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The Crime Blotter: An American Sherlock Holmes Recovers Stolen Coins – 1922

The Crime Blotter: An American Sherlock Holmes Recovers Stolen Coins – 1922

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From the pages of the October 1922 issue of The Numismatist:

An American Sherlock Holmes Recovers Stolen Coins

Once a detective, always a detective. George S. Dougherty, former Deputy Police Commissioner of New York, has written a readable book of his recent pleasure trip to Europe, prepared in the form of a diary. Here is a live detective story secreted in its pages:

“December 2, 1921. – Today met Berlin’s genius of criminal investigation, Trettin. He is thirty years old, was a lieutenant in the Royal Hussars during the war, and lost his arm in the service of his country. Through an interpreter we had a long talk. Trettin is trying to locate 1,500,000 marks’ worth of rare coins and medals stolen last June from Ferrera, Italy. We agreed to work out a little plan to locate the collection and the thieves by having, on my suggestion, a report circulated in the underworld and through the afternoon press that I am a wealthy American, stopping at the Esplanade, and a collector of rare coins and medallions.

December 3, 1921. – At 3 o’clock today two agents of the thieves, who possessed the stolen coins, visited me at my hotel with an interpreter. They asked 1,000,000 marks for the collection. I paid 50,000 marks deposit as an evidence of good faith, with permission to inspect. After much discussion they agreed and did take me in an automobile to Shiebler Strasse, about five miles from my hotel, shadowed by Chief Trettin in another automobile full of German detectives. In the apartment I was shown by the two possessors eighty-one trays containing a total of 4,449 medals, of which  323 were solid gold and 1,080 were silver, the balance, copper, etc. We came to an agreement as to price, and the balance of the money was to be paid at my hotel. When the trunk and two boxes were carried down to the sidewalk we were all arrested and the collection seized. The prisoners were taken to police headquarters, where Chief Trettin, some mutual friends and myself drank some Moselle wine.”

Originally published in The Numismatist, Vol. 35, No. 10 (October 1922), page 507

Reproduced courtesy of THE NUMISMATIST, official publication of the American Numismatic Association (

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