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The 1978 Arthur Conan Doyle Medal by the Monnaie de Paris

The 1978 Arthur Conan Doyle Medal by the Monnaie de Paris

“… enthusiastic admiration of the French …”

– The Adventure of The Naval Treaty (NAVA)

In the Spring 1979 issue of The Sherlock Holmes Journal (Volume 4, Number 1, Whole Number 52), Editor Nicholas Utechin has this nugget in his Editorial Notes feature:

New Objects

Pride of place-just-goes to the newly available Sir Arthur Conan Doyle medal produced by the French Mint. Members may perhaps have seen it reproduced in the Sunday Telegraph on 18 February, under the heading `Elémentaire’! On one side of the medallion is a likeness of Conan Doyle; on the other five police helmets interweaved with smoke from a familiar pipe. Two versions are available, depending upon the state of your pocket: £48 in silver, £7 in bronze. With no more information at this stage, I can only assume the French are, firstly, preparing for the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations next year (A.C.D. died in 1930) and, secondly, atoning for Mutrux.

OBVERSE: 1859 / 1930 / (facing bust of Conan Doyle, from waist up and wearing a sweater, in front of two stacks of books) / SIR A. CONAN DOYLE

REVERSE: (five British Police Officer “Bobby” helmets, with smoke from a single pipe interwining among the helmets)

68mm, Bronze, Round

You can see on the bottom of the reverse the name of Louis Leygue, the designer of this medal.

Check out the picture of the two medals above. See any differences? The one on the left is larger than the medal on the right, and is made of copper. The larger copper medal was struck by the Monnaie de Paris for their subscription program – the French Club of the Medal, and was limited to 100 pieces (with numbering on the edge). The smaller bronze medal was issued for sale to the general public. Hence, this is why there is no mention of the copper version in the SHJ article.

OBVERSE: 1859 / 1930 / (facing bust of Conan Doyle, from waist up and wearing a sweater, in front of two stacks of books) / SIR A. CONAN DOYLE

REVERSE: (five British Police Officer “Bobby” helmets, with smoke from a single pipe interweaving among the helmets)

75mm, Copper, Round

As Paul Harvey, the late American radio newscaster, often said, “Here is the rest of story….”

We have held off posting about these medals for over three years due to the fact that we cannot confirm the existence of the silver medals. We have not seen any examples ourselves and are not aware of any Sherlockians or numismatists that can confirm they physically have seen the silver version of the medal.

On a recent trip to New York, I had the opportunity to visit the library of the American Numismatic Society and peruse their copy of the Catalogue Général Illustré Des Éditions De La Monnaie De Paris. This 6-volume set consists of over 2,500 pages and is the “official” record of all items made by the Monnaie De Paris. The silver medal is not mentioned, while the bronze and copper specimens are listed.

Likewise, the catalog Leygue A La Monnaie De Paris, with all of Leygue’s works listed, does not list the silver medal either.

Efforts are being made to locate a copy of February 18, 1979 issue of The Sunday Telegraph, to determine if we can gather any additional information. We believe the silver medal does exist, as it was specifically mentioned with a quoted price for purchasers. Catalogs have been known to miss items, although we are troubled by the fact that a 1985 catalog would be missing an item from 1978-1979.

We welcome additional information and comments.

Thanks to David L. Hill, Librarian of the American Numismatic Society for his assistance.

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