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If you like this project, please check out our 230+ paper and downloadable woodworking project plans at the WOOD Store. If you like shop and furniture projects, click below for information on subscribing to WOOD® magazine. Certainly one would love to have been a fly on the wall that night, or, even better, archy the cockroach darting among the drinks on the table, to hear Denis’s charming discourse, and all the other scholarship and tomfoolery that transpired that night, the first BSI dinner in four long years. The quotation is from Christopher Morley’s “Notes on Baker Street” in the Saturday Review of Literature, January 28, 1939, not from any letter Starrett received from him.
Resting imposingly on the long table at which the BSI dined on January 30, 1940, was an “orthodox coal-scuttle,” authentically Victorian, which James P. The coal box was an ornament, and in it were stored such details of fireside comfort as slippers, unread magazines and so forth.
Comparing signatures in one copy of 221B after another makes for further confusion Some men seem to have stayed glued to their seats throughout the signing session, as the copies of Starrett’s book made their way around the table, while others seem to have gotten up and roamed around the room, signing one copy here, another copy there.
This meeting was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes’s first appearance in American ink (Lippincott’s Magazine, February 1890).” Not a great way to sell copies of the real reason for the 1940 dinner, Vincent Starrett’s 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes — especially since lack of funds had forced Starrett to sell that superb collection of his the year before! Christopher Morley (still beardless at this time) is at the head of the table, in black tie, leaning to catch something Frederic Dorr Steele is saying to him.


My friend Basil Davenport, the one man I knew who literally lived in a garret, in the depths of the Depression, supporting himself by writing for that same Saturday Review of Literature — precariously, because the Saturday Review didn’t always have the money to pay contributors. Clifton Fadiman had been a protege of Morley’s at the Saturday Review of Literature, and was a fellow Book of the Month Club judge and panelist on the radio show Information, Please! Starrett, an action which, in the preoccupations which ensued, was probably not accomplished.” But other Irregulars’ copies did make the rounds of the table.
I carried a coal scuttle of the Baker Street variety to New York, and it was placed in triumph, and, I hope, in complete vindication of Watson's reporting, in the middle of the table - we kept the cigars in it. A cost estimate I recently saw for a businessman visiting New York in 1941 gave $3.35 a day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Across the table from him, a nonchalant David Randall tilts his chair back, his hand stuck in his pocket.
In those days the very best place to get a book mentioned was Morley’s “Trade Winds” column in the Saturday Review of Literature.
Smith is down the table on the opposite side, not yet at its head where he soon will be for the rest of his life. Spurgeon showed the kind of man Shakespeare must have been by tabulating all the metaphors and similes he used, showing him to be familiar with the countryside, gardens, and domestic animals.


Regis Hotel with that most generous host, Howard Goodhart, Rosenbach always had a full bottle of whisky at his place at the table, while the rest of us drank wine. Weber declared himself “Judge Lynch,” his pen-name as chief mystery book reviewer in the Saturday Review of Literature.
James Keddie sits next to him, and on the table nearby is the orthodox coal-scuttle he has brought from Boston.
There were interesting newcomers, like Howard Haycraft, and John Winterich, a protege of Morley’s at the Saturday Review of Literature, Harrison Martland, Medical Examiner of Newark, New Jersey, and David Randall, from Scribner’s bookshop on Fifth Avenue. Henry Morton Robinson was a popular writer whose 1943 Saturday Review article about the BSI, “Baker Street Irregularities,” was reprinted in Irregular Memories of the ’Thirties. John Winterich was a prominent critic who had also been a colleague of Morley’s at the Saturday Review of Literature.
Across the table, Charlie Goodman and his brother Jack beam at the camera, while Mitchell Kennerley the bookman, who will take his own life ten years hence, studies the back of his hand somberly.



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