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Financial Anaylsis of “The Man With the Twisted Lip”

Financial Anaylsis of “The Man With the Twisted Lip”

“Every pocket stuffed with pennies and half-pennies….”

– The Man With the Twisted Lip (TWIS)


“Every pocket stuffed with pennies and half-pennies….”
“For seven hours I plied my trade, and when I returned home in the evening I found to my surprise that I had received no less than 26s. 4d.
“… had a writ served upon me for £25.” “In ten days I had the money and had paid the debt.”
“I do not mean that any beggar in the streets of London could earn £700 a year….”

I’ve always found such writing offensive, as it trivializes the pain of grinding poverty and suggests escaping it is easy. English society in Holmes’s time was even more stratified that America today. So I decided to build a spreadsheet from these statements. I had to refresh my understanding of Sterling coinage to interpret the statements. My first discovery was that the math in the three passages is consistent. In each case, Boone is bringing in a bit over two pounds a day.

But the real question, to me, is does it work that way? Recalculating the data, I learn that Boone is taking in a bit over a pence a minute. Now we’ve got a yardstick to test these include claims. Are donors, like bees visiting flowers, giving this frequently? Remember, his take is in pence or half-pence coins. Watching beggars outside of Metro stations or camped at traffic lights, I simply don’t see that level of giving. The traffic light people only succeed when the light is red (every few minutes), and not that often.

I think it’s bunk.

This story originally appeared in the 2018 edtion of Irene’s Cabinet, published by our friends at Watson’s Tin Box, and is reprinted here with permission.

William (Bill) Mosteller is faux Sherlockian. When he reads a story, he worries whether it conforms to the source, the Jeremy Brett episode from Granada. He attends Scion society meetings because Mary Russell sent him.