I am quoting from the TV series "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (episode 3, "The Naval Treaty"):

After leaving at the station I went for a charming walk through some admirable Surrey scenery to a pretty little village called Ripley, where I had my tea at an inn, and took the precaution of filling my flask and of putting a paper of sandwiches in my pocket.

  • "Sandwiches" is clearly a plural form, so why do you think that it might refer to a single item? Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 11:18
  • just got confused by the word a paper
    – aissam
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 11:53
  • 1
    OK, I did some light editing to make it a bit clearer. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:14
  • thank you very much for taking time to do it
    – aissam
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:19
  • 1
    It's a rare, archaic pseudopartitive (compare the common 'a bag of sweets'). 'Container' and contents are referenced; the 'container' is a paper wrapping. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


It probably means "sandwiches wrapped in (greaseproof) paper".

In 19th century England there were no plastic bags or plastic lunch boxes. Greaseproof paper was traditionally used for food packaging, both informally and commercially (and still is).

"Sandwiches" is the plural form of "sandwich".

  • Thank you this is very helpful
    – aissam
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 11:52
  • 1
    Definitely so. It's how Mum wrapped my sandwiches in the 1950s. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:34
  • @Duckspindle and Weather Vane, I wonder what that's like, the greaseproof paper? Is it the same as waxed paper? Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 2:55
  • @aparente001 greaseproof is a generic term for waterproof papers. Parchment paper was used for centuries for food wrapping, and waxed paper isn't suitable for cooking. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 6:58
  • @aparente001 From my experience of reading American recipes I think that the US equivalent of the British "greaseproof paper" is "baking parchment".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 7:49

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