Sherlock Holmes is a name synonymous with the crime fiction genre, as is his creator Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. As a giant of crime fiction, Sherlock Holmes inspired a legacy of characters in fiction and Conan Doyle influenced generations of authors who still heed his work today
This circulating commemorative 50p coin marks the 160th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s birth. A man of letters but also a man of medicine, Conan Doyle wrote sixty Sherlock Holmes stories, paving the way for the future of crime fiction. He also succeeded in the field of medicine, even volunteering as a medic in the Second Boer War in 1900.
Not just a reminder of the remarkable life of Conan Doyle, this coin is a celebration of one of the most famous detectives of all time.
The British decimal fifty pence (50p) coin - often pronounced fifty pee - is a unit of currency equalling one half of a pound sterling. It is a seven-sided coin formed as an equilateral-curve heptagon, or Reuleaux polygon - a curve of constant width, meaning that the diameter is constant across any bisection. This shape, which was revolutionary at the time, made it easily distinguishable from round coins both by feel and by sight, while its constant breadth allowed it to roll in vending machines.
The denomination was introduced in October 1969 with a large version of the coin; it was reduced in size in 1997, with the older coins being demonetised in 1998. The design of the new (smaller) type remained unchanged at that time, retaining Christopher Ironside's Britannia reverse. In 2008 though the regular reverse was changed to the current design by Matthew Dent, known as the Royal Shield reverse.
The denomination has also been used extensively to issue one-year types of commemorative coins such as this one.
Twenty pence and fifty pence coins are legal tender only up to the sum of £10; this means that it is permissible to refuse payment of sums greater than this amount in 20p and 50p coins in order to settle a debt.
Coins issued in 2019 have now been in circulation for less than one year.