Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press

Issues are available for viewing as shown below:

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2020 to date  To view click here 

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 2019  To view click here2018 To view click here 2017  To view click here

2015  To view click here2014 To view click here 2016  To view click here
2011 To view click here 2012  To view click here,2013 To view click here,

2008 To view click here 2009 To view click here 2010 To view click here
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2001 To view click here 2000 To view click here 1999 To view click here
1998 To view click here 1997 To view click here 1996 To view click here
1995 To view click here 1994 To view click here 1993 To view click here
1992 To view click here 1991 To view click here 1990 To view click here
1989 To view click here 1988 To view click here 1987 To view click here
1986 To view click here 1985 To view click here

Issues are posted near the end of each month.

The newsletter is just as quick-and-dirty as it always was. 

A Little about the History of Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press

by Peter E. Blau

Scuttlebutt from theDescription: C:\STRON\Mirror\black2.jpg Spermaceti Press has been published monthly ink-on-paper, with occasional illustrations and enclosures, for forty years. Much of the gossip is quite trivial, but most of it is Sherlockian or Doylean. And the subscription price will increase whenever postage rates increase.

The newsletter started in 1971 as sheets of paper, kept by my typewriter, so that I could write paragraphs of minor news for my friend John Bennett Shaw. Eventually others found out about what I called "information sheets" and asked for photocopies, and the number of copies required soon reached the point where I started charging for them to recover out-of-pocket costs. When I acquired my first computer in 1985, things became much easier and the format more consistent. Philip A. Shreffler, editor of The Baker Street Journal in 1987, suggested that readers of the BSJ might welcome the opportunity to read all that gossip, trivial and otherwise, and I finally named the newsletter, starting with the January 1988 issue.

The Spermaceti Press is the imaginary establishment from which my seasonal souvenirs for the Sherlockian birthday festivities in New York in January have been published for many years, named in honor of a real (and the only known remaining) spermaceti press, preserved at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, where it once was used not to publish anything for whalers, but rather to process sperm oil. And the name of the press seemed appropriate, considering my Investiture in The Baker Street Irregulars ("Black Peter") and the fact that when I named my press I was living on Holmes Road in Pittsfield, Mass., just up the road from Arrowhead, the home in which Herman Melville lived when he wrote Moby Dick.

Scuttlebutt is an appropriate pun, since it means gossip, and comes from the barrel (butt) of water used to provide drinking water for the crew of whalers and other ships. Gossip was as common around the scuttlebutt then as it is today around office water-coolers. I must confess that if I had realized how long it took to explain the name of the newsletter, I might have named it simply Gossip, but what's done is done.

And thanks to Willis G. Frick for providing web-space for an archive of back issues of the electronic version back to 1985. I'm not sure why anyone is interested in old gossip, but I've received requests, and bits and bytes make it easy to provide at least some ancient history.

Seaching Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press

Those who want to run a text searches on more than one year can do so easily in a compilation created by Steve Mason and made available in two large files at the web-site of the Crew of the Barque Lone Star

Publisher Information: Peter E. Blau 7103 Endicott Court Bethesda, MD 20817-4401 (301-229-5669),


This page updated on 04/25/2015.