Irish Coinage


Edward VI
_ & _ Mary

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Irish Coinages of Edward VI and Philip and Mary (1550 to 1558)

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Irish Shillings of Edward VI

Mary (1553-1554)

Philip and Mary (1554 -1558)


© 2007 - Copyright
_ Stafford-Langan
Version 1.14a
29th March, 2007


Introduction to the Irish Coinages of Edward VI and Philip and Mary (1550 to 1558)


Irish Shillings of Edward VI

Edward IV's first coinage for Ireland was an issue of base coins in 4 denominations  (sixpence, threepence, three-halfpence and three-farthings)  in his father's name and carrying his father's portrait.  I have included this coinage in  Irish Coinage of Henry VIII (1530 - 1548) as under these conditions it is more correctly described as a posthumous coinage of Henry VIII.


Edward VI - 1552 - Shilling for Ireland

Edward did eventually restore the fineness of the English currency to sterling, but his last coinage for Ireland (and the only one in his own name) was a continuation of an issue of shillings of the base type he struck in England. The was the first introduction of this larger denomination to Ireland. 

The rather unusual aspect of this coinage is that there is a dated series of shillings from 1547 through 1552 - but it is only the pieces dated 1552  (and which also carry a harp mintmark) which are considered to be 'Irish' issues.  The earlier coins were made in much larger numbers and were issued and circulated normally in England - but the 1552 issue is specifically Irish because the English series had been discontinued and a 'fine' silver type had been issued in England but the old debased silver coins continued to be produced in parallel specifically for export to Ireland.

The coins are very scarce and are usually found in very poor condition.  The date (the final two I's being diagnostic) or the harp mintmark are often hard to see.  The combination of the poor minting standards and the very debased silver leading to corrosion on recovered examples means that high grade examples are extremely rare.

However the coin is generally less expensive than its rarity would suggest it should be, and this is probably because the other 'English' dates are available and the 1552 'Irish' issue is not particularly distinctive.

The English shillings of this issue were revalued with a series of countermarks (a portcullis and a greyhound) and 'Irish' examples are occasionally found with these countermarks indicating that they had returned to England despite being issued in Ireland.

Traditionally numismatists consider countrmarked coins to belong to the series of the countermarking country - so these English countermarked Irish shillings are part of the English series rather than being collected or catalogued as part of the Irish series.

But don't let that stop you if you want to collect them!

Mary (1553-1554)

Mary Shilling - 1553

Mary, during her short solo reign, struck shillings, groats halfgroats and pennies for Ireland, also of a base standard.  The shillings are large and attractive coins and command very high prices at auction and are scarce.  The other denominations are rare and in some cases it has been suggested that some pieces may be 18th or 19th century fabrications.

Philip and Mary (1554 -1558)

Philip and Mary Shilling 1555

Philip and Mary Groat - 1555

And after her marriage to Philip of Spain a similar coinage of base shillings and groats was produced, the half groat and penny which were produced in the previous issue were not included in this later issue. 

The coins are dated in Arabic numerals.  The shilling with the date below the busts was issued dated 1553 and 1554 and the groats dated at the side of the crown above the busts was issued dated from 1555 to 1558. 

There is not much attention paid to the individual dates of the groats as all four dates are of similar scarcity.  One rarely encounters a collection with a discrete example of each date.  The overlapping in mint marks (portcullis, rose, and eglantine) complicates the series  as does some variation on legends which is, in my opinion, of no consequence as it is just a die sinker's adjustment rather than being indicative of an change in the circumstances of the issue .