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The Case of the Winthrop Legend – November 29, 1954

The Case of the Winthrop Legend – November 29, 1954

Howard & Crawford

In 1954, Ronald Howard and H. Marion Crawford would star as Holmes and Watson in 39 episodes of a syndicated Sherlock Holmes television series. The 30 minute episodes were produced by Sheldon Reynolds, who would later do another Holmes series, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, in 1980 and would reuse many of the same episodes.

Many of the stories in the series had a numismatic ring or theme to the plot. Episode 7, The Case of the Winthrop Legend, is an excellent example of this. This episode originally aired on November 29, 1954.

At the beginning of the episode, Watson is narrating and indicates that the following story takes place shortly after Holmes and Watson had met. This fact is important later on. Harvey Winthrop visits 221b Baker Street to engage Holmes in regards to a family legend that threatens his older brother, John.

Winthrop recounts a legend that foreshadows that every member of his family who will die a violent death will unexpectedly find silver pieces of eight on their person before dying. Upon their death, a gold doubloon would be found on the corpse.  This exact scenario happened to his father 30 years ago.  Now, for the last seven days, John has discovered silver coins on him.

Holmes and Watson head to Winthrop Manor for the weekend as older brother John has decided to challenge the legend.  While in the sitting room before dinner, a silver coin falls out of John’s dinner jacket as he reaches for his cigarette case.  Before the end of the night, John will be dead.

Gold DoubloonIn the final scene, Holmes and Watson are crouched over a corpse and holding a gold doubloon.

George V silver obverseNow, when John earlier reached for his cigarette case, a silver coin dropped to the floor. Watching the video carefully, we can clearly see that the coin is not a silver piece of eight, but what appears to be a half crown of George V.  Only the obverse of the coin can be seen.

This is a second error.  As Watson had indicated that this story took place early in Holmes and Watson’s sharing of lodgings at Baker Street, the silver coin should have featured Queen Victoria.  George V ruled from 1910 through 1936.

I find it interesting that the screenplay referenced pieces of eights and doubloons, which are Spanish coins.  I would have thought that references to English coins such as silver crowns and sovereigns, even guineas, would have been used instead.  Any thoughts?

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