Irish Coinage




Irish Gunmoney (1689-1690)




© 2001 - Copyright
_ Stafford-Langan
Version 1.11a
16 June, 2003


Gunmoney Crown - 1690

This coin is typical example of a gunmoney crown (or 5 shilling piece) issued about May - July 1690 in Dublin and possibly until August or September 1690 in Limerick.

Unlike other 'gunmoney' denominations the crown was not dated by month.

There are a number of varieties of gunmoney crowns with variations in the division of the reverse legend and a number of different 'horsemen' on the obverse. Two pieces one with the sword pointing to the 'E' of REX and another with a 'chubby' horseman are actively collected as scarce varieties.

Gunmoney crown proofs or trials occur in a variety of metals including gold, silver and tin. The proofs are all rare.

The design of the gunmoney crown is very similar to the design used in the earlier (April 1690) white metal issue. However the earlier issue is made from much better quality dies and often has two copper or brass plugs in the flan. These pieces also occur in precious metal proofs and all are rare.

A Large Gunmoney Halfcrown, May 1690 (Reverse)

This coin is a large gunmoney halfcrown (or thirty pence, hence XXX above the crown) which was issued by James II from about June 1689 until May 1690.

This issue was superseded in April 1690 by a smaller coin of similar design which lasted until October 1690. The later coins were struck in Limerick as the Dublin mint was captured after the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and closed.

The gunmoney halfcrowns occur in proof or trial specimens in gold and silver. The gold proofs are very rare and the silver ones are scarce.

Many varieties of gunmoney halfcrown exist mostly varying in how the month is written. For example October 1689 is written in the following ways:
Oct: / Octr. / OCT / OCT. / OCTr. / 8r. / 8 BER

One curious variety which occurs for August 1689 has the crown and sceptres reversed with respect to the reverse legend. This coin gives us an insight to the method of manufacture of the dies.

Gunmoney coins show a 0, 90, 180 or 270 degree die axis indicating that the dies were on square shafts without keys and could be fitted into the press in any of four orientations.

To download larger images of this coin select the


(about 70 Kb each) with a scale in centimeters.

James II Gunmoney Large Shilling - Dec 1689

This is an example of a large gunmoney shilling. As with the halfcrown (above) the large shilling was superseded by a smaller specimen in April 1690.

Because the new year began in March at this time the coin above dated February 1689 was struck in the month we would call February 1690. Coins dated March 1689 and March 1690 were all struck in the same month, which we would now call March 1690. Clearly there would have been confusion if this coinage had been issued for more than one year as coins actually struck in the month we know of as March 1691 would have been dated both March 1690 for the end of the outgoing year and March 1691 for the beginning of the incoming year.

James II complete gunmoney issue in Ireland only lasted from June 1689 until July 1690 so no confusion occurs by there being two Marches! The coins dated after July 1690 were struck in Limerick after James had fled to France. Minting of gunmoney in Limerick continued until October 1690.

James II - Gunmoney - Small Shilling - May 1690

As with the halfcrowns the shilling occurs with a large number of varieties mostly based on the way the month is written. However a number of more interesting varieties also occur, for example, with cinquefoil (rather than pellet) stops or with a small castle below the bust.

Proofs also occur in silver and gold. The gold proofs are rare but the silver proofs though they do not occur for as many months as the halfcrown are not as scarce.


Gunmoney Sixpences

Gunmoney sixpences are similar to the small shillings in design except that they contain 'VI' above the crown rather than 'XII'.

The sixpences all belong to the 'large' issue and no small sixpences were struck. They occur from July 1689 until October 1690. The later dates are possibly spurious.

The gunmoney shillings and sixpences have grained edges but the halfcrown and crown have milled edges with a leaf or diamond pattern.

Varieties of these coins are much as those for the shillings and halfcrowns and proofs occur in silver and gold. The gold proofs are rare and the silver proofs are scarce.

It is generally accepted that some of the existing gunmoney proofs are the result of later restriking with original dies, possibly during the eighteenth century as commemorative pieces carried by supporters of the young pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie both of whom owed their claim to the English throne to their descent from James II. There is still a Stuart descendant alive today who is considered to be the direct heir to James's crown.