Ireland: decimal variations

Started by <k>, November 23, 2011, 03:31:37 PM

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<k>

According to the Royal Mint documents, Christopher Ironside was assigned to model Ireland's decimal coinage. Originally all the reverse designs were going to be transferred, with amendments by Mr Ironside, from Percy Metcalfe's orginal barnyard series. However, as we now know, the reverse designs of the bronze coins (½p, 1p and 2p) were provided by Irish artist Gabriel Hayes.

The documents included some rudimentary alternative sketches for the lower denominations but does not state whose idea they were. I am glad they were not accepted, as shamrocks always seem to go with leprechauns and other forms of cod Irishry.
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<k>

#1
Ireland 2p alt-sketch.jpg


Percy Metcalfe's designs were originally scheduled to appear on the reverse of the ½p. 1p and 2p coins.

Before Gabriel Hayes intervened with her designs, which spoilt the artistic unity of the set,


Here we can see that the woodcock was originally considered for the reverse of the 2 pence coin.

It was taken from the reverse of the old Irish farthing,

That would have been preferable to the over-elaborate design provided by Mrs Hayes.
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<k>

#2
Ireland 5p alt-sketch.jpg


Here is one of Mr Ironside's preliminary sketches for the 5 pence reverse.

He intended to use Percy Metcalfe's bull.


Here he was experimenting with placing it on a patch of grass.

On Metcalfe's shilling, the bull simply stands on a plinth.

That is how it was eventually presented on the issued 5 pence coin.
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<k>

#3
Ireland 50p alt-sketch3, obv.jpg


Ireland 50p alt-sketch2.jpg


It was originally intended to place Metcalfe's horse on the 50 pence coin.

It would have looked better there than the woodcock that was eventually featured there.


Here the Royal Mint experimented with turning the fifty pence upside down, so to speak.

That is similar to the way the design is portrayed on the UK circulation 50 pence since 2008.


In the end, the horse was not included in the original decimal series.

It eventually appeared on the reverse of the Irish twenty pence coin when it was introduced in 1986.
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<k>

#4
Ireland 50p alt-sketch.jpg


Ireland decimal-CI signature.jpg


The Irish government eventually decided, in consultation with the Royal Mint, that it would prefer to see the woodcock, from Metcalfe's farthing design, placed on the fifty pence. However, the Irish felt, when they saw the result, that too much of the surface of the fifty pence was left bare. The Royal Mint asked Christopher Ironside to come up with some ideas, so he added an ornamental border to the edge of the design and placed his signature beneath his original sketch.

The Irish decided that they did not like the ornamental border, nor were they particularly happy with the design as it stood, but they recognised that time was running short, so they did not request any further amendments. The Royal Mint documents record that the woodcock was shifted slightly to the left, compared with its position on the original farthing design.





Ireland, 50 pence, 1970.  Woodcock.
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<k>

#5
Click on the links below for further reading on subjects related to this topic:

1] Ireland's hybrid decimal design series

2] Percy Metcalfe, Coin Designer

3] Christopher Ironside designed coins for many countries

 
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See: The Royal Mint Museum.

FosseWay

I've never consciously noticed this before, but for some reason seeing unrealised designs turned a light bulb on in my head. Irish decimal coins were denominated in 'p', with predecimal coins having 'd' and the full value spelt out in words in Irish. Irish stamps, on the other hand, followed a different and potentially confusing paradigm. Predecimal stamps with values of less than a shilling (i.e. most of them) were denominated in 'p', not 'd' as in the UK or on Irish coins. After decimalisation, An Post dealt with this by omitting any denomination -- Irish decimal stamps below £1 had just a numeral. Then with the euro, they had 'c' for values below €1.

<k>

Presumably the "p" was for "pingin", the Irish Gaelic for penny.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.