Nobel Prize for DNA structure for sale

By Grant Jacobs 26/02/2013

The family of Francis Crick are to sell his Nobel Prize Medal and diploma, won for his work on the structure of DNA.


Crick’s 1962 Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine was shared with American James Watson and New Zealander* Maurice Wilkins, for their work on the structure of DNA. (More formally, “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.)

Family members are reported at livescience as hoping that the medal and diploma will be made available for display to the public,

“It had been tucked away for so long,” said Kindra Crick, Francis Crick’s 36-year-old granddaughter, of the medal. “We really were interested in finding someone who could look after it, and possibly put it on display so it could inspire the next generation of scientists.”

An opening bid of $500,000 has been set.

What got my attention they are also considering to sell a letter Crick wrote to his then 12 year-old son explaining the DNA structure model work is also for sale.

It’d be interesting to see his efforts at science communication from the time of suggesting the model for the structure of DNA.**


* Wilkins was born in New Zealand, emigrating to England when he was 6. After Ernest Rutherford he is New Zealand’s second Nobel laureate. People forever saying that Rosalind Franklin is the ‘forgotten’ person of the DNA structure story, but my own feelings are that Maurice Wilkins is even less well-known to the public-at-large. (Within New Zealand excepted, maybe.)

** Perhaps copies of this letter are already available? Crick later wrote some popular science books, e.g. What Mad Pursuit (1988, a memoir) and The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1995). There is also a collection of lectures about his work, Of Molecules and Men (2004). Somewhat more controversial is Life Itself: It’s Origin and Nature (1988).

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