Author Topic: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland  (Read 1288 times)

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Offline <k>

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Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« on: August 15, 2018, 06:56:55 PM »
This topic is part of a series about the decimal coins of the sterling area. To see the other topics in the series, click on the link below:

The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area



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Offline <k>

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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2018, 07:00:57 PM »

Obverse designs of the predecimal Irish coinage.



Ireland achieved limited independence from the UK in 1922. While Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK, the Irish Free State became a dominion of the British Empire, with George V as King of Ireland. 

In 1928 the Free State introduced its first independent modern currency, the Irish pound (known in Irish as the punt), which was pegged to the UK pound sterling at a rate of one to one. The ground-breaking new coinage, popularly known as the Barnyard Series, was designed by Percy Metcalfe, an engraver at the Royal Mint. In 1937 Ireland was granted a new constitution as a sovereign state, called simply Ireland, though still within the British Commonwealth.  In 1939 it released a new obverse design for its coins, whose legend reflected the change in ithe country's name. Ireland declared itself a republic in 1949 and left the British Commonwealth.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2018, 07:07:48 PM »

The reverse designs of Ireland's first 5 pence and 10 pence coins.



In the 1960s the UK decided to prepare for the decimalisation of its currency, and Ireland, whose pound was still pegged to the pound sterling, decided to decimalise in concert with the UK. Both the UK and Ireland took measures, prior to decimalisation, to acquaint their populations gradually with the decimal system.

To this end, the UK introduced circulating five pence and ten pence coins in 1968, which were equivalent in value to the shilling and two shillings coins respectively, and they also had the same shape, weight and dimensions as their predecimal counterparts. Ireland introduced decimal 5 and 10 pence coins in 1969, followed by 50 pence coins in 1970.

Both Ireland and the UK demonetised their predecimal halfpenny coins in 1969. Ireland demonetised both coins on the last day of 1969. On 8th September 1969 Ireland issued its own decimal five pence and ten pence coins. Whilst the UK 5p and 10p coins referred to “NEW PENCE” in their legends, the Irish versions simply carried the denominations in figures: “5P” and “10P”.  Ireland had decided to reuse some of the famous and much-loved barnyard designs on its decimal series, so the bull design from the shilling was transferred to its 5p counterpart, whilst Metcalfe’s salmon from the two shillings was reused on the 10p. The familiar Irish harp graced the obverse of the new coins.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2018, 07:13:40 PM »



The one major difference between the new Irish decimal coins and their predecimal counterparts was the absence of beads (or pearls, as the Continental Europeans sometimes call them) on the decimal coins. As in the UK, the shilling and two shillings coins continued to serve as 5p and 10p substitutes in Ireland, long after decimalisation. However, the Irish demonetised their sixpence on January 1 1972, along with their predecimal pennies, threepences and sixpences. The UK, though, retained its sixpence until 30 June 1980.

 
« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 07:29:02 PM by <k> »
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2018, 07:17:41 PM »

The Irish 50 pence coin. 

Image courtesy of COINZ.eu.



The UK issued a decimal fifty pence coin in 1969, and Ireland followed suit on 17th February 1970. The Irish coin shared the specifications of the UK version, being an equilateral curve heptagon. Metcalfe’s woodcock design, which had last appeared on the Irish farthing (demonetised on 1st January 1962) provided the reverse design of the Irish 50p, thus moving from the lowest denomination to the highest.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2018, 07:22:14 PM »
On the 15th February 1971, Ireland officially went decimal, simultaneously with the UK, and the three remaining coins of the decimal series entered circulation. The Irish public were already acquainted with the decimal halfpenny, penny and two pence coins, because they had seen them in the decimal sets that went on sale in Irish post offices in 1969 and 1970, though all the bronze coins were post-dated to 1971. These sets had been intended to educate the Irish public about decimalisation, and similar ones containing the UK decimal coins had gone on sale in the UK from 1968.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2018, 07:28:06 PM »

The reverse design of the Irish decimal half penny.



The Irish authorities had initially intended that all the reverses of their decimal coins should carry designs by Percy Metcalfe, taken from the old predecimal series. However, Charles Haughey, the Irish prime minister (Taoiseach) at the time, said,'None of the decimal “coppers” will correspond in size and value with any present coin, so there would have been a risk of confusion of values if existing designs had been used. The new designs came almost by accident. Official thinking had been to put simply a figure denoting the value on the reverse of the “coppers”. Then Miss Hayes volunteered a design, it was liked and she was commissioned to produce three.'

An Irish woman named Gabriel Hayes, an artist, had sent in some of her suggested designs for the new coins to the authorities, even though, unlike in the UK, no open public design competition - or indeed any competition - had been announced. They were based upon manuscript designs of ornamental birds in Celtic knotwork style. The Irish half penny design was adapted from manuscript MS.213 in the Cologne Cathedral Library, Germany.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2018, 07:32:08 PM »

The Irish decimal penny.



The reverse design of the Irish decimal penny was adapted from the Book of Kells held in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2018, 07:34:08 PM »

The reverse design of the Irish decimal two pence coin.



The reverse design of the two pence was adapted from the Second Bible of Charles the Bald, which is held at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2018, 07:50:47 PM »
There was, however, a stylistic split in the design of the new coin series: Miss Hayes' designs occupied the bronze coins, whilst the higher denominations used the old Metcalfe designs. Some of the Irish were not happy about this decision. Senator Professor John Kelly, of the then opposition Fine Gael party, had even launched a parliamentary motion against the adoption of the new designs: Coinage (Dimensions and Designs) Regulations, 1969: Motion for Annulment. The ensuing parliamentary debate took place on May 27 1970, with only nine months remaining before decimalisation. However, the government won the debate, and the new designs had been issued as planned.

