Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s favourite Sherlock Holmes story gets the numismatic treatment with Spectres new ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’

Very possibly the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes sprang from the imagination of British author Arthur Conan Doyle. First appearing in 1887, he was quite an unusual character for the time, using advanced techniques in observation, deduction, forensic science and logic to solve crimes. Over the next four decades, a total of 4 novels, and 56 short stories featured the character and his sidekick, Dr. Watson. Holmes remains the most portrayed human literary character in film and television history.

Conan Doyle’s apparent favourite story was ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’, published in February 1892 in The Strand magazine. It was one of the 56 short stories, and is what is termed a locked-room mystery. It’s a tale of familial greed and murder, with the titular speckled band turning out to be a poisonous snake used by the antagonist to murder his stepdaughters for their inheritance. He failed, and was killed by the snake after Holmes scared it back into a vent in the house.

This high-relief, two-ounce silver coin does a good job of telling the story in a single scene. Holmes, classically dressed, stands in front of the aggressive snake, while Watson looks on in horror behind him. The snake is brightly coloured, and looks quite close to a Russell’s Viper, one of India’s most dangerous snakes. The snake in the book is called a ‘Swamp Viper’ by Holmes, but the only snake with a name remotely close is an East African native. We think Spectres called it correctly.

The obverse depicts Holmes relaxing in front of the fireplace, pipe in hand, and the tools of his trade on a side table. We’d imagine that any future Sherlock Holmes coins may well use this same obverse, as it doesn’t seem tied to this story specifically. A fine period coin, with some impressively defined high-relief. It’s great to see a particular story brought to life, rather than just a generic design. Boxed with a COA, it’s available to order now, and has a mintage of 500.

$5 (Samoa) 62.2 g of 0.999 silver 45.0 mm Antique, Colour 500