Catalogue of Irish Coin Prices
Modern Coins 1928-1969
Introduction to the Modern Coin Catalogue
The nature of coins is that they are produced in large numbers to facilitate commerce in a state. Therefore they are not normally scarce. This is especially true of coins produced in the 20th century, such as those on this page. However normal coins see normal circulation and after a time examples in better condition can become scarce. The relative scarcity of older coins in good condition is a function of many factors, the economic environment being one.
The value of a coin is a function of its scarcity for its type and condition, and the number of collectors seeking an example. The rarest coins in the world and the most expensive coins are not the same. Naturally the most expensive are not particularly common, but it is certainly true that obscure but extremely rare coins (even unique examples) can be quite inexpensive.
At the moment (Jan 2001) the most expensive coin (in terms of realised auction value) is the US 1804 Dollar which sold last year for just over $4,000,000.00. There are 15 examples known (in three varieties). Since I wrote this the only 1933 US double eagle has exceeded this price, but the comparison with the Irish coins is still valid.
An Irish halfpenny of Edward III of which only two examples are known sold at about the same time for about $10,000 and and Irish penny of Henry VII again one of two known examples sold for $900. Of course if you spend several decades studying, buying and selling coins there is some sense to it - or is there ? :-)
In terms of modern Irish coins the earlier coins are generally difficult to get in very high grade (i.e. Uncirculated or better), with the exception of the first year of issue, 1928 which is generally common. However it is the three silver denominations which are particularly scarce for dates between 1930 and 1937.
The 1943 florin and halfcrown ( discussed here ) are rare because of Central Bank decisions rather than normal circulation issues. And several dates in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are surprisingly rare or common for some denominations considering their mintage.
The 1938 penny and halfcrown ( discussed here ) are not really circulating coins, they are patterns for the new designs to be introduced the following year.
The base of collectors is small so a small hoard of early uncirculated coins of a particular date could significantly alter the price of those coins subsequently.
Buy rarities with caution, there are occasional rumours of hoards of this coin or that coin being released slowly onto the market so as not to 'kill' it.
Recent sales (i.e. 1999/2000) have seen strong prices for modern Irish coins particularly the two Whytes (www.whytes.ie) sales in February and the 'Millennial Sale' in April 2000. Part of this strength, viewed from the perspective of Irish pound prices, is probably reflected by the strength of Sterling and the US Dollar as many collectors are based in the UK and USA. However the local Irish economy has been through a significant boom which must be an additional factor.
Prices below are expressed in terms of what a collector seeking a particular coin and in contact with several dealers with stocks might expect to pay. An isolated collector who doesn't see many Irish coins might often pay more and be quite happy to do so. A seller looking to sell a coin may get significantly less unless they can tap into a direct market (such as on-line auctions) and even in these environments the 'risk factor' reduces the percentage of these prices available.
Prices for common coins in low grade are listed but in reality these coins are very common and price is usually a function of distance from Ireland as they can be purchased very cheaply in the occasional Dublin Coin Fairs.
Finally, remember that there is no guaranteed market in coins - prices in this and any other catalogue are a matter of opinion based on past sales and an understanding of the range of existing coins and existing collectors. I believe that my opinions are as valid as any others and being on-line I can adjust them as I learn, but they are just my opinions.
Note : as of October 2007 I have added three additional grades to these tables. Two below the previous uncirculated grade and one above it.
I have indicated the equivalent US grades. The level of grade inflation in the better US grading agencies is such that a coin which would have been universally called an attractive Fine twenty-five years ago will now readily get a grade of VF25-VF30. And this is from the premier firms. Unfortunately for my poor collection the 'attractive Fines' I bought twenty five years ago are still only 'attractive Fines' today!
I have therefore paired the traditional European grades with their current equivalent, in my opinion, in US grades as given out by the premier grading agencies.
This means that I have called US Very Fine 20 the equivalent of Fine - which is counter intuitive but that's the way I see it.
There is a proliferation of other grading agencies whose output is in my opinion is the equivalent of putting a label on a coin saying 'don't buy me'. You can decide for yourself which agencies fall into which categories.
It is quite common to see Irish coins in 'slabs', from even the premier graders, which show clear circulation patterns of light wear with grades as high as MS63. So you really do have to get into the habit of judging the coin itself and not the slab it is in.
