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Mary Morstan Shoots a 50 Pence Coin in “His Last Vow”

Mary Morstan Shoots a 50 Pence Coin in “His Last Vow”

“… one of the best shots in the world …”

– The Adventure of the Empty House (EMPT)

A GIF image prepared by Tumblr user AllTheSherlockGIFS.

When reading the sixty stories of the Canon, there are numerous references to coins and/or money through out the stories. However, when viewing the 13 episodes of the BBC television series, Sherlock, the references to money is somewhat limited.

In the final episode of season 3, titled His Last Vow, this CLIP has two separate scenes that feature coins, albeit briefly.

Double-click on this picture to see the 5 minute video clip. from His Last Vow.

At the beginning of the scene, Mary Morstan is walking towards Leinster Gardens and walks past a homeless person. Mary gives a handful of coins to the homeless man, who turns out to actually be Bill Wiggins.

Then, starting at about 2:48 into this clip, we have the second scene that has Mary shooting a coin in mid-air. The transcript of the scene follows:

In the present, Mary has stopped about halfway along the corridor.
MARY: You were very slow.
SHERLOCK (over phone): How good a shot are you?
(She reaches inside her coat, pulls out her pistol and cocks it, holding it down by her side.)
MARY: How badly do you want to find out?
SHERLOCK (over phone): If I die here, my body will be found in a building with your face projected on the front of it. Even Scotland Yard could get somewhere with that.
(She nods her agreement, still looking towards the shadowed figure at the end of the corridor. She can see one side of the popped coat collar protruding out of the shadows.)
SHERLOCK (over phone): I want to know how good you are. (Softly, encouragingly) Go on. Show me. The doctor’s wife must be a little bit bored by now.
(Shifting her pistol in her grip, Mary looks down and reaches into her shoulder bag and takes out a fifty pence coin. Balancing it on her thumb and forefinger, she looks up to gauge the height of the ceiling, then flicks the coin high into the air, raises the gun and fires at it. The ejected shell pings off the wall in front of her and she turns and lowers her head to avoid the coin as it falls down to the floor. She turns to look at the shadowed figure. Behind her a shadow appears on the wall as someone walks through the open front door. The shadow is instantly recognisable as Sherlock’s with its curly hair and popped collar, and now he lowers his phone from his ear and switches it off while he walks towards her.)
SHERLOCK: May I see?
(Mary peers towards the shadowy figure sitting at the end of the corridor, then lowers her head and turns to Sherlock, laughing quietly.)
MARY: It’s a dummy.
(She takes the headset from her ear.)
MARY: I suppose it was a fairly obvious trick.
(She walks a few paces forward, puts her foot against the coin and sends it sliding across the floor towards him. Sherlock puts his foot onto it to stop it. He looks at her as she continues her slow walk towards him, then he bends down and picks up the coin. When he straightens up and speaks, his voice is tight with pain.)
SHERLOCK: And yet, over a distance of six feet, you failed to make a kill shot.
(He holds the coin up to show the hole shot through it. He looks like hell – shaky on his feet, sweating and breathing heavily as he continues talking.)
SHERLOCK: Enough to hospitalise me; not enough to kill me. That wasn’t a miss.
(He smiles slightly.)
SHERLOCK: That was surgery.
(Mary meets his gaze for a moment, then lowers her eyes.)
SHERLOCK: I’ll take the case.

By the way, that transcript was prepared by Ariane DeVere, aka Callie Sullivan, and can be found HERE. The clip matches up with the start of her transcript, which is the third of four parts, for that episode.

We have looked at this clip too many times, and have come to the opinion that the coin that was shot was a 50 pence coin, struck between 1997 and 2008. We have a couple of supporting facts to help make this identification.

  • The coin is seven-sided, limiting our options to either a 20 or 50 pence coin. It seems logical to shoot at a larger coin.
  • This episode aired in early 2014, with filming probably in 2012 or 2013.
  • In viewing the video, we were able to see the legend “TY PENCE” was at the top of the design.  The lettering style does not match with any 20 pence coin or any other 50 pence coin in circulation at the time of production.
  • In the video, we can make out a portion of Britannia’s helmet below the letter Y of fifty.

While the Britannia design was in use since 1969, in 1997 a lighter and smaller 50 pence coin was introduced, and the old coins were removed from circulation. In 2008, a new design was introduced that featured a section of the Royal Arms showing elements of the third and fourth quarterings, which when placed next to the other circulating coins, actually makes up a full shield. We discussed this design element in an earlier post.

Fan Art by a unknown person.

We’ll close this post with a image of a 2014 “coin” featuring Martin Freeman as Watson (facing right) with the legend of JOHN HAMISH WATSON above. You’ll notice that the coin has been shot through. Could this fan art been inspired by this episode of Sherlock?


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