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The 1954 BSI Dinner group photo

On the hallowed occasion of the 100th birthday of “that great and good man,” Sherlock Holmes, 65 members from all over the world gathered to pay tribute. Fletcher Pratt, BSI, stood in for Christopher Morley as Gasogene-cum-Tantalus. As befitted the consulting detective’s global reach, birthday greetings arrived from an array of localities: Boston, Chicago, Denmark, Holland, Iowa, London, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Paris, and Quebec, to enumerate but a few.

Carl Anderson of the Sons of the Copper Beeches led a discussion on the short-lived run of Basil Rathbone’s Broadway play about Holmes, which ran for only three performances in October 1953. Scion society reports were presented. Richard W. Clarke of the Five Orange Pips of Westchester County presented a single-question quiz: “Who gave Sherlock Holmes a blue phial containing poison?” James Iraldi of the Musgrave Ritualists took first prize, a stock certificate of the Franco-Midland Hardware Company.

Attendees were regaled with two vivid pieces of Sherlockian footage: a film of Silver Blaze Handicap at Aqueduct the previous August (plus a recording of the race with sportscaster Red Smith giving color) and a documentary produced by W.T. Rabe of the Amateur Mendicants of Detroit from his own honeymoon that recounted the Master’s 1891 flight from London to Meiringen, culminating in dramatic shots of the Reichenbach Falls.

At 11pm, a necessary toast was raised to Christopher Morley, Founder of the Baker Street Irregulars. Learned papers and Canonical disputations held the floor for an hour, taking “a deeper, more searching, and more reverent course than has been evident in many a year...the presence of the Great Man was everywhere palpable.”

As an adjunct to the momentous centenary, a poll had been conducted prior to the birthday dinner to determine the “10 Best “and “10 Least” of the stories. (Peruse the results and compare them with Arthur Conan Doyle’s own rankings put forth in the Strand Magazine in the April 1954 issue of the Baker Street Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 117-119.)

At the stroke of midnight, the remaining assembled members raised a standing toast in silence:

Dinner Details: January 8, 1954
Cavanaugh’s Restaurant, New York, NY

Dinner Photo Information

Click on the above photo to see a larger version of it, and maximize your browser window to see the most detail.

Key to People in the 1954 BSI Dinner photo (PDF)

BSI Honours List

John V. L. Hogan as The Aluminium Crutch
Leon S. Holstein as The Tired Captain
Tony Montag as Vamberry, the Wine Merchant
Robert R. Pattrick as The Politician, the Lighthouse, and the Trained Cormorant
Remsen Ten Eyck Schenck as The Tarleton Murders
A. Carson Simpson as The Conk-Singleton Forgery Case
What is an Investiture?

Two-Shilling Award:
Not awarded until 1962.
What is a Two-Shilling Award?

The Woman:
Not identified; possibly none.
What is The Woman honour?

"Stand with me here upon the terrace..."
(as named at this Dinner, not their year of passing)
Nigel Bruce (by Peter Greig)
Rev. Howard Clemens (by Allen Robertson)
Ivar Gunn (by the Marquis of Donegall)
What is the origin of “standing on the terrace?”

Morley-Montgomery Award:
Not awarded until 1959.
What is the Morley-Montgomery Award?

Reports on the Dinner

1954 BSI Dinner Minutes (digitized images at Harvard)

The Baker Street Journal v4 n2 (April 1954) pp. 113-119.  (available in the eBSJ)

List of 1954 BSI Dinner Attendees (digitized image at Harvard)

Key to People in the 1954 BSI Dinner photo (PDF)


None available online at this time.

Related Material

1954 Dinner Announcement Memorandum (digitized image at Harvard)
1 page.  2 copies. Sequence 91-92

Press Release about the 1954 Dinner (digitized image at Harvard)
2 pages.  Sequence 95-96

1954 Dinner Menu (digitized images at Harvard)
Cover and interior. Sequence 45-46

Smith, Edgar W., “To Sherlock Holmes” (digitized image at Harvard)
A poem in English and Danish. 1 page. Sequence 47

Smith, Edgar W., "The Ten Best and the Ten Least" (digitized images at Harvard)
Results of a poll of the BSI about the stories.  2 pages. 2 copies. Sequence 162-163 and 167-168

Previous dinner: the 1953 BSI Dinner

Next dinner: the 1955 BSI Dinner

For an index to all BSI Dinners and photos, see our BSI Dinner Summary list.

The BSI Archive is located at the Houghton Library at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Archival material may be used by any qualified scholar, subject to the normal rules and regulations of the Library. For links to a detailed finding aid and related information, see our BSI Archive at Harvard page.

Page composed on 1/28/15 by Tamar Zeffren.
Page updated 5/13/15 by Andrew Solberg.
This page last updated 3/30/19 by Randall Stock.