An Edinburgh academic, Dr Rachael Durkin, has gone on the trail of every reference to violin playing in the Conan Doyle stories. We know that Sherlock played a Strad and collected pedigree violins.
It does say in A Study in Scarlet that Holmes “prattled away about Cremona fiddles, and the difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati”.
But Rachael has come up with evidence that Sherlock was conned into buying a fake Strad.
In short, the very strong implication in both the Real Cremona and the Doyle books is that the Stradivaris are not genuine. They are products of the Victorian forgery trade.
Which begs the question: if Doyle deliberately wrote this detail into the Holmes books, what was he trying to say about him? Perhaps it points to the detective as a flawed protagonist, cutting through his greatness at solving crimes to remind us he was not infallible.
Read the full investigation here.