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Trivia Answer – BSI Member on U.S. Coin?

Trivia Answer – BSI Member on U.S. Coin?

“…yet I dare call nothing trivial…”

– The Adventure of the Six Napoleons (SIXN)

Last month, we published the trivia question asking to name a member of the Baker Street Irregulars who appeared on a U.S. coin.  Several members responded with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who appears on three coins. The 13th Garrideb, Peter E. Blau, responded with – “The” member?  Two members of the BSI have appeared on U.S. coins . . . .

Let’s talk about Roosevelt first.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was awarded an honorary membership to the BSI in 1942 by Edgar W. Smith, Secretary of the BSI.  Roosevelt acknowledged the BSI membership in the following letter:


August 5, 1942


Dear Edgar Smith:

Of course, I shall be delighted to accept membership —honoris causa — in the Baker Street Irregulars. I am glad to have a part of any movement whose purpose is to keep green the memory of Sherlock Holmes.

Now that I belong to the the B.S.I., I cannot restrain the impulse to tell you that since I have had to give up cruising on the Potomac I sometimes go off record on Sundays to an undisclosed retreat. In that spot the group of little cabins that shelter the Secret Service men is known as Baker Street.

Many thanks for the honor.

Very sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Edgar W. Smith, Esq.
Secretary, (“Buttons”), B.S.I.
Basking Ridge
New Jersey

That letter and four others from President Roosevelt to the BSI were published in The Baker Street Journal after his death and can also be found here.  Now, let’s discuss the three coins featuring Roosevelt.

1946 FDR Dime

First appearing on January 30, 1946, the Roosevelt dime was released on the late president’s birthday. The obverse design features Roosevelt’s left-facing bust while the reverse displays a torch signifying liberty with an olive branch on the left signifying peace and an oak branch on the right signifying strength and independence.  Both designs were prepared by John R. Sinnock, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.  His “JS” monogram at the bottom of Roosevelt’s bust was thought by some to be a secret tribute to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin during the “Red Scare” of the late 1940’s.

From 1946 through 1964, the dimes were 90% silver and since 1965 have been a cupro-nickel alloy. Starting in 1992, the mint again started striking 90% silver specimens for sale to collectors.

1997 FDR $5 Gold

The United States Commemorative Coin Act of 1996 authorized a gold $5 coin honoring Roosevelt, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each coin ($35) being paid to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Commission. 100,000 coins were authorized to be minted, but less than 42,000 were made in uncirculated and proof finishes combined.

The obverse design, by T. James Ferrell, is based on one of FDR’s favorite photographs taken in 1938, depicts Roosevelt on the bridge of the U.S.S. Houston wearing a boat cloak that became a familiar trademark of FDR for many Americans.  The reverse design, by James Peed and engraved by Thomas D. Rogers, is a rendering of the Presidential seal displayed at FDR’s 1933 inaugural.

2014 RDR $1The 2014 Presidential Dollar coin of Franklin Roosevelt will soon be released for sale to collectors by the U.S. Mint. The obverse features Joseph Menna’s bust of FDR while the reverse has the series standard design by Don Everhart of the Statue of Liberty.

Now, on to Part 2 – Just who is the second member of the Baker Street Irregulars to appear on a U.S. coin that Peter Blau commented on? Denny Dobry commented that “Harry S. Truman, another honorary BSI, appeared on a US Minted non-denominational commemorative coin.”

Dobry is correct that Truman is an honorary BSI member. To date, Truman has not appeared on a U.S. coin, but he has appeared on medals struck by the U.S. Mint.  For years, the U.S. Mint has struck both 3″ and 1 5/16″ bronze medals in its Presidential medal series.  Unfortunately, they are sold out of the Truman medals at this time.

HST Pres Medal ObvHST Pres Medal Rev







Having said all of this, Truman will be honored with his appearance on the first Presidential dollar of 2015.

In addition, his wife, Bess, will be honored with her First Spouse dollar in 2015. Final designs have not yet been selected, but there are two finalist designs that also feature Harry as part of the reverse designs. We should know more about the final design in the next several weeks.

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