By now the New Zealand Mint is very familiar with licensed products. They have issued a wide variety of Disney themed coins for quite a few years now and their Star Wars series is very familiar to most collectors. More recently their Yu-Gi-Oh! And Frozen coin series has drawn quite a bit of interest. It should then perhaps not come as a surprise that they are seeking to expand the range of licensed items that they have on offer to other forms of media.
And so it is that the New Zealand Mint has just released a special two coin set for the BBC hit series Sherlock. Sherlock is co created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and retells Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective stories of Sherlock Holmes. The titular character is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch(The Imitation Game, Star Trek Into Darkness) while his loyal friend and confidant Dr John Watson is brought to life by Martin Freeman(The Hobbit, Fargo). The setting is contemporary London but the details and cases remain largely the same. As series co-creator Steven Moffat says: "Conan Doyle's stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they're about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes – and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that's what matters."
The reverse design of these two coins is nothing groundbreaking but they do a good job of matching the show's visual style and gives you a fair sense of the characters themselves. The Sherlock coin has a semi-pixelated image of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock on the upper right of the coin. The lower portion of the design depicts a modern London skyline with the London Eye to the left and Big Ben(officially The Elizabeth Tower) to the right. In the middle appears a molecular structure with the words “ALONE IS WHAT I HAVE. ALONE PROTECTS ME” (more on this later though).
The portrait of the main characters is the only part of the coin that has received a colour finish and as one might expect, if the first coin depicts Sherlock then the second must surely be dedicated to Watson. As with the Sherlock coin a colourized portrait of Martin Freeman's John Watson appears on the right with a the modern London skyline, as seen across Westminster Bridge, engraved on the lower third of the coin. Two fingerprints are shown in the middle portion with the words “NO, FRIENDS PROTECT PEOPLE.”. Both coins have the words “ 1 oz 999 Fine Silver © Hartswood Films Ltd 2013” inscribed in small lettering along the rim at the left of the coin.
The quotations that appear on the coins are taken from a conversation between Sherlock and Watson in the season two episode “The Reichenbach Fall”. These sentiments that they convey also very succinctly speaks to the heart of each character.
The obverse design is shared by both coins and depicts the right facing, crowned portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley. The remainder of the obverse design is taken up by the obverse legend that is inscribed along the rim in a clockwise manner indicating the country of issue, denomination and date of issue. Beginning at the left of the Queen's effigy and ending just below the legend reads : “ELIZABETH II”, “NIUE”, “TWO DOLLARS” and “2016”.
The coins are issued as legal tender under the authority of the island nation of Niue. The 40mm(1.575 inch) proof coins are each struck from 1oz of fine silver(999 Fineness). The coins will only be issued together as a set and has a limited mintage of 5000 sets. The set is issued in a special printed booklet style display case, that the New Zealand Mint has become known for in recent times. The set is available from the New Zealand mint online for US$120.00. Considering that most of these 1oz coins from the same mint usually retail for around US$80.00 each, the $120.00 price tag for two make quite a difference.
It would be interesting to note if this is purely a once off event or if we can look forward to more BBC properties appearing from the New Zealand Mint in future. A set of Doctor Who coins perhaps...?