Sherlock’s pencil 8


Sherlock - The sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)

Sherlock – The Sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)

Nice to see Sherlock Holmes using a pencil in “The Sign of Three“, the latest Sherlock episode.

The type of pencil he’s using was quite common in the early 20th century, when “seven daily deliveries of post meant it was perfectly possible to arrange and confirm an appointment in the evening by sending a postcard in the morning” (Lloyd and Mitchinson, 2010, p.303)1.

Sherlock - The sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)

Sherlock – The Sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)

People secured these pencils to their clothes or belts using the attached chain. This meant they were always ready to write postcards, similar to our use of text messages today. Back then the receiver had to pay the postage, so the sender didn’t need to bother with that detail, which made sending short messages on postcards even easier.

Sherlock - The sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)

Sherlock – The Sign of Three (Image © Hartswood Films / BBC Wales / WGBH)


The screenshots in this blog post has been taken from episode 2 “The Sign of Three” of the third season of the BBC’s Sherlock. I believe that the use of the screenshots shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Lloyd, J. and Mitchinson, J., 2010. QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance. London: Faber and Faber. []

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8 thoughts on “Sherlock’s pencil

  • Johnny

    Excellent! I haven’t managed to spot any pencils at all in the first two seasons, though plenty of Moleskine action. 🙂 We haven’t gotten season 3 in the States yet, but we’re excited in our house.

  • Johnny

    The weekend after this one! 🙂 I’m glad it’s less of a delay than they do with Downton (though I’ve totally seen the whole 4th series already).

  • Matthias

    Oh, good you get it so soon!
    I never watched Downton Abbey. I hope I didn’t miss any exciting pencil moments.

  • Matthias

    Sean, I hope you like the new season. so far I like it even more than the last one, but I think my wife preferred the previous season(s).