "Final" adventures book IS available in a Famous Edition, which was published around the same time as the FE of "Later" adventures.)

What bothers me more than anything, surprisingly, is that the gilt doesn't match across all 3 books, as this actually affects the way they look on the shelf or on a coffee table. I think I can live with that, though.

I TOLD you I didn't have the disease! Well, not yet at least :)

Edited: Aug 30, 2014, 2:46pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jul 20, 2010, 7:12pm

I was just looking at your photos again and I noticed that the spine of the "Later Adventures" lacks the E/P logo that appears on the other three books. Easton has included and omitted these logos at various times over the years (I have quite a few without them), without much rhyme or reason. It doesn't seem to be easily mapped either to series or publishing date...perhaps printing date?

Edited: Jul 20, 2010, 8:54pm

Holy crap, I never noticed that before. That hurts their shelf appeal a bit, in my opinion. Dang it, now do I have to buy another edition of the book!!!!

Oh well, I stand by my decision to sell the "Adventures" CE. If the logo omission really bugs me, I'll just repurchase book 2 later.

On another note, this could come in handy concerning Wailofatail's comments earlier. If you want to know if a FE version of "Final" Adventures exists, just look for an Ebay auction with no "EP" logo on the spine! That would identify the book even if the lister is too lazy to take a picture of the title page (which I havt, btw)

Jul 20, 2010, 9:58pm

16> That hurts their shelf appeal a bit, in my opinion

By themselves, on a pedestal--perhaps. But put them in a bookcase, surrounded by a harem of leather-clad beauties of varying colors, dimensions and body art? -- You'll never even notice that Sherlock's missing mole.

Note: Just how sexist is it to objectify the occupants of one's bookcases in this way? A question for the women: Do you ever gender your leather tomes male? -- perhaps as rebels without a case?

(runs for cover)

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