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Lucien LaRiviere Sale at Spink

2006 Irish International Coin Fair

1938 : New date for Irish Halfcrown



1938 : New date for Irish Halfcrown

© 2006 - Copyright
Version 1.13b
29 May, 2006


Lucien LaRiviere Sale at Spink

The Spink sale of the Lucien LaRiviere collection of Irish coins took place in London on the 22nd of February.

It was a really rather nice collection with many rarities.  In fact it was probably richer in rarities as a proportion of the total number of pieces than any other collection I have seen.  

In general I thought that the prices were very strong.  Especially for the rarer better condition pieces.  The estimates were for the most part quite low, and a few were quite clearly just wrong (such as those for the St Patrick's halfpence).  

There were only a few lots unsold - the ringmoney with only vague provenances such as 'said to have been found in ...' were clearly undesirable at the reserves set.  And a few pieces later in the sale (for example, a quite ordinary Charles II halfpenny) were clearly just reserved and estimated too high.

In general the nicer scarcer pieces, such as the silver Gunmoney proofs and the better 1640s pieces, sold for very strong prices.  And the better quality Hiberno-Norse and Anglo-Irish hammered pieces followed the same pattern.  

Some of the lower grade rarities did not sell as well and I think that there were a few bargains to be had amongst these lots. For example, one of the Henry VII portrait half groats was initially listed as unsold but then listed as sold, so presumably it was picked up just 'after the sale' at the reserve - which was pretty cheap.

Given the quality of the collection it would have been a safe assumption that where a rarity was only represented by a  lower grade example that this might be an indication that better pieces had not appeared on the market  (or very few had) during the period the collection was being formed.  So these pieces may have been worth 'collector' interest - - even where there was not 'investor' interest.

The collection had an unusual feature in that it was clearly formed with a view to having an example of the major types but with very little attention to varieties or issues within types.   For example there was only one Edward I penny of Dublin (listed as 1b - but actually a 1b/1c mule) but it was a really very nice example for the type.  

Another example, perhaps more interesting, was the Edward I halfpenny of Waterford, where again there was only one example, but in this case rather than being one of the relatively common early (1282-1283) pieces it was one of the quite rare later (1294-1295) pieces which are linked to the 'rose on breast' pennies and Cork halfpennies - and, I believe, a bargain as these pieces are really very rare (rarer than Cork halfpennies, for example) but less understood and 'obscured' by the common type Waterford pieces. 

All in all  a good sale - lots of very nice examples of very rare pieces, with prices to match for the investor, quite a few very nice examples of more common items for the lower budget collector/investor looking for quality and a few really interesting and very rare lower grade pieces which were an opportunity for the variety collector and student.

Finally it is probably necessary to mention the 1646 pistole - this piece which was ex the 'Millennial' collection (and only sold subsequent to that sale) was on offer again here and at estimates which would suggest a significant appreciation in value since 2000. It was apparently sold quite far below estimate and probably at the reserve.  The problem with this piece is that its rarity is 'in private hands'.  There are a number of pieces in accessible public collections and counting these it is not as rare as many of the other coins in the series.  And if the pattern is that the investor is looking for 'rarity and quality' then it must be said that this piece does show both weakness and quite a lot of circulation wear and at such a huge price it may simply not be a good investment.

Certainly the same money in 2000 spent on Gunmoney silver proofs, nicer 1640 silver (Dublin, Inchiquin etc.),  a few choice Anglo Irish hammered and some better Hiberno Norse would (based on this sale) have yielded a much better return than the pistole.  And I am of the opinion that this is still true.

Now if somebody would just find one in strong EF with a good strike we'd have a coin to set some serious records!

The catalogue and prices realised are available on-line at Spink (see archives to get at past sales) 

John Stafford-Langan


Irish International Coin Fair

The Irish International Coin Fair took place in Dublin on February 18th and 19th.

This fair followed the usual pattern in recent years - it wasn't as busy as one might have hoped, but the room was larger and the tables more spread out so it had an air of being even less busy than it was.

I wasn't aware of any particularly special 'discoveries' or spectacular items over the weekend - and I must admit I spent more of my time there chatting with people and casually browsing than getting into any serious negotiations.

There was a dearth of high quality Irish hammered material and it may be that the market has changed so much that this type of fair is no longer the place where this material is traded.  

John Stafford-Langan


1938 : New date for Irish Halfcrown

Second 1938 penny identified

On Monday 10th July, 2000, The Irish Department of Finance presented a trial striking of the modified dies for the Penny and the Halfcrown to the National Museum of Ireland.

These coins, dated 1938, were produced because the metal flow on these denominations between 1928 and 1937 was not particularly good leaving weak areas on the obverse harp.

Percy Metcalf, the designer of the 1928 coinage, used the opportunity of redesigning the obverse harp for all the coins to improve the reverses of these two denominations.

Collectors will be most familiar with this redesign because of the 1961 'mule' halcrown which uses the 1928-1937 reverse instead of the redesigned reverse.

The trial striking of the 1938 penny is previously known from a single example, but the halfcrown is not previously known - however followers of this site will be aware that I had speculated on its existance.

These two examples were the coins supplied by Metcalf to the Department of Finance in November 1938. Since then they had remained secure but unknown in the department's archives.

It is possible that another 1938 halfcrown, or further pennies, will turn up. The first penny (now one of two known) is in private hands.

Despite its uniquness and its not being on the market, I have given the halfcrown a catalog price. This is the price I expect an example would fetch if another became available and was offered publicly.

Related Links - on these pages :

Modern Irish Coinage (1928 to date) - designs

Catalog of Modern Irish Coin Prices 1928-1969 - 1938 penny

JSL - 12/July/2000