Discussion in 'World Coins' started by TheFinn, Oct 19, 2019.
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Thanks to a mismanaged bimetallic system, silver coins were undervalued at the time compared to their metal content, and they disappeared from circulation. Copper coinage had to fill up some of the gap, especially after the French Revolution let to the suspension of gold convertibility. Existing coppers were so worn that counterfeiters could pass very underweight coinage for a profit, and good coins were in such short supply people pretty much just had to accept fakes at par.
Although there is no mention of non-regal pieces, here are a few excerpts from my Irish copper custom set:
"Before 1680, the majority of coins circulating in Ireland were foreign with a notable amount of English and Spanish pieces passing as legal tender. Most of this foreign currency alongside what little truly Irish coinage remained was either silver or gold. Little to no legal tender copper coinage circulated in Ireland. Numerous tokens, such as those commonly dubbed the St. Patrick’s issues, and counterfeits circulated freely in commerce simply because no other alternative was available. Conducting business required coin and business could not stop simply because regal coinage was non-existent. Despite several contracts to strike coinage, Ireland’s shortage of lower denomination coins (mainly copper) would go mostly unresolved until 1769. Throughout these times workers were often paid with private tokens or IOUs that could be collected only once enough money had been earned to merit a gold coin. The employee would then have to find change for this gold piece on their own to be able to purchase any goods or services. The title of this registry set reflects the struggles of the average Irishman in a historical context that was plagued by such a shortage of the very coins contained within this collection."
"George III succeeded George II on October 25th, 1760 and would not issue coins with his portrait for Ireland until 1769. This first contract was for 50 tons of halfpence. These coins were slightly heavier than those struck under George II at 134 as opposed to the 126 grains. This would yield somewhere around 5,850,746 halfpence. Another contract was secured in 1769 for an additional 50 tons of halfpence of the same weight. This would have yielded an additional 5,850,746 halfpence dated 1769. Although I was unable to locate dates or the total weight of these contracts, it appears another occurred which resulted in halfpence being struck 1775-76 and again in 1781-82. All of the coins discussed thus far were struck at the Tower of London: however, those dated 1766 and 1769 portray a younger bust of George III than those dated 1775 and later. It should be noted that counterfeits of these coins ran rampant partially due to the extreme shortage of copper currency that led up until the early 1800s. The unification of Ireland and Great Britain on January 1st, 1801 did little to help the coinage shortage in Ireland. It would not be until 1805 before another batch of Irish copper would be struck, this time by the Soho Mint."
@Coinsandmedals: Thank you for a great write-up. I too collect old Irish coins. I wonder if the silver 1804 George III Six Shillings (Sp#6615) was debased as were past Irish coins. I do know that this coin was previously a Spanish 8 Reale piece. Any thoughts/
Thank you. I hope you enjoyed it. A good deal of editing still needs to be done, but that is a project for another day. This is a good question, and off of the top my head, I think the answer would be yes. The Soho Mint struck similar coins for both England and Ireland in 1804. Both weighed the same and contained roughly the same silver content; however, the English pieces were valued at 5 shillings, and the Irish pieces were worth six shillings. This logic may seem counterintuitive, but the purchasing power of an Irish shilling was not the same as an English shilling. It would take six Irish shillings to purchase the same items that could be done so for five English shillings. This conclusion may be incorrect, but without my books, this is my best guess.
@Coinsandmedals: Thank you. I am wondering if the Carlos IV 8 Reales re-minted in the English Soho Mint was debased or if the Bank of England ruled that Irish currency was just less than England's. Both seem to have the same weight, but let me know, please.
It seems as though I read somewhere (maybe Dotty's work on the Soho Mint) that the weight of the 8 Reales was slightly reduced (i.e., shaving or something similar), but this would have been done for both the English and Irish coins. The Soho Mint would not have decided to place the 1 Shilling tariff on Irish currency, that would have been up to the Privy council or a similar governing body.
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