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HolmeWork Assignment: Rathbone & Bruce Personality Dollar Bills

HolmeWork Assignment: Rathbone & Bruce Personality Dollar Bills

“… for his bills were all paid in ready money …”

– The Adventure of the Five Orange Pipsi (FIVE)

This month’s HolmeWork assignment is once again due to a brief nugget that appeared in Peter E. Blau’s Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press. From the November 1995:

From This Old House (Box 468, Almont, MI 48003) offers a wide variety of “Personality Dollar Bills” with a list of possibilities ranging from Hank Aaron to Robert Young available for substitution as the portrait on U.S. currency. The list includes Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (impersonated by Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce), and the final product is thoroughly realistic. $3.95 each (three for $9.95) plus $0.75 postage.

We have come across a scan of a $1 Federal Reserve Note featuring Basil Rathbone. The Series 1995 date and the signatures of Mary Ellen Withrow and Robert E. Rubin, Treasurer and Secretary of the Treasury, respectively, would tie into this time frame.

Does anyone have one of these dollar bills with Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson?

However, we will muddy the waters further…..

In The Universal Sherlock Holmes by Ronald De Waal, published in 1994, we have the following entry.

C17316. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson Personality Dollar Bills. Almont, Mich.: The Bailey Studio, 1984.

A set of three genuine $1 bills with photographs of Rathbone as Holmes, Bruce as Watson, and Rathbone and Bruce affixed over Washington by a special process. Issued in durable acetate currency holders.

Photographs and commentaries: Afghanistanzas, 7, No. 5 (December 1984), 15-16; The Quarter£y $tatement, 5, No. 3 (August 1984), 38.

De Waal has these three notes as being produced in 1984, which would be seven years before Withrow would become Treasurer of the United States. It is quite possible that there are many different varieties out there, with various Series dates and combinations of signatures of the various Treasurers and Secretarys of the Treasury.

It is highly coincidental that both the 1984 and 1995 notes were produced in Almont, Michigan. I would imagine that both sets were produced by the same entity.

We would welcome reports of these varieties of signature combinations.

Does anyone have any of the dollar bills from this series of three?

Does anyone have access to the issues of Afghanistanzas and The Quarter£y $tatement that reference these notes (they were not available when we visited the Sherlock Holmes collection at the University of Minnesota in 2016)?

Now, it is very easy for a person to affix a picture of anyone onto a dollar bill, or a five or a ten, and so on. I’m hoping we come across one of these notes with a Sherlockian overlay…..

UPDATE February 13, 2017: We have received additional photographs of the three notes and a scan of The Quarter£y $tatement. Check them out by clicking HERE.


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