The Mini-Tonga Scion Society   

of the

Baker Street Irregulars

 

 

 

Celebrating the world of Sherlock Holmes in miniature

 

 

 

"To a great mind, nothing is little."

                                                                                                                                                               ---Sherlock Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Please Read This First!

 

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Trish Pearlman    1949 – 2006

On May 26 2006, the Mini-Tonga Society lost one half of “The Sign of the Two” when Trish Pearlman passed beyond the Reichenbach after a long battle with cancer.  Trish was loved by everybody who knew her.  She was a person equally at home with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse, Mark Twain, Machiavelli, J.K. Rowling or Terry Pratchett.  Trish was an avid miniaturist, writer, needlecrafter, leathersmith, photographer, artist, Sci-Fi/Fantasy enthusiast, theatrical ham, club webmistress and - most important of all - my one and only love for eighteen years.  She was truly the best and wisest woman I have ever known.

 

 

Who is Tonga?

Tonga was a character in the novel The Sign of the Four (1890) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  He was a native of the Andaman Islands in the East Indies, and, though adult, was quite tiny; so small that his footprints were mistaken for those of a child.  He also carried a blowpipe and poisoned thorns, and could be a most deadly adversary.  Sherlock Holmes was forced to send him to a watery grave at the bottom of the Thames.  The pictures of Tonga and Holmes (top of page) are reproduced from a 1923 set of British cigarette cards entitled “Conan Doyle Characters”.

 

Who are we?

We are a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars.  The game is always afoot, but in a smaller scale.  We are primarily a correspondence club, although traditionally a meeting can be declared whenever two or more members converge.  This can occur at either Sherlockian or Miniature events, by design or by accident!  We are not-for-profit; we are doing this purely for the love of the Game and the Craft.  Membership is international and our newsletter (the Tonga Times) is published three times per subscription cycle (usually).

 

 

 

In 1977, articles in Nutshell News magazine by noted miniaturist and Sherlockian Dee Snyder (top left) revealed the ongoing fascination so many of us have with Baker Street in small scale.  Now, all we needed was a Society; that much was elementary.  Thus, The Mini-Tonga Scion Society was formed in May 1979 through the efforts of Dee Snyder, Dorothy Rowe Shaw (who gave the club its name) and John Bennett Shaw. Carol Wenk (below left) was one of the earliest members (all, sadly, have passed beyond the Reichenbach).  They received invaluable assistance from the late Gertrude Mahoney (a founder of NAME), Peter E. Blau and Caye MacLaren (founding editor of Nutshell News).  The first meeting occurred in July 1980, at the NAME National Houseparty.  Mini-Tonga was run by Dee Snyder (“The Islander”) until her death in 1992.  The club then took a “great hiatus” for two years.  From 1994 to the Summer of 2000, our guiding force was Carol Wenk.  The Ceremonial Mini-Deerstalker was then passed to Trish and Jay Pearlman (“The Sign of the Two”).

If variety is the spice of life, then Mini-Tonga is well seasoned.  Some members enjoy the challenge of finding just the right pieces to fit the pictures in their imaginations.  Others like to build as much as they can from scratch.  Most people fall somewhere in between, buying some things and making others.  The important thing is not so much the approach, as the spirit of the thing.  We are all enjoying the process of bringing the world of Holmes and Watson to life – in a box small enough to keep in the house.

Here are some photos that will best illustrate what we are all about.  Most of these projects were done in standard dollhouse 1/12 scale (1 inch = 1 foot), but smaller and larger scales (up to Barbie® size) are welcome.

    

221B sitting room by Dee Snyder

Dee Snyder’s third sitting room (Mini-Tonga Registry #1) was widely featured in miniature magazines.  Elements of it served as models for her many wonderful “how-to” articles that graced our newsletter.  This mini 221B is now in the capable hands of Brian Jackson of Bangor, Maine.

        

 

 

221B sitting room by Dorothy Rowe Shaw

One of the best-known of all Sherlockian miniatures, the sitting room (Registry #2) is only one part of a multi-room, two-storey building.  Originally created by Dorothy as a gift to her husband John Bennett Shaw, the entire miniature is now part of the Sherlock Holmes Collection of the Elmer Andersen Library of the University of Minnesota (where it is on display).

