Long Beard's Blog

23 Dec 2021

A Very Large Cent

Coins-World | Long Beard

Before tackling the blog of the week, it is only appropriate to wish all a heart felt Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And now, on to the subject. The title was thought out with two purposes in mind. The first, discussion of a copper (actually bronze by composition) business struck coin series which is larger than the U.S. Large cents long obsolete and just shy of the Kennedy half dollar in diameter. The second, to draw attention to the word CENT and PENNY. In Great Britain, and Ireland for which country the topic originates, the latter is the name for it's denomination. Anyhow, the Ireland Penny minted for the Irish Free State, the 26 counties which seceded from Great Britain in 1916, beginning in 1928 and ending in 1968 is the week's blog. Enjoy!

At 30.9 mm, weighing 9.45 grams, these rather sizable coins consist of 95 % copper, 3 % tin and 1.5 % zinc. Much as with the United States, establishing a functioning government takes both time and precedence where independence from a former is concerned. It would take ten years before passage of the 1926 Coin Law (the equivalent of U.S. coin acts) to begin laying out a coin and currency system of the Irish Free State. William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, author and Senator of the new Irish government empowered by the Minister of Finance to make and issue coin of silver, nickel and copper. As the head of the committee, he strongly recommended a series of designs featuring animals native to Ireland as it was largely an agricultural economy. The Finance Ministry deemed it more feasible and cost effective to continue minting coin through the Royal London Mint rather than create and construct one of their own, and thus pegged the new currencies to the British Sterling Pound. The penny, held a value of 1/240 of a pound, or 1/12 of shilling. By comparison, the U.S. cent is 1/100 of a dollar. Which is odd considering how the U.S. system breaks down by 10's (the quarter being the exception) , the metric system used in Europe. While the government tackled the specifics, WB Yeats established a competition for artist, sculptors or common citizen. Oddly, the winner was an Englishman and sculptor/designer by the name of Percy Metcalfe who had been previously retained for the Royal London Mint to create other coins. All eight of the new coins would bear a different animal on each denomination from ideas found in the Book of Kell. For the Penny, that was to be a hen and five chicks. The obverse, also from and by Metcalfe, is a representation of the Irish Harp found in Trinity College, Dublin. The idea, however, was written into the law requiring it's use as it had been the symbol of Irish heraldry dating to the 500's A.D.. The coinage of the Ireland Republic, as it was later called, saw a design change in 1939. Sticking with the subject coin, the first consisted of an obverse harp with Saorstat Eireann (Irish Free State) in Gaelic to the sides and the date split left/right on a horizontal central plane. In 1939, Eire was added to the left of the harp, the date to the right. Aside from a few refinements of the design, the reverse went largely unchanged.

The Lucky Penny. A term which most, including non-collectors, have heard. If you found a penny lying on the ground, would you pick it up? While the question is easily answered as most people would think it hardly worth the effortof stooping downfor a measly coin, this is centralto themeaning of the phrase "Lucky Penny". Centuries old Irish lore holds that pennies, once worth far than in recent years, belonged to the "good people" and were left there, on the ground, to tempt the finder with good fortune. "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck. Give it to a faithful friend and your luck will never end.". While this old traditional poem seem a touch of superstition, there's another legend which lends definite truth to the Lucky Penny story. As previously mentioned, Ireland was largely an agricultural country and a penny held tremendous buying power. It was common practice, particularly at markets and fairs, for the seller of an animal or grain to return a penny to the buyer as a token of luck or good fortune for the purchase. Often times the pair would agree to meet later on at the local pub where the lucky penny would be used to buy the first round and thereby seal the deal. Finally, there's a third part to this mysterious legend. One which the authors ancestors most likely held to. Before leaving Ireland for America, it was a popular belief to give the departing a penny for their pockets, with the blessing "May your pockets never be empty.".

While the overall design might not be all that appealing to most, these- along the farthing and half-penny- seem to have a very unique way of aging. Meaning that the manner it which they "tone" is far different than any U.S. copper coin. Photographing these is extremely difficult to show their true brilliance, the images of mine in particular are a deep red/orange. Very close to in hand clarity despite playing with lighting and white balance.



Level 4

Beautiful coin, well shined.


Level 4

what is that weird font

Long Beard

Level 5

Ancient Gaelic, the original language of Ireland.


Level 6

Beautiful coin! Really enjoyed the information! ; )


Level 6

Interesting coin. Nice blog


Level 6

Beautiful coin. A fantastic read. Thanks for this blog!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thank you for another informative blog!

Nice blog!


Level 5

Love big copper coins and especially the penny. Would definitely pick up a penny. I pick up penny's when I see them.


Level 7

I my friend coming from that beautiful country also have that beautiful coin. Thank you for the blog. It brought back some memories.

AC coin$

Level 6

Woooow ! Beautiful coin great blog interesting . Thanks for sharing .

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