Limerick and other Civil War Issues
Reverse of a Limerick halfpenny, 1691
In March 1690 James also
issued some pennies and halfpennies in pewter which are
scarce and a number of patterns for coinage in pewter and
Among these was a crown
of similar design to the 'gunmoney' issue but of better
After the Battle of the
Boyne in July 1690 the mint at Limerick continued to
strike coins in James's name.
William and Mary,
however, revalued the gunmoney coinage following which
the mint at Limerick issued a short series of halfpennies
(pictured above) and farthings struck from gunmoney coins
and dated 1691.
Limerick fell to Willaim
on Oct, 3, 1691 and the Limerick issue in the name of
James II ceased.
& Mary (1692 - 1694)
Halfpenny of William and Mary of 1693
William and Mary ascended
to the English throne in 1688 but it was not until the
end of 1691 that they had complete control of Ireland.
In 1692 they resumed a
copper regal coinage of halfpennies very similar to the
style of the previous coppers of Charles II and James II.
These copper halfpennies
were issued for three years and are dated 1692, 1693 and
William III (1696)
William III halfpenny of 1696 - draped bust type
Mary died in 1694 and
William III continued his reign alone. In 1696 he issued
a halfpenny of a similar type to the earlier coins.
After 1696 no further
coinage was struck for Ireland until 1722.
and his coinage (1722-1724)
A 'Wood's' halfpenny of 1722 (first type)
In 1722 William Wood
purchased a patent for striking copper halfpennies and
farthings for Ireland.
Wood was a mine owner and
entrepreneur and envisaged making a large profit on the
difference between the cost of the metal, patent and
workmanship and the face value of the coins.
The coins were first
issued in 1722 in small numbers and during 1723 they were
issued in much larger numbers.
Wood's Halfpenny Type II - 1723 - no pellet before rev
The coins were considered
sub-standard by the population of Ireland (mainly Dublin)
and the king was petitioned to revoke the patent.
The patent was
surrendered by Wood in 1724 in exchange for a pension
from the Irish Government.
As Wood's coinage was
unpopular in Ireland much of the issue was shipped to the
American colonies where numismatists include it in their
In fact Wood's coinage
was of a good standard and would have only turned a small
profit for Wood on the basis of the original patent. The
pension was a significant profit on the deal.
Wood issued halfpennies
and farthings of two types in 1722. The coins of 1723 and
1724 are of the second type only.
A number of patterns and
proofs exist for this coinage.
regal copper (1736-1760)
George II - Farthing 1737 - Silver Proof
In 1736 George II
introduced a new coinage in copper for Ireland. It was to
consist of halfpennies and farthings though the farthing
didn't appear until 1737.
The coins for this issue
were made in London in the Royal Mint and were shipped to
Ireland to be placed in circulation.
These regal coppers were
well made and of good weight so they quickly became
accepted in place of the copper tokens that had
characterised Irish currency after the failure of the
The George II coppers
were produced for a number of years until his death in
1760. Not every date is represented in the series. The
halfpennies were generally issued in much larger numbers
and are consequently more common.
Proofs in Silver (see
picture) were issued in the first year of production of
each denomination. Proofs in Copper were issued in these
years and several others.
About a quarter of the
total production is represented by one year, 1760, (illustrated) which also uses an older bust
than the other years.
Obverse of a 'Voce Populi" Halfpenny of 1760
In 1760 a Dublin button
maker produced and issued a series of copper halfpenny
and farthing tokens with the obverse legend VOCE POPULI
in place of the regal title and a reverse design of
Hibernia seated similar to that on the English copper of
There has been much
speculation as to the meaning of the legend on the Voce
Populi issue and there are two general opinoins.
The first opinion is that
they represent a voicing of the Irish continuing suport
for the young Stuart pretender to the English throne. The
alternate opinion is that the shortage of change in
Ireland as the regal coppers had not been issued since
1755 was the reason for the issue and the 'voice of the
people' refers to their need for change.
The Voce Populi coins
made their way to America where like the Wood's coinage
they are considered part of the colonial series.
The Voce Populi coinage
is considered part of the regular coinage of Ireland
rather than as part of the token series because they do
not carry details of their issuer and because they had no
mechanism for redemption.
There are a number of
varieties of the Voce Populi coinage including a piece
with the date 1760 placed so badly on the die to appear
to be dated 1700 and another with the legend VOOE POPULI
where a die crack caused the 'C' to appear as an 'O'. The
picture above is an example of this piece in an early die
state before the crack became severe. In a recent
conversation an American numismatist suggested that the
VOOE error is actually an O entered into the die in error
and that the apparently earlier coins are in fact later
coins after a repair had been carried out on the die.
regal copper (1766-1782)
In 1766, six year after
coming to the English throne, George III produced an
issue of copper halfpennies for Ireland (illustrated). These coins are similar in
design to those of George II. The farthing denomination
was not struck. The issue was continued in 1769 and
second issue the same year with some modifications to the
bust of the monarch was also produced. The design was
modified again in 1774 and coins were issued dated 1774,
1775, 1776, 1781 and finally in 1782.
A number of proofs exist
of these coins the commonest of which are of the 1775 (illustrated) and 1782 dates.
