I was reading The Great Detective by Zach Dundas at lunch today and he was talking about the beginnings of the Sherlock Holmes stories and how they took off when the second Holmes story appeared in The Strand Magazine in July, 1891. He mentions you can read it on your iPad. He talks about the stories and illustrations not only in the Conan Doyle piece but in the whole magazine.
It is in the Strand story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” where the first drawing of Sherlock Holmes was made. It is a drawing that set the stage for how we still picture the great detective. And I thought, oh how neat! It would would fun to see it. But just on that alone I really had no plans on trying to find it. Until, that is, Dundas mentions an article in the same issue called “A Regiment on Wheels.” It is about a military regiment of bicyclists and there are illustrations demonstrating, among other things, a cyclist decapitating someone with a saber while riding his bike! Now that I had to see!
So to recap thus far: first drawing of Sherlock Holmes, not worth the bother of doing an internet search; drawing of acyclist decapitating someone with a sword, totally worth the effort to find.
The Internet Archive has the magazine, volume 2, number 7. You can view it online or download it as a PDF or several other file formats. Nifty.
To my credit, I found the Holmes drawing first and yes, he is exactly how you imagine him.
I did not linger long, however, there was a decapitation to find!Of course it ends up being a bit disappointing. The cyclist isn’t actually decapitating a person but merely practicing by knocking a “head” off a post. I’m not entirely certain what I was expecting to see, but it wasn’t that. Nonetheless, it is an impressive skill to have and I might begin practicing it on my own bike. Perhaps I will use a stick though since I don’t imagine my neighbors would appreciate me riding up and down the street with a sword in my hand. There are children on my block after all. They would think it was cool and want to try too which would not endear me to their parents and I need to make sure my neighbors like me at least until I get them to sign off on my chicken permit. Then look out! I’m going to pimp my bike and when the zombie apocalypse comes I will be ready to make some zombie heads roll.