It is a general rule that any dealer that sees a coin in a slab with a lower grade than he/she thinks it deserves will crack the slab and resubmit it in the hope of getting a better grade. You'll go a long way to find somebody who'll crack a slab to resubmit a coin that they think was overgraded. This pretty much ensures that any coin will eventually get graded up as high as reason will stretch it.
Clearly as the better agencies have a more uniform approach, even if it seems to be slowly moving upwards over time, there is now a premium attaching to a grade from a better agency, or perhaps better expressed from the point of European grading as having a smaller grade discount than some of the less reputable agencies.
As the empty 'slabs' are themselves now freely available there are coins appearing in slabs which carry grades which are not just optimistic but basically fraudulent - so caveat emptor!
I have also introduced a way of indicating the average grade that these coins turn up in (using a grey background). This feature is used on some European catalogues, I have found it useful at times.
I will be happy to debate the values in these lists - but if you ask me to explain why a particular coin is relatively higher or lower on my list than on another source then I may only be able to shrug and say that that's the way I see it!
Finally, while I do watch eBay quite actively I find that I do have to discount some eBay prices as not relevant - the trends for the better quality coin collector pieces are often quite useful, but some Irish coins, the Pearse ten shillings in particular, has a following outside the coin collecting fraternity and often a following which doesn't understand grading particularly well so they often fetch widely varying prices - occasionally two finishing on the same day will finish with the poorer one selling for much more than the better one.
I have included a high quality uncirculated grade; US: MS65 (MS65R for bronze). There is not a lot of data to support the prices I have supplied. Irish coins, particularly from before about 1948 or so, are very scarce in this grade and higher. Because there are very few slabbed Irish coins traded there is little record of precise grades for the better uncirculated pieces. But the collectors do know the difference - in local auctions there is very keen bidding on better quality uncirculated pieces, but it is only where I have viewed the lot and specifically noted a grade that I can make use of the data.
Or in other words - I have guessed what some pieces would cost in the highest grades.
Having said that the pieces are rare in these grades, it is clear that the Irish and UK markets for Irish coins are not yet mature enough for the real rarity of the higher uncirculated grade to be appreciated. I am inclined to expect the MS65 prices to stretch away from the MS63 prices over time driven by the US market with its dependence on 'slabbing' and precise (albeit inflated) grading.
The most significant factor in determining the relative stretch between the MS63 grades and the MS65 grades seems to be whether the coin was ever issued in a set - clearly if a coin was present in a set then the higher grades are relatively more likely to turn up (still very scarce, of course). So the rather odd combinations of dates that turn up in the mixed date mint sets from about 1940 through to about 1960 which I have been recording for years actually turn out to correlate to the to relative demand for 'better' uncirculated compared to 'normal' uncirculated pieces.
Prices in Black Bold have been revised upwards - prices in Red Bold have been revised downwards
There are some notes on grading and on the scarcer coins in each denomination below most tables
Recently (2006) fake 1941 farthings have appeared on the
Farthings were not very common in
circulation after 1950 and vanished entirely around 1960
Farthings are rarely found heavily worn - but damaged coins are not uncommon - especially for the dates from 1928 to 1932 (I have no idea why!).
Coins in grades below fine and coins with damage are generally of only trivial value.
The 1959 issue and the 1966 issue are often available in small uncirculated groups.
The grey background indicatives the condition the coin normally turns up in - this is essentially the condition that the coins were in towards the end of their circulation in 1969. The halfpenny was a very significant circulating coin through to about 1960 - thereafter it was still used but only singly to make change for small purchases. So the normal wear on the later coins is less than their dates suggest - this is particularly true of the 1953 coin which is very common in better grades because the coins minted in 1953 were released to circulation right up to 1964 because of low demand for halfpennies during the 1950s.
Where a date has no condition indicated as the 'normal' condition this is because the normal condition is lower than the grades covered in the catalogue. I have not assigned values to these as in general a collector should be easily able to find any halfpenny coins in Fine condition. While examples in lower grades are often offered for sale, such as on eBay, only the 1933 and 1939 dates have any value in grades below Fine and even these are not worth more than a couple of Euros.