        

 

221B sitting room by Amanda Flaum for Leslie S. Klinger

Author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Leslie S. Klinger received this 221B mini sitting room several years ago as a gift from his step-daughter, Amanda Flaum.  Says Les, “I was the ‘patron’ and critic, she was the artist.”  Her impressive creation is #20 in the Registry.

        

 

221B sitting room by Cheryl Leigh

This sitting room is part of a four storey Victorian dollhouse owned by Cheryl Leigh of Nottingham, England. Full of beautiful detail, it has been featured in Dolls House World magazine.

        

 

221B vignette by Beverly Kidder

This Sherlockian creation by Beverly Kidder, of Greenfield, Massachusetts, is a companion piece to her larger sitting room which is #7 in our Registry.  Beverly has been a member of Mini-Tonga since its earliest days.  She says, “I think of it as the essence of 221B Baker Street rather than the complete room.”  The title of her vignette is “Come Watson, the game is afoot!”

        

 

221B sitting room by Peggy van Vlymen

Originally created over a twenty-year period by Peggy van Vlymen, Russ Perkins of Lake Oswego, Oregon is now the proud owner (and keeper of the flame) of this lovely sitting room, Registry #37.

        

 

 

The Gloria Scott (left), the Aurora, Esmeralda and Police steam launch (right) by John Brousch

The late John Brousch was the multi-talented co-founder of The South Downers and an active Sherlockian in the Chicago area for over forty years. His specialty was canonical ships, though he crafted many other types of scale miniatures. He was also a painter, calligrapher, cartoonist and designer of heraldic coats-of-arms.

        

 

221B sitting room by Trish and Jay Pearlman

We worked on our sitting room off and on for nearly seventeen years.  Our 221B (Registry #30) was displayed at the 1999 BSI Reception in New York City.  This was our very first room box, and was a “learn as you go” project.  These photos were taken several years ago; its appearance is now much improved.

 

 

We’re always looking to add more members’ photos to our Gallery.  The Mini-Tonga Registry now numbers over thirty-five.  There are so many wonderful miniature creations out there; we would like to feature as many of these as possible.  For more than twenty-five years, the members of The Mini-Tonga Society have proven themselves quite ingenious in their depictions of the world of Sherlock Holmes.  The more, the merrier!

If we’ve piqued your curiosity and you’d like to see even more wonderful and imaginative miniatures, click the box below to go to our extended Gallery.

 

 

Some Links of Interest:

National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME)

The International Guild of Miniature Artisans, Ltd. (IGMA)

Miniature Collector Magazine

Dollhouse Miniatures Magazine

Dolls House World Magazine

The Miniature Net Ring a web ring

Miniature Network another web ring 

Sherlockian.Net Chris Redmond’s site with a wealth of information

Sherlocktron Willis Frick’s site - another valuable resource

Sherlockian Who's Who photos of Sherlockians worldwide, including Mini-Tonga members

Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes

The Nashville Scholars of the Three Pipe Problem

The Three Garridebs of Westchester County

The Sound of the Baskervilles

The Singular Society of the Baker Street Dozen Charles Prepolec’s great site from Canada

Sherlock Peoria home of the infamous Action Sherlock Brain Theatre!

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London

Société Sherlock Holmes de France (in French)

The Shoso-in Bulletin Homepage

Under the Jackknife - The Sherlockian Mantel Leslie S. Klinger’s Homepage

The Sherlock Holmes Society of Western Australia Inc.

 

Full-scale Reconstructions of the 221B Sitting Room:

221B Baker Street/Los Angeles by Chuck Kovacic

At Home With Sherlock Holmes by Dennis Dobry

Les Passe-Temps de Madame Hudson by Martine Ruzé-Moëns (in French)

1951 Festival of Britain The Westminster Libraries website

 

 

E-mail us

You can also send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Mini-Tonga Society

c/o Jay Pearlman

1656 East 19th Street  #2E

Brooklyn, New York 11229

USA

 

 “… l’oeuvre c’est tout.”

 

 

Last updated January 17, 2007

 

These pages originally designed by Trish Pearlman, ASH