Irish Coinage




Glossary of Numismatic Terms



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2003 - Copyright
Version 1.11
7th February, 2003



The exergue is an area of a coins design which is cut off from the main design by a line - on many traditional coin designs this is the ground line and the area beneath it often contains the date - on modern Irisah coins (1928-1969) types 6 of the 8 coins have an exergue in the reverse design which contains the value in numbers of shillings 's' and pennies 'd'.


A 'mule' is a coin which has two mismatched sides - the term is also used to a coin with the wrong edge inscription. Typically a mule occurs when the mint accidentally selects the wrong die for one side of a coin. Sometimes, especially in medieval minting, this is done on purpose to continue using an old die until it is fully worn out - as medieval dies were expensive to manufacture. The most important example in the Irish series is the 1961 mule halfcrown. The term is unfortunate in this case, as many people new to numismatics assume the term 'mule' applied to this coin is specific to the horse design - which is just a confusing coincidence. see : Identifying a 1961 Mule halfcrown


Proof coins are coins which are specially struck for a variety of purposes - the original purpose, as the name implies, was to prove the die; so the earliest proofs are akin to die trials. However from the end of the seventeeth century mints began to strike additional carefully prepared examples of the coins for presentation purposes - sometimes these are made from dies intended for circulation use and sometimes they are from specially prepared dies which have finer detail than the circulation dies. Proof coins are also generally struck with more pressure than circulation coins which makes the process slower, but produces much better impressions on the flan. The edges can often be different from the circulation coins, at a minimum they have sharper edges, but occasionally the proof strikings can have a different edge type such as a plain edge where the currency coins have a milled edge. Proofs also occur in different metals from the normal coins, such as a normally copper coin being produced in proofs in copper, bronzed copper, gilt copper and silver as occurs for the Irish 1805 penny and halfpenny coins.