Where there is a - in the value column for the proof strikings this is an indication that no proofs are available to collectors - in some of these cases there is a single proof coin known which is in the British Museum's collection having been struck for the Museum by the Royal Mint.
The mintage figures do not record the number of proofs struck except for the 1928 proof strikings.
** 1940 pennies are not difficult to obtain in nice EF with traces of mint lustre around the devices and in the harp strings. They are only particularly difficult to find in red uncirculated condition. The higher grade prices, as with other bronze coins, is for an original red lustrous uncirculated coin. A brown or partially brown coin even though exhibiting no wear and clearly uncirculated is worth substantially less - in the region of € 160-€ 250.
Many fine collections I have seen, which feature excellent examples of the other rarities in the series, contain a 1940 penny in only EF or AU condition.
Examples in Very Fine or worse condition are common.
*** The only 1938 penny known in private hands is in brown uncirculated condition. It has a very strong rim and appears to have been struck in proof quality but without a polished die. It was sold in an Australian auction a few years ago and was subsequently sold by Spink in London in 2002. It is now in a private collection..
This coin exists because of the need to test the dies for the new penny and halfcrown reverses. Trials exist dated 1938 for two denominations; the halfcrown and penny, both of which had a reverse design modification - the halfcrown design modified in 1938 gave rise to the 1961 mule where the older reverse design was inadvertently used on some coins. There are no 'mule' pennies known.
One 1938 penny and one 1938 halfcrown are in the National Museum of Ireland. The 1938 halfcrown is apparently unique.
The 1942 and 1968 pennies are occasionally found with the body of the second chick missing from behind the hen's leg
The error at first glance looks like a filled die problem, however the die is different in other areas, most noticeably in the shape of the portion of the far wing visible behind the raised claw.
1968 examples are relatively easy to find in UNC. 1942 examples are not difficult to find but just as nice 1942 pennies are harder to find than 1968 ones the chickless examples are harder to find in choice condition. However I have managed to buy a Brilliant Uncirculated 1942 example and I believe that other uncirculated examples will turn up when people begin to look for them.
This variety may exist for other dates - probable if a different master die caused it - I have a report of a 1948 penny, but no other dates so far.
The collector interest is slight (though this may be too generous a term).
Don't confuse the 1964 proof penny with the 1962 and 1963 coins. Besides the 1928 proofs (and the 1966 10 shilling proof) the 1962 and 1963 proof pennies are the only readily available proof coins in this series. All the other proofs are extremely rare. Naturally the proofs are only of significant value if they are in original proof condition or nearly so.
The 1968 proof on the table above refers to the scarce Royal mint striking with mirror fields and frosted devices (illustration)
There are other coins referred to as proofs - a small batch of coins purportedly produced as a trial for a 'last of the pound-shillings and pence' set turned up some years ago - these coin appear to be more like a polished specimen striking than a proof - I have seen no documentation to support their production outside the Royal Mint. They can be distinguished from a normal circulation strike by the better quality surfaces, but the difference is marginal - they may just turn out to be a small run of normal 'early-strike' pieces.
Irish threepences, especially the nickel issues (1928-1940), are very difficult to grade in the Good Extremely Fine through AU to UNC range as the metal is hard-wearing and not prone to corrosion.. Be particularly careful not to over grade (or have it done to you) when buying high grade examples of 1933, 1935 or 1939. These coins in Uncirculated condition should have a mint bloom on the surface and should have sharp details on the hare's whiskers.
A weakly struck example (particularly a problem with 1933) is worth less even if it is really UNC - if your don't believe this when you buy the coin, you'll certainly find out when you try to sell it.
The corollary is that a collector with a more modest budget can buy an example which looks very like an UNC example for much less than the UNC price. This is not true of the bronze or silver denominations where the evidence of light circulation is much easier to detect and the colour of the coin is usually different from an UNC example.
The nickel coins (1928-1940) often have very obvious striking 'flow' marks. These are the radial lines that appear in the field of the coin and are most obvious towards the periphery (I will include a picture - when I have an opportunity). They are caused by the die being gradually scoured by the hard nickel metal as successive coins are struck. Clearly the dies for these coins were being pushed beyond their normal working life. This is a particular problem in the 1933-1935 dates, but it does occur for all the nickel dates and was one of the factors in the change to cupro-nickel for the 1942 issue. These marks, especially in higher grade coins, do not really lower the effective grade of the coin as they are production characteristics. However they will reduce the value of a coin, and for high grade coins they should normally be included in the description. Again as with the weakly struck coins, if you don't take this into account when buying a coin you will find out about it when you try to sell it.
