I am going to recommend a couple of editions that are excellent. I will state upfront that for me, personally, the Strand illustrations, particularly the ones by Sidney Paget, are part and parcel and integral to the Sherlock Holmes stories. I would never buy my friends editions that do not contain the Paget illustrations. For this reason, I would never buy the recent Steven Moffat or Mark Gatiss editions for anyone. They do not have any of the illustrations in them. Without the accompanying illustrations, the stories are not the same for me.
Firstly, if you want to go all out and give someone the entire Canon, I am recommending this edition which is priced at £16.49:
Buy it here:
This edition is what it says on the tin - The Complete Sherlock Holmes - the four novels and all 56 short stories. It is a hardback edition, with beautiful typesetting, most of the illustrations in good quality, a red ribbon marker, and it contains an introduction by David Stuart Davies. It comes highly recommended by me.
If you just want to give people a selection of Sherlock Holmes stories to whet their appetite, in a lovely gift edition, I am recommending this which is priced at £5.75:
Buy it here:
It contains 15 of the "best" Sherlock Holmes stories, including A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-Headed League, The Man with the Twisted Lip, The Blue Carbuncle, The Speckled Band and Silver Blaze. It is a beautiful pocket hardback edition, with gold gilt writing, a glorious pattern embossed on a rich red wine cover, with beautiful typesetting, glorious high quality illustrations, gold gilt pages, a red ribbon marker, and it contains an afterword by David Stuart Davies, a short biography of Arthur Conan Doyle and a Bibliography. To summarise this edition in a nutshell - IT IS TO DIE FOR! It comes highly highly highly recommended by me. PLEASE do not buy the Moffat and Gatiss editions - buy this one instead - it is truly beautiful, the BBC books are cheap and tacky by contrast. This is a gift edition which would make a to-die-for present.
Finally, in terms of value for money, and a lovely gift edition, if you want the entire Canon, I am recommending this which is priced at £7.65:
Buy it here:
It contains all 4 novels and 56 short stories, has all the Paget illustrations, and is a lovely hardback edition, with a deep rich red cover, gold gilt writing and red pages. You simply cannot beat it for value for money and quality and it is a lovely edition. This is actually the edition that I acquired when I rediscovered Sherlock Holmes last year and it is the edition that I got Mark Gatiss to sign for me the first time I met him.
In my humble opinion, these are by far and away the most beautiful editions currently in print. I have been shopping around extensively. It anyone knows different, please let me know in the comments.