Did you know that Woods Hibernia coinage was used extensively in Ireland?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Jimski, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. Jimski

    Jimski Well-Known Member

    I didn’t know where else to put this because it could be of interest to World or US colonial collectors. So I put it in Chat (that's what the rules say). I hope I’m not the only one to whom this content was news.

    My 2016 copy of the Red Book (R. S. Yeoman) states: Hibernia Coins were unpopular in Ireland, so some of them were sent to the American colonies.

    And this was my understanding until recently. The paper referenced below, from which I have included an excerpt, says otherwise. The document is a great read for those interested in this coin’s history. The paper is very detailed, and is 18 pages long (2 1/2 of the pages are references).

    Let me know if this was news to you, and post your Hibernia.

    The text in curly brackets {} are my additions to the content. The document content is in italics.
    1723 Hibernia .jpg
    My Hibernia

    From http://numismatics.org/wikiuploads/CNL/Hibernia.pdf (full document at this link) (Footnote A)

    WOOD’S HIBERNIA COINS COME TO AMERICA by Brian J. Danforth, Ph.D.; Slingerlands, NY, THE COLONIAL NEWSLETTER August 2001


    Among colonial coinage, one of the more controversial topics is William Wood’s Hibernia coins. Under a 1722 patent, Wood minted at least £40,000 of copper Farthings and Halfpence for what was deemed a coin starved Ireland. Numismatic literature is rife with questions as to the acceptance of these coins in Ireland and their arrival and circulation in the American colonies. This article presents a revised view of what is commonly referenced on the subject.

    Most tales pertaining to Wood’s Money are not based on research but rather upon the self-serving written record of the opponents to these coppers. After a careful review of historical documents, it becomes clear that Wood’s coppers enjoyed extensive use in Ireland. In fact, they became the dominant medium of exchange for everyday transactions, especially in rural areas. Further, it can be reasonably assumed that Wood’s coins would have found their way to the American colonies during the course of commerce and immigration. Finally, when these coins became semi-demonetized in Ireland in 1737, they were not only readily available for export but also arrived in extensive numbers primarily in the Mid-Atlantic colonies.

    {some detail}
    The story of Wood’s coinage should not be gleaned solely from the records of the upper class whose documents have survived the centuries and often form the main source of our understanding of the era. Their concerns generally centered on issues that pertained to silver and gold, which represented the medium of exchange for commerce. The lower class, or the Common Man, that was the primary user of copper coins, was often illiterate and seldom left a record of its monetary concerns. It is because of these circumstances that many numismatists have been misled in their understanding of the important role that base metal coins, especially Irish coppers, played in the American colonial economy. ...

    The saga of Wood’s Money in America begins with its initial introduction into Ireland. Jonathan Swift, and other opponents of Wood’s coinage, laid the groundwork for the perspective that Wood’s coins were rejected and failed to circulate in Ireland. … Members of the party out of favor, such as Swift, were more than willing to attack their opponents in biting satirical prose … And it is here that Wood’s coppers became a rallying point for those dissatisfied with London.

    Assuming the role of advocates of Irish nationalism, Wood’s detractors wrote numerous tracts, leaving behind them a well documented tale of their opposition. … it is clear from recent research that Wood’s coins did enjoy a high level of acceptance and circulation. … As a commentator on the Wood’s controversy related:

    as soon as the Copper-Money appear’d, it met with a general Approbation; the People took it with so free a Consent, that it became universally current: There was no Objections rais’d, either against its Figure, which was very beautiful, or the Workmanship, which was complete, or the Value and Fineness of the Metal...the Shop-keepers (in particular) felt the Advantage in their Retail Business...These Farthings and Halfpence...are nothing but a certain Quantity of Copper Metal sold in small pieces...they are carried to Market as coin’d Copper Metal...and... ‘tis a current Merchandize (sic)... 1)

    1. Daniel Defoe, Some Farther Account of the Original Disputes in Ireland, about Farthing and Halfpence, in a Discourse with a Quaker Of Dublin (Dublin, 1728), pp. 43, 45.

    The demise of Wood’s coppers came in 1737 upon the release into circulation of the new regal coins. Then the Crown proclaimed that the Collectors of the King’s Revenue would thereafter restrict the number of Wood’s coppers that would be accepted in any given payment. This pronouncement coincided with the order that the army would limit its use of Wood’s coins in making payments to the troops. The scene was now set for the export en masse of Wood’s Money. …

    Footnote A) I’m not sure if all The Colonial Newsletters are available at numismatics.org, but I believe all of the “THE COLONIAL NEWSLETTER” are available for reading or download at

    https://nnp.wustl.edu/ The Newman Numismatic Portal is located at Washington University in St. Louis and funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. The NNP is dedicated to becoming the primary and most comprehensive resource for numismatic research and reference material, initially concentrating on U.S. Coinage and Currency.

    Use the advanced search with the following parameters: Content Type=Any, Title=The Colonial Newsletter, and fill in the Publication year, search. Parse the documents for the one you are looking for. … (I couldn’t cut and past the NNP content, but I could the document google found at numismatics.org, so I included its link).
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  3. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    That is a very interesting article, and it really makes much more sense than the old accepted theories. Hibernias apparently circulated pretty heavily in America judging by the numbers found by metal detectorists. I have always liked the William Wood coinage, Hibernias and Rosa Americanas but they have never been too popular with collectors.
  4. Jimski

    Jimski Well-Known Member

    I am working on a post about the Rosa Americana coinage. I'm sure that the content will be new to you. I'm sure it will be controversial. It should be out within a couple of days.

    Thanks for the reply.
  5. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    Looking forward to it!
  6. Jimski

    Jimski Well-Known Member

  7. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    Did you know that Woods Hibernia coinage was used extensively in Ireland?

    Jimski likes this.
  8. Dougmeister

    Dougmeister The Coin Scavenger © ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



    Jimski likes this.
  9. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    Great read on the Woods Hibernia. It makes perfect sense as they had their weight in copper and circulated. Until basically demonetized
    Jimski likes this.
  10. mac266

    mac266 Well-Known Member

    I just checked out a book on these from the ANA library, and it makes the claim the coins were unpopular. To add credibility to the argument, the author cites several riots which occurred in protest of the coins, coercion by vigilante groups (and opposition politicians) against store owners who accepted them or paid their employees with them, etc.
  11. Jimski

    Jimski Well-Known Member

    Interesting. What was the book title and Author?
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