Where there is no grey background to indicate the normal grade for a coin that indicates that the con normally turns up in a grade lower than that on the table. The 1928 to 1935 coins normally turn up in well worn condition - however a collector should be easily able to find an example in at least fine condition so the lower grades have little value - only the 1933 and 1939 dates (same dates as for the halfpenny !) have a collector value below fine and this is because they are in demand to complete lower cost date runs - but this value is still only a couple of euros or so.
The note ( above ) about the grading of nickel threepences applies to the sixpences as well. Be careful with grading of 1935 sixpences.
Because nickel retains its original colour (or remains close to its original colour) in circulation it is very common to see the nickel sixpences significantly overgraded. You really have to look at the coins properly and be sure that the surface condition and the wear (if any) is correctly graded. Truly uncirculated nickel coins often have a light patination which is often has a slightly blue shade, this patination on the raised surfaces associated with a mint 'bloom' across the coin is a good sign - provided it hasn't been artificially added!
Mint bloom is the name numismatists call the slight frosting effect across the surface of good quality uncirculated coin - it is caused by the micro fractures on the die giving rise to microscopic raised areas on the coin - this effect disappears with very light circulation. However because it is caused by micro fracturing of the die it is usually not present on coins struck early in the die's life or on proof coins where the dies are regularly polished to remove it. Clearly 'early strikes' and proof coins are often more desirable than a nice 'normal' uncirculated coin - so absence of mint bloom (on a coin being offered as uncirculated) may be 'a very good thing' or 'a very bad thing' depending on why it is absent .
Very modern metal technology means that 'mint bloom' does not occur as early in a die's life as it used to. So very modern normal coins - for example minted after 1990 - are much more likely to look more like polished die specimens from the 1960s. To judge the grade of a coin of the types covered in this table you need to be looking at coins of this type - looking at lots of uncirculated 2007 coins will not help you learn to judge uncirculated 1928-1969 coins.
The CuNi sixpences from the mid 1940s and even up to the 1962 issue are surprisingly difficult to obtain in Uncirculated grades. However these coins are not scarce in lower grades. Be careful with grading these coins, look for good lustre, clean rims and examine the edges.
There are no easy grade points on Irish sixpences - overall appearance is the best guide.
Slight traces of wear on an almost uncirculated coin from the 1930-1937 period can be very difficult to detect if you haven't examined many of these coins. It makes a very big difference to the value of these coins.
Better quality uncirculated coins are extremely rare for the 1930-1937 dates - they are probably underpriced - but they really have to be quality pieces to make it into these grades and the rarity of even 'average' uncirculated pieces can lead a collector into being over enthusiastic about a piece when its offered.
My recommendation if you are planning to collect top grade Irish 'saorstat' silver is to buy some really nice 1928s and learn how the coins look in top grades - and look at more than you buy. An MS65 grade, for example, is not applied more generously just because the coin is rare.
1943 + For more
information on the 1943 rarities
As with the shillings the 1930-1937 dates are very hard to find in the better uncirculated grades. But 1935 and 1937 florins are not quite as scarce as the earlier dates in top grades.
Be particularly careful with 1937 florins - the scarcity of the 1937 shilling and 1937 halfcrown can colour your opinion and the mintage is as low as 1934 florin, but the coin is simply not as scarce in uncirculated grades as any of these three apparently comparable coins. It is still not an easy coin to find but any long time collector of the series will confirm that they do turn up in nicer condition much more often than the '37 shilling or halfcrown.
The 1961 variety is not particularly difficult to find, but examples in extremely fine or better condition are very scarce. The variety was spotted by Derek Young (Editor of Irish Numismatics) in 1967 and at the time he estimated that there had been about 50,000 struck - see Identifying a 1961 Mule halfcrown.
