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Julian Wolff, A Silver Dollar and A Gold Sovereign

Julian Wolff, A Silver Dollar and A Gold Sovereign

“Do you know anything of the commissionaire?”

– The Adventure of The Naval Treaty (NAVA)


Julian Wolff, M.D. – BSI Commissionaire 1961 – 1986

There are several members of our group that had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Julian Wolff, the Commissionaire of the Baker Street Irregulars from 1961 until he stepped down in 1986. There are two numismatic related connections with Dr. Wolff.

From Jon Lellenberg’s article Wolff and Still Waters from The Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Newsletter,Volume 14, No. 4, December 2010 (you can view the complete article HERE):

On 22 November 1960, at the call of Edgar P. Smith, a group of active Irregulars from the New York area, constituting an Irregular Executive Committee, met at the University Club. In addition to Edgar P. Smith and Robert Smith, the meeting was attended by William Baring-Gould, Owen Frisbie, Charles Honce, Robert K. Leavitt, James Nelson, Tom Stix [Sr.], Earle Walbridge, Frank Waters and Julian Wolff. The problems of The Baker Street Irregulars were discussed—the old ones as well as the more pressing new ones that had arisen with the loss of Edgar W. Smith.

The first item on the agenda was the future of The Baker Street Irregulars, Inc.—as distinct from The Baker Street Irregulars. The corporation affairs, being handled by Edgar P. Smith, his brothers and their wives, required considerable time and effort. Alternative methods of procedure were considered.

Then it was decided that the Journal would be continued, and Julian Wolff, who had been serving as Editor-pro-tem of the Journal, as well as acting Commissionaire of the Irregulars, was unanimously approved as Editor of The Baker Street Journal and Commissionaire of The Baker Street Irregulars.

A silver dollar that had been presented to Julian Wolff by Mrs. Edgar W. Smith was adopted as the badge of office for the Commissionaire. This coin, formerly a prized possession of Edgar W. Smith, is dated 1894, the year of his birth, and it is mounted on a neck-cord.

1894 Morgan OBV1894 Morgan REV

Could this have been the silver dollar given to Dr. Wolff?

It would be interesting to know what happened with this 1894 silver dollar that Dr. Wolff had been given at the start of his tenure as the BSI’s Commissionaire. Are there any pictures of him wearing this coin on the neck cord at any BSI functions?

Let’s now skip ahead to the 1973 BSI Dinner. This was the year where a “Sherlock Holmes Medal” was presented to Rafael Sevilla-Sacasa for his involvement with the Sherlock Holmes stamp that was issued by Nicaragua – see our earlier POST.

Also, at this same dinner, James Nelson (investitured with the name of Lady Frances Carfax), interrupted Dr. Wolff during the meeting. On behalf of a small committee of Irregulars, he presented Dr. Wolff with an 1888 gold gold sovereign in recognition of his service as Commissionaire to the group. Wolff commented that he “means to wear it on his watch-chain in memory of the occassion.”

1888 Sovereign

A 1888 Gold Sovereign of Victoria

Above, we have a 7:14 minute recording of the presentation of the gold sovereign to Dr. Wolff. This would be the only Gold Sovereign Award presented by the BSI until 2017. That’s a story for a future post.

Thanks to Jon Lellenberg for allowing us to reprint a portion of his earlier article

Thanks to Andy Solberg, Chair of the BSI Trust, for allowing us to share the recording of the 1973 ceremony.

Thanks to the 47th Garrideb, Burt Wolder, for supplying us with the recording.

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