In the Pendant and Ring series, “World Coin Tour” we explore the artistry of each countries’ coinage. We cannot cover every country all at once, nor every coin, but one country at a time we can hop across the globe. Join us for our third installment of the “World Coin Tour,” today, and subscribe so you never miss a post!
Ireland has a short history of coins, beginning in 1787 with a half-penny. Since then, the Irish coins have changed with the passage of time, but have maintained the iconic Gaelic harp since adopting the pound system in 1928. Animals are featured on the reverse of Irish coins, and most of the animals represented are native to the Emerald Isle. Some, however, are only native to the islands imagination.
One Feoirling (Farthings) is a 1/4 penny. These coins were made from 1928 – 1966, out of bronze, and are 20.3mm across. They are are graced with a diving Woodcock, a bird that spends a great deal of time jumping about on the forest floor. It’s not an easy bird to spot because its plumage offers perfect camouflage.
Minted from 1928 – 1967, the half Pingin (half-penny) shows a sow and her litter. The pig was a mainstay of the Irish diet and so earned a spot on the coinage. This coin has a 25.5mm diameter and is made of bronze.
The pingin has a Hen and Chicks on it, is made of Bronze, and has a diameter between 30 and 31mm. The mint changed planchet sizes in 1938 for a better strike. The mint also made minor changes to the harp, the hen and chicks, and the alloy on which the designs were struck.
Our favorite Irish coin, the 3 pingin or half ruel, is equal to the one-quarter shilling. It was first minted in 1928 and has the beloved Irish hare on the reverse. This coin has “grown” over the years! It was originally 17.5mm across, then 17.6, then 17.7mm in diameter! Initially made of nickel, the last incarnation from 1942 – 1968 was made of copper-nickel.
From 1928 – 1969 the 6 pingin, or 1 ruel, was minted with a handsome Irish Wolfhound on the reverse. Like the 1/2 ruel, it was originally made of nickle and then copper-nickle from 1942 – 1969. Unlike the 1/2 ruel, the 1 ruel has maintained the same diameter of 20.8mm over the years.
Also in 1928, the London mint began producing 1 scilling (shilling). They have an Irish moiled bull on the reverse. The moiled is the last of the native breeds of Irish cattle. This coin was initially minted on a silver planchet but in 1941 the war effort demanded the silver so the coins were no longer minted. Then, in 1941 the 1 scilling was minted again, but this time the planchets were made of copper-nickel.
The 2 scilling, 1 Flóirin, was minted from 1928 to 1968. It too was initially silver and after the war is was copper-nickle. The post-war Florins are also a tenth of a millimeter larger than their pre-war predecessors! The Salmon on the coin was once an abundant source of food for the local population. Some Salmon still run up the rivers just North of Galway, although their numbers are nothing like they used to be!
The last coin of this Irish Animal tour is the 1/2 Coroin, equal to 2 scillings and 6 pingins. The 1/2 Coroin has the sturdy and feisty Irish Hunter Horse on the reverse. This breed was developed by crossing the hard-working Irish draught horse with the agile English thoroughbred. The coin was minted from 1928 – 1967, initially in silver, and then in copper-nickel.
Here ends this edition of the Pendant and Ring World Coin Tour! There are many more Irish coins to cover, so we will circle around to Ireland again in the future.
Thank you for joining us today and May the Luck of the Irish Bless You!