The 1937 halfcrown is probably rarer than the 1943 halfcrown in uncirculated grades. However it is not as scarce in lower grades and it doesn't have quite the 'cachet' of the 1943 which benefits from the rarity of the 1943 florin. So this is a bit of a dilema - long time collectors know that the coin is rarer, but the auction results don't reflect this. However there are a lot of very good collections which are harbouring 1937 halfcrowns which are only in 'nice' AU grade, while the '43 is clearly uncirculated. I'm not sure that this will change - the availability of lower grade '37s and the poorer metal flow on the 37 dies which lead to weakness in the upper harp region work work against the true scarcity of the really choice pieces being recognised. While the '43 will always been linked with the florin, and the better design leads to easier appreciation of the quality of a choice piece.
There is probably a good reason why the 1934 halfcrown appears easier to find in EF-UNC grades, easier than its slightly higher mintage would suggest. However I have never heard an explanation. But it is just as difficult to find as the 1930-1933 dates in really choice condition, but the price in top grades is depressed a bit because of the availability of the better but not choice pieces.
The proof coins should be in a green case with a black velvet bed and a white satin inner lining to the lid.
Beware of normal circulation strikes in 'Irish' boxes. The repackaging of the 1990 proof coin from the original boxes into the card frame has led to these surplus 1990 pound coin boxes being used for a variety of other coins - which is fine so long as the seller doesn't try sell it as an original Pearse 1966 box - and so long as the buyer doesn't think he's getting a bargain and ends up with a normal Pearse when he was thinking he was buying a proof at a good price. The 1990 proof pound box has a cream coloured bed and is a lighter colour than the original 1966 box. The 'hole' in the bed of the 1990 box is larger as the Pearse proofs were placed directly in the bed in their original box while the 1990 pound was in a capsule so the hole was larger to accommodate the capsule.
These coins are widely available in grades close to uncirculated - they are also sought by collectors interested in Irish Republicanism, the 1916 rising etc. These collectors don't seem to worry too much about grades (so long as a coin looks nice !) - so be careful not to get into a bidding war on a less good piece and believe that "because somebody else is biding it must be worth it". I have seen bidding wars run up to 140 Euros on circulated examples,. Coin collectors should be able to hold out for better quality examples with good clean surfaces and sharp rims.
Many of these coins (possibly 1,250,000) were melted by the Central Bank around decimalisation in 1971 and many more were melted privately when the price of silver was very high in 1980/81. However these coins are still common. As a nice uncirculated example is very cheap it is strongly recommended that collectors wait to find a really nice example with sharp rims and minimum bag marks. Hmmm I've written this twice ..... it must be true !
Sets exist of Irish pre-decimal modern coins. The sets listed below were issued by the Central Bank (or the Currency Commission before 1942) although some of the issue details are not clear.
I am not including many of the numerous sets of circulated and uncirculated coins which were assembled privately (and in some cases still are being assembled) to meet collector demand. In general sets not listed below are worth the sum of the value of the coins they contain.
There are only thee years when all 8 coins in the series were struck:
1928, 1940 and 1966. These three years alone would also include all the coin types and metals in the series.
Unfortunately these three years are not good ones to start an uncirculated collection around because the 1940 penny is particularly difficult to find in uncirculated condition and the 1940 halfpenny is not particularly easy to obtain.
The commemorative ten shillings was struck in 1966 making that year set a 9 coin set.
Most Irish sets of this period appear to have no records to indicate the issue figures.
The 1928 proof set also occurs in a silver box - I believe that these were presented to the members of the committee which managed the design of the currency. However I am not yet clear whether the silver boxes were officially produced or whether they were prepared after the event by one of the committee members for his colleagues. I have not heard of one of these 'silver' boxes selling. One is on display in the National Museum of Ireland. It is in the Irish silverware section rather than the coin section.
The proof sets for 1928 have a recorded mintage of 6,001 sets - the constituent coins are very occasionally offered singly - so presumably all 6,001 of each coin were originally placed in the sets. Many of the 1928 sets were used as diplomatic gifts in Irish embassies around the world. Supplied lasted until about 1960 and it was the end of this supply that triggered the unusual act of producing restrikes of the 1928 proof in 1960/61 which lead to the very rare restrike set and also indirectly to the 1961 mule halfcrown. Many of the 50 (or possibly 100) sets produced don't appear to have been issued and most may still be in the possession of the Central Bank.