Was Isaac Newton the original Sherlock Holmes?

Isaac Newton, Master of the Royal Mint 1696-1727

IMG_1303Did you know that the great Isaac Newton was once in charge of the Royal Mint? Yes, the greatest scientist of all time became head of the Mint with two main objectives; to oversee  the recoinage of old Elizabethan coins, and to eliminate counterfeiting, especially to catch one infamous “clipper” of the day the story of which is like a Sherlock Holmes novel.

The introduction below is from the website of the Royal Mint and I encourage you to read all of it and check out two novels and series:

Isaac Newton was appointed Warden of the Royal Mint in the spring of 1696 on the recommendation of Charles Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Public office was new to him, but nevertheless it was an opportunity which he had sought, and Montague’s letter of 19 March 1696 notifying him of the king’s promise of the vacant post of Warden would not have been unwelcome.


The Royal Mint was then in the Tower of London and it was accordingly to the Tower that Newton came in April 1696 to take up his new duties. It was a time of great activity, for the Royal Mint was grappling with the recoinage of old silver coins dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I and beyond. Auxiliary mints were being set up in various parts of the country, and Newton was quickly caught up in the pressure of the moment. The enormous operation was completed within three years, leaving Newton more time to devote to his main duty of investigating and bringing to justice those who clipped and counterfeited the coin of the realm.

 Continue reading this article here Royal Mint Museum

The year is 1714. Daniel Waterhouse has returned to England where he joins forces with his friend Isaac Newton to hunt down a shadowy group attempting to blow up Natural Philosophers with Infernal Devices – time bombs. As Daniel and Newton conspire, an increasingly vicious struggle is waged for England’s crown: who will take control when the ailing queen dies?
 Already famous throughout Europe for his theories of planetary motion and gravity, Isaac Newton decided to take on the job of running the Royal Mint. And there, Newton became drawn into a battle with William Chaloner, the most skilful of counterfeiters, a man who not only got away with faking His Majesty’s coins (a crime that the law equated with treason), but was trying to take over the Mint itself. But Chaloner had no idea who he was taking on. Newton pursued his enemy with the cold, implacable logic that he brought to his scientific research.

So what do you think, Isaac was Sherlock?

Categories: English History

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1 reply

  1. Nice to know that the Royal Mint claims that the new £1 coin is impossible to copy or forge – we shall see!

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