Author Topic: The coinage of the Irish Free State  (Read 4395 times)

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Offline <k>

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2015, 01:34:59 PM »

Jerome Connor

Jerome Connor (1874-1943) was an Irish sculptor. He lived and worked in the USA for some years.





Connor's designs for the competition.





The remainder of his designs.

Offline <k>

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2015, 01:35:27 PM »

Percy Metcalfe

Percy Metcalfe (1895-1970) was an English artist sculptor and designer. He was known to the committee because of his numismatic portrait of King Faud of Egypt and King Faisal of Iraq.





Some of Metcalfe's original designs.





More of Metcalfe's designs.





Metcalfe's alternative half penny design features a ram.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2015, 01:35:55 PM »

Albert Power

Albert Power (1881-1945) was an Irish sculptor.





Albert Power's designs for the competition.

Offline <k>

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2015, 01:36:22 PM »
In February 1927, the time came to judge the designs. William Yeats later wrote:

We refused to see the designs until we saw them all together. The name of each artist, if the model had been signed, was covered with stamp paper. We had expected to recognise the work of the different artists by its style, but we recognised only the powerful handling of Milles. One set of designs seemed far to exceed the others as decorations filling each its circular space, and this set, the work of Percy Metcalfe, had so marked a style and was so excellent throughout, that it seemed undesirable to mix its designs with those of any other artist. Though we voted coin by coin, I think we were all convinced of this. I was distressed by my conviction. I had been certain that we could mix the work of three or four different artists, and that this would make our coinage more interesting.

Metcalfe was invited to Dublin to revise some of his designs in consultation with the Department of Agriculture. The Englishman's designs for Ireland were minted at the Royal Mint, which was still located in London in those days. The trial pieces were presented to the committee for inspection, who then asked the Minister of Finance for his approval.

Yeats commented:

The coins have suffered less than we feared. The horse, as first drawn, was more alive than the later version. The first bull had to go, though one of the finest of all the designs, because it might have upset, considered as an ideal, the eugenics of the farmyard. I sigh, however, over the pig, though I admit that the state of the market for pig's cheeks made the old design impossible.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2015, 01:36:39 PM »


Some of Metcalfe's finished designs.

Offline <k>

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2015, 01:37:02 PM »


Obverse of the 1928 penny.



The new coinage was issued in December 1928. Though the Irish Free State was a dominion of the British Empire until December 1937, when it was replaced by the Republic of Ireland, the obverse did not portray the monarch. George V was no longer "King of Ireland" but was instead styled "King in Ireland"; his kingship of Ireland was now legally separate from his kingship of the United Kingdom, but the monarch was still not portrayed on the Irish coinage. This was not a unique situation: at that time, the obverse of the coins of Guernsey (a British crown dependency) did not depict the monarch - until 1985 it featured only the Guernsey coat of arms.

Though the Irish coinage was mostly still related to the pound sterling in terms of size and shape and denominations, one look at it showed immediately that this was no imitation of Britain's coinage. The lack of a monarch, the harp, the animal designs instead of heraldry, and the Irish words in a highly stylised font, gave the coins a most distinctive appearance.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2015, 01:37:25 PM »


The farthing featured a woodcock, one of Ireland's game birds.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2015, 01:37:46 PM »


This superb design of a mother sow and her piglets graced the reverse of the halfpenny.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2015, 01:38:07 PM »


Staying with the theme of "mother and children", a mother hen and her chicks appeared on the penny. Stylistically this design seems rather different from the others, as the birds have the appearance of a set of metal toys.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2015, 01:38:32 PM »


The sturdy nickel three pence, featuring a hare, was distinctly thicker and slightly larger in diameter than the thin silver British three pence coin of the time. It was also significantly heavier. The British coin was unpopular because it was easily lost, and the Irish authorities had taken account of this when deciding on the specifications of its Irish counterpart.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2015, 01:38:55 PM »


The sixpence depicts the Irish wolfhound. A fine design in itself, it does not depict the breed's thick coat of fur. The coin was in nickel, unlike its silver British counterpart. At 21mm, it was also larger in diameter than its British cousin by roughly 1.6mm - a noticeable difference in such small coins.

The harp on the obverse of this 1955 coin shows the new legend adopted from 1938 onwards, when the Free State became a republic.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2015, 01:39:18 PM »


A bull appeared on the reverse of the Irish shilling.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2015, 01:39:38 PM »


A salmon graced the reverse of the florin.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2015, 01:40:04 PM »


The half crown, the highest denomination, featured an Irish hunter horse.

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Re: The coinage of the Irish Free State
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2015, 01:40:34 PM »
A journalist with the Manchester Guardian, an English newspaper, had high praise for the new coinage at the time of its issue:

"I think that the Irish coinage will be acknowledged as the most beautiful in the modern world. I doubt if any country but Ireland would have had the imagination and freedom to lay down the conditions that would have made such designs possible."

The set was considered ground-breaking in the arena of modern coin design. Prior to the First World War, most coin design was dominated by heraldry and by old-fashioned wreaths, which were well suited to the empires that were still in business at the time. No modern country had produced a set of coins with a different animal design on each reverse before the issue of the Irish barnyard set, as it is now commonly known. It probably influenced the British decision to issue a farthing coin portraying a wren in 1937, but apart from that and one or two other attempts at modernism (the thrift plant on the three pence and the ship on the half penny), Britain stuck rigidly to the heraldic model, and it has continued to do so right up to the present day.

However, the barnyard set clearly influenced the coin designs that the Royal Mint and the British Empire and Commonwealth produced for its overseas colonies, territories and dominions. In the 1930s animal designs appeared on some, but not all, of the coins of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mauritius, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. To this day you can see the influence of what I term "British overseas design style" on the coins of sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and the Caribbean.