The address is “Elementary, my dear Watson”

Perhaps today’s blog post will be something you had not already read about – if you see the address of 221B Baker Street you don’t even have to know the city to immediately know whose famous address it belongs – and yet it was quite interesting to read about mail getting routed to it.  It became an actual physical address on March 18, 1932 owned by a bank, who actually would answer letters sent to Sherlock Holmes.  

This articleSherlock Holmes’ Mail from this past July talks about then having a museum opening nearby and wanting to have the mail routed to them but the bank was able to keep it until 2002 when they moved their headquarters so the museum was granted exclusive rights to use the address, even though it physically resides at 237 and 241 Baker Street.    (Please note that link contains an annoying pop-up that kept wanting to get in the way of reading the article, but the article is really worth reading!)

And if you look at this article from 2012 with Smithsonian Magazine  The Mystery of 221B Baker Street – it talks about addressing the quest:
“The mystery of 221B Baker Street is not one of secret passages or hidden symbols. Rather, it could be described as a sort of existential spatial riddle: how can a space that is not a space be where it is not? According to Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson lived at 221B Baker Street from 1881 to 1904. But 221B Baker street did not exist in 1881, nor did it exist in 1887 when A Study in Scarlet was published and Baker Street house numbers only extended into the 100s. It was a purely fictional address – emphasis on was. Time marches on, Baker Streets are renumbered, and 221Bs are revealed…”  

“When the Sherlock Holmes Museum opened at 239 Baker Street in a Georgian townhouse that likely bears a close resemblance to Conan Doyle’s imagined 221 Baker street, there emerged a dispute over which business should receive the letters. The new museum argued that they were better equipped to respond to the inquiries while the Abbey National presumably wanted to continue their accidental role as the secretary to a fictional detective. The debate lasted more than a decade and was not resolved until 2002, when the Abbey National vacated their building and the Royal Mail finally agreed to deliver all letters addressed to 221B Baker Street to the museum at 239 Baker Street.”

What I found interesting was if you look at the actual Sherlock Holmes Museum website it gives the address of 221B Baker Street.  Their links page includes a link to “The Philatelic Sherlock Holmes” which was impressive – and I plan to include in a future blog post.

And for the truest of Sherlock Holmes fans, my apologies for the Title of today’s blog post – I’m reading it was never actually said by Sherlock Holmes – one of those famous misquotes:

“Probably the most famous of Sherlock Holmes quotes, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” was never spoken by Sherlock Holmes.  That is to say that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote those exact words for his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.  However, Sherlock Holmes does say the words “elementary” and “my dear Watson” quite often.”

Here’s to having fun with looking at addresses in a new light the next time we are updating our own address books, i.e. Anchored Scraps Address Book and/or digital address book too!


Anchors Aweigh,  



Attribution & Thank you to the following who are referenced today —

Article:  “Sherlock Holmes’ Mail” July 8, 2015 by Karl Smallwood @TodayIFoundOut1

Article: “The Mystery of 221B Baker Street” July 18, 2012 by Jimmy Stamp @SmithsonianMag

Site: Sherlock Holmes Museum including their links page

Site: The Philatelic Sherlock Holmes

Site: Sherlock Holmes Quotes

Address Book: Anchored Scraps Address Book

You might also enjoy this AnchoredScraps Letter Writing Blog post: Arthur Conan Doyle book: A Life in Letters 5-22-2017; by Helen Rittersporn.



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