Fictional British detective Sherlock Holmes is probably one of the most popular and well-known detectives in literary history. Known for his brilliant analytical skills and ability to decipher complicated clues, the consulting sleuth has been depicted on screen 254 times and even holds the Guinness World Record for the most portrayed literary human character in film & TV. Hence, it is not surprising to hear that the Royal Mint, responsible for producing coins in the United Kingdom, has honored the iconic detective with a commemorative coin.
Released on May 22, 2019, in honor of creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 160th birthday, the 50 pence (75 cent) coin features a silhouette of Holmes, complete with the detective's famous deerstalker hat and calabash pipe, on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other. Surrounding Holmes' image are some of his most popular mysteries including, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of the Four, The Valley of Fear, as well as the sleuth's debut novel — The Study of Scarlet.
The tiny lettering of the titles, which require a magnifying glass to read, may seem like a mistake caused by the attempt to cram in too much in a small space. However, the coin's designer, Steve Raw, says he deliberately put them all there to bring out the "inner detective" in fans. He explains, “Naturally, the only way to solve 'the mystery of the text' is by using that essential piece of equipment always carried by the intrepid sleuth: a magnifying glass."
The Royal Mint plans to put the 50p coin in general circulation later this year. However, fans hoping to add a sparkly new piece to their Sherlock Holmes memorabilia, can purchase an uncirculated version for £10 ( $13) from the Royal Mint's website. Also available are 600 limited edition silver proof coins for £55 ($70) each and 400 limited edition gold proof coins for £795 ($1,000) each.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 22, 1859, Doyle was a trained doctor running a clinic, before discovering his passion for writing. Holmes' character was based on Dr. Joseph Bell, a renowned forensic scientist at Edinburgh University, whom Doyle studied under. Following the tremendous success of A Study in Scarlet, which was published in 1887, the imaginative author penned four novels and 56 short stories, the last in 1927, starring the detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson. In addition to the screen adaptations, Holmes, whose mysteries continue to entertain and fascinate fans young and old, has been featured on radio dramas, live stage, and even computer games.
The United Kingdom's fun tradition of featuring fictional characters on currency began in 2016, when the Royal Mint celebrated Beatrix Potter's 150th birthday with limited edition coins featuring characters from the author’s iconic children’s story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. In 2018, to mark his 60th birthday, the adorable Paddington Bear appeared on a set of commemorative coins available for purchase on the government agency's website. We wonder who will be next!