So-called Palmistry ……..backstory

Research on the behalf of historical fiction is a perk. Often, I find something that serves me just as a writing prompt might. I recently got hold of a 127 year old London newspaper. I wonder, who might have been first to scan its pages?  

December 1893. Holmes and Watson walk into the Criterion. They let the young man at the door take their heavier outwear and find places at the bar. Watson unfolds the latest copy of the London Illustrated News, spreading it on the bar, as Holmes questions the bartender about the “fellow who just left, the one with grey hair and a Greek accent.” Watson is distracted, finding that on page two the Illustrated is attempting to sell soap by means of palmistry. 

Watson learns that:

  1. Students of Palmistry rely on the left hand.
  2. Each line and bump may be interpreted. For instance the Line of Apollo runs from the Life Line to the third finger. If straight and clear, it indicates fame in the arts, or wealth. (He checks himself.)
  3. You cannot absolutely tell your future by means of palmistry, but you may be certain of “less labour and greater comfort by the use of Sunlight soap.”

Holmes is ready to leave. He asks Watson what he learned from the paper. “Nothing I didn’t know.”






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