Readers of a certain vintage may recall the fuss about the Irish 1943 half-crown coin which is now one of Ireland’s rarest and most collectible coins. The reason why they are so rare is intriguing.
According to coins auctioneer John Weldon, "the 1943 half-crowns were struck in normal circulating quantities but not issued. In the early 1950s the unissued coins were remitted back to the Royal Mint for melting, as the Central Bank of Ireland had decided to change the metal from the .750 silver standard to Cupronickel.
“At some stage, a small number escaped into circulation. Reports vary, suggesting that as many as 3,000 or as few as 1,500 of them escaped into circulation and fine examples like this are highly prized by collectors.”
The sale of coins at
John Weldon Auctioneers
in Temple Bar, Dublin on Tuesday (September 8th) at 2pm includes “a rare Irish 1943 half-crown” estimated at €1,000- €2,000” and “another 1943 Irish half-crown (in less good condition) estimated at €500-€1,000.
Mr Weldon is also offering a piece of silver Ormonde Money – an “Ormond crown, 1642-1649 (29.2 grams)” with an estimate of €500-€800.
Ormonde Money was issued in Ireland in the 1640s by the Duke of Ormonde, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as an emergency currency during the Great Rebellion.
A gold coin from this era is the star lot in a London auction the following week (on Tuesday, September 15th) when auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins and medals specialists, will offer an extremely rare Irish Ormonde Money gold pistole expected to fetch up to £100,000 (about €137,000).
The gold pistole is one of only 11 known to have survived, of which nine are already in museums or public collections. They are Ireland’s only gold coinage.
“This is one of the great rarities of Irish coinage which also recalls a turbulent time in the country’s history when the authorities found themselves short of currency and had to resort to unorthodox methods to find a solution,” said Will Bennett, spokesman for Dix Noonan Webb.
He said the Ormonde Money coins (both gold and silver) were used to pay the Royalist garrison of Dublin by Ormonde, who was Charles I’s representative in Ireland.
They were minted in the 1640s using foreign currency, bullion and even rings and chains which were melted down.
The coin is part of a collection being sold by Theo Bullmore, a British chartered accountant formerly of KPMG and a well-known collector.