See the topic Ireland's hybrid decimal design series for more details.

You can also see some of the alternative designs that had been considered in this topic: Ireland: decimal variations.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2018, 08:03:03 PM »
The Irish authorities considered that retaining Metcalfe designs for the decimal halfpenny, penny and two pence coins would have confused the public, since those coins had no predecimal equivalent. However, over in Africa, this had not worried the Gambians during their own decimal transition. The Gambians retained all the old designs from their predecimal series, even though some of their decimal coins did not have any predecimal equivalents in value. This apparently did not cause confusion in the Gambia, since only those predecimal and decimal coins that matched each other in shape, size and metal were of equivalent value - an easy lesson to learn. The Irish could likewise have issued a fully "Metcalfian" decimal set, without causing confusion. However, it was not to be.

See:

1] Gambia's predecimal to decimal design transition

2] The pound: predecimal to decimal design continuity
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2018, 08:09:44 PM »
The new decimal coins and the remaining predecimal coins (the penny, threepence and sixpence) co-circulated on the 15th, 16th and 17th February 1971, after which the predecimal coins were  taken out of circulation. The predecimal penny, threepence and sixpence could however still be exchanged at banks for decimal coins until the 1st January 1972. The shilling and florin, however, continued to circulate as the equivalent of five and ten pence coins.

The Irish decimal coins now matched their UK decimal counterparts exactly in size, shape, weight and metal content. This had not been entirely true of the predecimal series: from the start, the Irish threepence had been small, thick and round, originally in nickel though latterly in copper-nickel, whilst the UK threepence evolved from a small thin round silver coin to a thick twelve-sided nickel-brass one. The Irish sixpence had had a diameter of 21mm and a weight of 4.54g, compared to the 19.41mm and 2.83g of the UK sixpence.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2018, 08:12:01 PM »
In 1978 Ireland joined the European Monetary System (EMS), which was designed to limit fluctuations between the currencies of the members of the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union. In March 1979 the European Community created the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), in order to reduce exchange rate variability in Europe.

By 30th March 1979 the parity link between the UK pound and the Irish pound was broken and an exchange rate was introduced. Because the UK had decided not to join the EMS, the punt was now an entirely separate currency from sterling, no longer linked in any way to the so called "sterling area".

At first, and throughout most of the 1980s, the punt tended to depreciate against sterling. Mrs Thatcher came to power in the UK in 1979, and her policies at first led to high interest rates. These, coupled with the income from the UK's North Sea oil, tended to boost sterling. Ireland, meanwhile, had been carrying out its own restructuring of its economy throughout the 1980s, and in the 1990s its booming economy became known as "the Celtic Tiger". Ireland's success was due to three factors: its economic restructuring, perhaps influenced in part by watching the UK under Thatcherism and other similar liberalisation throughout the Western world; large subsidies from the EU; and the motivation of its own highly educated and highly skilled workers, who until then knew they would most likely have to leave Ireland's shores to find work.

Since the Irish pound and sterling were now separate currencies, there was no longer any need for Ireland to follow the UK's changes to its coinage. This development also meant that those places in Northern Ireland and the republic where the two currencies had formerly co-circulated would now become mono-currency areas, since the Irish pound and the UK pound were no longer equal in value. On the Isle of Man, where formerly three coinages had openly co-circulated (the Manx, Irish and British), this change also had its effect.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2018, 08:15:56 PM »
The UK stopped including the word "NEW" (as in new penny / new pence) on its coin in 1982.

See: The "Illegal" 50p and the Death of "NEW PENCE".



Ireland’s decimal coins simply used ‘p’ as an abbreviation for ‘pence’, in contrast to the ‘d’ and ‘s’ (for pence and shillings) on predecimal coins.

Nonetheless Ireland’s Statutory Instrument No. 387 of 1985 legislated ‘new pence’ out of existence: “The 2nd day of December 1985, is hereby appointed as the day on and after which, pursuant to section 2 (3) of the Decimal currency Act, 1969 (No. 23 of 1969), the new penny shall be known as the penny.”
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of Ireland
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2018, 08:22:07 PM »

The Irish 20 pence coin.

Image courtesy of COINZ.eu



The UK introduced a twenty pence coin in 1982 and a pound coin in 1983: two new circulating denominations. At first I wondered if Ireland would follow or suit or not, and if so, in what fashion, since Ireland was no longer bound to mirror the UK's changes to its change. Perhaps it would introduce a 25 pence coin?

The UK demonetised its decimal halfpenny at the end of 1984; Ireland demonetised its own version on the 1st January 1985. The two countries were once more, if briefly, acting in sync.

A year and several months later, on the 30th October 1986, Ireland introduced its first new decimal denomination. Unlike the innovative UK twenty pence, which was cupro-nickel, seven-sided and with a countersunk surface, the Irish twenty pence was round and made of nickel-brass. The new Irish coin was 27.1mm in diameter and weighed 8.47 grams: holding one in my hand, I felt that it was too close in size to the two pence coin, which was 25.9mm in diameter and weighed 7.12 grams. Both the 2p and the 20p had a thickness of 2mm, but while the edge of 2p was smooth, the edge of the 20p alternated between smooth and milled sections. Metcalfe's horse design, last seen on the predecimal half-crown, was resurrected for use on the reverse of the 20p coin, and the new coin looked very attractive to my eyes.
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