Will you detect a new Sherlock Holmes coin in your loose change?
It’s elementary – a 50p coin dedicated to Sherlock Holmes is going to be detected in people’s pockets and wallets up and down the country.
The coin, created by the Royal Mint, features a design with lettering so tiny that it requires a magnifying glass to decipher it.
Versions of the coin have been put on sale on the Royal Mint’s website. Prices range from £10 for a brilliant uncirculated version to £795 for a gold proof coin.
The coin is also due to go into wider general circulation in the coming months, although the Royal Mint has not given an exact timing.
The coin commemorates 160 years since the birth of the character’s creator – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – who was born on May 22, 1859.
The sleuth’s profile, complete with pipe and deerstalker hat, appears on the coin, surrounded by the names of his most popular adventures.
Coin designer Stephen Raw chose to create a design that requires a magnifying glass to read the names of these famous cases, hoping to bring out the “inner detective” of anyone who finds the coin in their change.
The character of Sherlock Holmes has inspired films, video games, radio plays as well as TV series.
Actors who have appeared as incarnations of Sherlock Holmes over decades past and present include Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr, Rupert Everett, Jeremy Brett, Edward Woodward, Jonny Lee Miller and Basil Rathbone.
As well as creating one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives, the author was early to highlight how important fingerprints could be as a type of evidence – with a fingerprint being mentioned in the 1890 story, The Sign of the Four.
The Royal Mint pointed out that coins are mentioned in Sherlock’s adventures – with one example being in A Scandal in Bohemia, where the detective is given a sovereign by Irene Adler for being a last-minute best man at her wedding.
Mr Raw said of his coin design: “Growing up in London in the 1950s and 1960s, my father would often take a short detour in the family car to drive down Baker Street to see where Sherlock Holmes had lived. I love all the stories – in my design for the coin I have listed the most popular of those adventures but by necessity have kept the words very small.
“I hope it will encourage the ‘inner detective’ in those who are intrigued by the coin. 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.”
Nicola Howell, director of the consumer division at the Royal Mint said: “We are all huge fans of Arthur Conan Doyle at the Royal Mint, which makes us all very happy to honour him with his own coin.”
She said she hoped that, like Sherlock Holmes, “our coin inspires some new detectives”.