Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Doll-A-Day 223: Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

  Today's doll is one I got last week at the auction. It's fitting that I'm showing him, as my sister and I just went to the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes on Saturday. It's, of course, Sherlock Homes, as portrayed by Basil Rathbone.

 This doll was made by Effanbee, in 1983.

He's wearing the classic Holmes outfit: deerstalker cap and Inverness coat. He even has the pipe.
The coat really buttons, even if the buttons are a little large.

The doll is vinyl and stands 16" tall. 

Sherlock Holmes was the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 According to the exhibition we went to,Holmes was based on Dr, Joseph Bell, a surgeon and teacher Conan Doyle had studied under at Edinburgh University.Yes, the creator of the very English Sherlock Homes was a Scot. Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on the 22nd of May, 1859.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The first Holmes novel was "A Study in Scarlet",published in 1887 in Beeton's Christmas Annual, and later as a book. It was one of only four full length Holmes novels written by Conan Doyle. All the other Holmes adventures he wrote were short stories. There were 56 of them.

  Apart from Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was known as a believer in the spirit world and fairies. When two young girls, cousins named Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, claimed to have seen and photographed what came to be known as 'The Cottingly fairies'  in 1920, Conan Doyle was one of their firmest supporters, even buying each of the girls a new camera so they could take better photographs of the fairies, and publishing two articles about fairies and the Cottingly photos in The Strand.
Frances Griffiths with 'fairies'.These days the fakery is obvious, but photography was new in those days and people believed what they saw in photos.

Elsie Wright with a 'brownie'.
 The pictures were already 3 years old when news of them broke. Cornered by the lie they had originally perpetrated to fool their parents the girls produced 3 more photos.

Years after Conan Doyle's death Elsie admitted to faking the photos using watercolour pictures she had made, attached to hat pins. Elsie died in 1988. Frances died in 1986, and also admitted that the photos were faked...
All except the last photo, known as 'the fifth photo', which  Frances claimed, to the end of her life,was real.

Yeah, ok. These three look like cutouts too.*Sigh* But what's that little face peeking through on the far right?

This Effanbee doll is actually a really good likeness of actor Basil Rathbone.
Basil Rathbone, Ida Lupino, and Nigel Bruce,looking younger than normal.

Except no ascot!

Not so sure about that left hand though...

And he's not wearing a suit jacket under his coat. I suppose that's to eliminate bulkiness, but still. Also, what's with the Steve Urkle pants?
I know guys wore their pants kind of high back then, but it just looks weird. He also looks a little weedy without the coat,and his head looks huge.

Rathbone was not the first actor to play Holmes, but he's certainly one of the actors most associated with the role.

 Basil Rathbone was born Phillip St. John Basil Rathbone in Johannesburg South Africa on the 13th of June, 1893. He was three years old when his family moved to England because his father was accused of being a British spy by the Boers.
Basil Rathbone wants you to paint him like one of your French girls.

Rathbone first played Holmes in 1939 in "The Hound of the Baskervilles". He appeared as Holmes in 12 more films and many radio shows.

Hound of the Baskervilles.
Although "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was set in the time period of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, most subsequent films were set in the current time so Holmes could fight Nazis.
Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as a doddering Watson. "Great Scot Holmes! That was meant for us!"

Basil Rathbone was also known as one of the best swordsmen in Hollywood. He used the skill in many of his movies, including "Robin Hood" in 1938, and "The Court Jester", in 1955.

Basil Rathbone fencing with Danny Kaye, (right), in The Court Jester.

  By the way, that Sherlock Holmes exhibit is pretty cool. It's a traveling exhibit, so if you're into Sherlock Holmes, forensics, or solving mysteries, check it out if it comes near you. There are actual pages from a couple of Holmes books in Conan Doyle's own hand, as well as forensics displays, and a mock crime scene and murder mystery to solve with interactive exhibits.

Tomorrow we'll see another doll.


  1. First of all, congratulations with the many hits, and keep blogging for many years more :-). This Sherlock is one of the dolls on my wish list. A lot of the Effanbee dolls look very much like the real persons I think. I have a Humphrey Bogart doll. Yes, there IS a fairy hidden in the bushes on the right!!! ;-)

    1. Yes! These Effanbee dolls are all very good likenesses. I wanted this one in particular. I lost out on the first one at the auction, which was loose, and ended up with this one, in box.I got several others with it, but I don't think I'll keep them. I do still want the Jimmy Cagney though. I also got a couple of the large World dolls: Fred and Ginger. I'd been wanting those too. Keep your eye out for Sherlock at a good price. The Effanbee dolls have gone down considerably over the last several years.

  2. Hey, I know this post in a few years old. But thanks for posting it. It was good to read a review about it before purcashing it. In the pictures the head does seem a little oversized and hands undersized but the likeness and details etc was something I wanted to add to my Sherlock Holmes collection.

    I don't collect dolls (& don't really plan on starting either) nor did I even know this existed. So the info in this review was very helpful!

    Thanks! Looking forward to receiving my Holmes in a couple days. It appears mine is missing his pipe; any suggestions from a doll enthusiast for something similar enough for areplacement?

    1. Thanks. Glad it was helpful. There are loads of miniature pipes for sale on Ebay. Be careful to find out the size before you buy though. Alot of them are 1/12 scale,which is for dollhouses. 1/6 is Barbie scale. There are a few that are key chains that might be the right size,although you might have to settle for something besides a Calabash pipe,but maybe you can modify it. You could always make your own from polymer clay. Good luck.

    2. Thanks for the response! Great info. Much appreciated.
      Impressive blog/collection too. How do you find the room to display them all?

      By the way did you ever get Cagney?

    3. Thanks for the compliment! I don't display everything at once. I rotate. I do also get rid of some things. (Not that they aren't replaced by other things!) I would love to have the Cagney. He's one of my favourites and that one is a good likeness. I haven't found him at a good price yet though.

  3. Would be curious to see how you have things setup. Always interested to see collectors display cases/shelving setups. Perhaps you already have?

    During my hunt for Holmes I saw this....

    Not sure what your price point is for Cagney but this one went unsold (not relisted yet) and I believe the seller still has it for sale and if you message the seller You could probably work out a deal if interested.

    1. I don't really have a display area. I have one overcrowded glass case in my dining room, and stuff on bookshelves, and on the vanity in my bedroom. I used to have stuff displayed on shelves in our spare room,but then we had Ivy,our youngest kid! That was the end of the spare room.


Thanks in advance for your comments.