Text and legends on the Irish predecimal coinage

Started by <k>, July 29, 2021, 09:39:29 PM

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<k>

I have looked at many images of the Irish florin over the years. The florin is dually denominated as 2 shillings (2 s).

Only today did I notice the '2' is not parallel with the Irish word 'floirin'.

The '2' seems to want to follow the curve of the coin.

Meanwhile, the 's' after the '2' tilts away from the '2' at a different angle.

I wonder why this wasn't spotted and corrected.
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<k>

Here you see the obverse of an Irish penny. The text is in lower case but all the letters are separate.

Look again at the florin, above. Some of the letters are joined to one another.
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<k>



Look at the words 'leat pingin' on the halfpenny. 'Leat' means half, and its letters are all joined.
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<k>

Similarly, the letters of the word 'leat' are also joined on the half crown.

Some of the letters in 'coroin' are also joined.
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<k>



However, we see that on the 'leat reul', meaning 'half sixpence', the letters of the word 'leat' are NOT joined.

But the 'r' of 'reul' is joined to the 'e'.
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<k>

My question now is, why were these disparities not noticed and standardised?

Also, I have noticed for the first time that the letters 't' and 'c' on 'leat coroin' have a dot above them. This is evidently some kind of diacritic that presumably alters the value.

I hope that our forum member andyg will offer a prize of an Irish typewriter in his Christmas quiz this year, so that we can type these Irish words properly.  8)
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chrisild

Quote from: <k> on July 29, 2021, 09:49:49 PM
My question now is, why were these disparities not noticed and standardised?

Because variety is the spice of life. ;D  Ligatures are quite common in Irish when it is written using that "Gaelic type". Wikipedia also resorts to a simple description rather than explanation: "(...) some of the typefaces contain a number of ligatures used in earlier Gaelic typography and deriving from the manuscript tradition." Even these days, you see both kinds on Irish coinage.

As for the dot above, that is apparently limited to those "ornate" scripts. Same Wikipedia, different article: "The dot above the lenited letter is usually replaced by a following h in the standard Roman alphabet [for example, ċ in Gaelic type becomes ch in Roman type]."

Christian

<k>

And Martin Purdy of New Zealand tells me that 'leat' becomes 'leath'.

I'm still not pleased about the wonky '2 s', though.
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FosseWay

Christian has explained the dot - in uncial script you use a dot for the lenited forms where you use an h in the Latin script. In a way, it is similar to the situation in languages that can use either Latin or Cyrillic (Serbian, for example) where the same sound is represented by a full letter in its own right in one (ч) and a diacritically modified variant of another in the other (č).

As to the other oddities: I wonder whether the variations on how/whether the letters are linked is an intentional way of making the text resemble manuscript. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a printed form of uncial script was used in published books in Irish, but the principal historical legacy of the "traditional" script is in handwritten and illuminated documents like the Book of Kells. In such handwritten texts, a certain degree of variation between letters and combinations of letters would have been inevitable, but it was also I think sometimes the result of a conscious decision, perhaps to make use of spare space or to economise on space if it was limited.

I have no explanation for the leaning s on the florin, though. I was going to suggest that it might notionally be italic (as the characters £, s and d were frequently italicised in print, being abbreviations of Latin words), but the s and d on the half-crown appear straight, so that's clearly not relevant here.

Edit - I didn't see Christian's second comment before writing the above: we've come to much the same conclusions.