The size of the issue of
these halfpennies was not sufficiently large to provide
change for the Irish economy and during the letter years
of the issue and subsequently a large number of
contemporary copies were made in Ireland.
The standard of
workmanship in the contemporary forgeries varies greatly;
some specimens being as well made as the official Royal
Mint pieces and others being very poorly executed and
obviously much lighter and thinner.
The act of forging regal
coinage carried a severe penalty so the forgeries began
to carry a number of legends other than the regal one.
Some spurious legends are biblical and others are simply
jumbled letters. The reverse legend HIBERNIA is similarly
altered on some specimens.
A number of these
forgeries made their way to America and they are included
in the colonial series. As is the way with such things
the Irish forged coppers with US attributable legends
such as 'George President' or 'George Washington' (instead
of 'Georguis III Rex') are much more sought after than
the coins with Irish or English references in their
legends despite being no more scarce.
By the end of the 1780's
the need for small change became desperate both in
Ireland and England as King George III had become mad and
was unable to sign any coinage acts. The regal
prerogative over the right to mint coin having been
carefully guarded by the monarchy while other trappings
of power devolved to Parliament. This resulted in an
extensive series of copper tokens being issued in this
period and up until about 1804 though the later pieces
are often dated before 1794 to avoid the more severe
penalties to restrict tokens introduced in that year. The
tokens of this period will be covered in: Irish Tokens (1200
and Soho Coppers (1804-1813)
Six Shilling Bank Token of George III of 1804 (specimen)
By the early 1800's the
poor state of the currency in Ireland was placing a
severe restriction on the functioning of the Irish
economy with a mixed variety of foreign coins of varying
quality silver content making up the middle tier of the
circulating coinage. The lower tier being made up of a
series of poorly made copper tokens and even poorer
forgeries of these tokens.
Only the gold in
circulation (which was primarily English, but included
smaller quantities of many foreign coinages) was of good
quality but it was difficult to obtain good quality
change for gold and it carried a significant premium in
exchange. Banknotes also began to appear in Ireland at
The Bank of Ireland tried
to aleviate the problem by importing quantities of
Spanish (or South American) 8 real pieces which by this
time had become one of the standard coins of the world.
However as the price of
silver against gold was varying widely at this time it
was difficult to establish a constant value for these
peices as the country would alternatively be flooded or
drained of the coins.
The bank decide to
restrike the coins with a higher face value than was
appropriate for their intrinsic worth and issued a large
quantity of six shilling coins with the design struck
over the spanish pieces. The pieces were not universally
popular but did stabalise the economy for a time. The
restriking was carried out by Mathew Boulton in his
private mint in Soho in Birmingham as the Royal Mint had
no free capacity.
In 1805 and 1806 the
Royal Mint authorised Mathew Boulton to strike an issue
of copper pennies, halfpennies and farthings for issuing
The Bank of Ireland
continued its production of bank tokens in silver with
the release of a five and ten pence coin dated 1805 and
1806. The Act authorising the tokens was only effective
for 1805 so the bank quickly redated the coins to 1805
and continued to issue these tokens dated 1805 during
1806, 1807 and 1808.
In 1808 a thirty pence (half
a crown) token was added to the series and a final issue
of 10 pence tokens occurred in 1813.
George III Halfpenny - 1805
Mathew Boulton also
struck an issue of copper pennies and halfpennies in 1805
and farthings in 1806 in Soho which were official regal
coinage and not of token status. These copper issues also
occur in proof or specimen strikings in copper, bronzed
copper, copper gilt, silver and gold. The currency issues
have an engrailed edge (i.e. a grove cut into the edge
around the coin) with oblique milling within the
engrailing. The proof and specimen coins occur with plain
edges and with the engrailing. Some proofs, typically the
gilt and the silver and gold examples were issued in
bonze cases or shells. Examples with the original shells
command a better price than the coins without the shells.
Both the bank tokens and
the 'Soho' coppers were struck in a number of specimens
and proofs. The coin illustrated above is an example of
one of 1,000 specimen strikings of the 1804 six shilling
piece. These specimens are generaly prooflike and are
often called proofs.
regal copper (1822-1823)
Irish Penny of George IV of 1822
In 1822 and 1823 a small
issue of pennies and halfpennies was released for use in
Ireland by the Royal Mint.
By this time the normal
English currency, which had been reformed in 1816, was
circulating in Ireland along with an extensive series of
banknotes of the numerous private banks in Ireland.
The coinage also
consisted of a farthing which was not issued and only
specimens or patterns exist.
Proof strikings of the
penny and halfpenny exist for both years of issue and
there is a scarce pattern penny with a narrower harp that
the normal issue.
In 1826 the Irish
currency was formally abolished and the Irish pound which
had been valued a few pence below the sterling pound was
brought into line and ceased to exist as a seperate
From 1826 until the
founding of the state the English currency was also
issued in Ireland for circulation here. From 1928 when
the Irish Free State issued its own currency it was still
guaranteed in London in sterling until 1960. English
coins and banknotes circulated freely in Ireland until
1978 when the Irish pound joined the EMS and the
currencies diverged. Low denomination English coins are
still commonly accepted in Ireland and mix freely with
the Irish copper coins.
The Irish coinage since
Independence is covered in