Catalogue of Irish Coin Prices
Modern Coins 1928-1969
Introduction to the Modern Coin Catalogue
The nature of coins is that they are produced in large numbers to facilitate commerce in a state. Therefore they are not normally scarce. This is especially true of coins produced in the 20th century, such as those on this page. However normal coins see normal circulation and after a time examples in better condition can become scarce. The relative scarcity of older coins in good condition is a function of many factors, the economic environment being one.
The value of a coin is a function of its scarcity for its type and condition, and the number of collectors seeking an example. The rarest coins in the world and the most expensive coins are not the same. Naturally the most expensive are not particularly common, but it is certainly true that obscure but extremely rare coins (even unique examples) can be quite inexpensive.
At the moment (Jan 2001) the most expensive coin (in terms of realised auction value) is the US 1804 Dollar which sold last year for just over $4,000,000.00. There are 15 examples known (in three varieties). Since I wrote this the only 1933 US double eagle has exceeded this price, but the comparison with the Irish coins is still valid.
An Irish halfpenny of Edward III of which only two examples are known sold at about the same time for about $10,000 and and Irish penny of Henry VII again one of two known examples sold for $900. Of course if you spend several decades studying, buying and selling coins there is some sense to it - or is there ? :-)
In terms of Irish coins the earlier coins are generally difficult to get in very high grade (i.e. Uncirculated or better), with the exception of the first year of issue, 1928 which is generally common. However it is the three silver denominations which are particularly scarce for dates between 1930 and 1937.
The 1943 florin and halfcrown ( discussed here ) are rare because of Central Bank decisions rather than normal circulation issues. And several dates in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are surprisingly rare or common for some denominations considering their mintage.
The 1938 penny and halfcrown ( discussed here ) are not really circulating coins, they are patterns for the new designs to be introduced the following year.
The base of collectors is small so a small hoard of early uncirculated coins of a particular date could significantly alter the price of those coins subsequently.
Buy rarities with caution, there are occasional rumours of hoards of this coin or that coin being released slowly onto the market so as not to 'kill' it.
Recent sales (i.e. 1999/2000) have seen strong prices for modern Irish coins particularly the two Whytes (www.whytes.ie) sales in February and the 'Millennial Sale' in April 2000. Part of this strength, viewed from the perspective of Irish pound prices, is probably reflected by the strength of Sterling and the US Dollar as many collectors are based in the UK and USA. However the local Irish economy has been through a significant boom which must be an additional factor.
Prices below are expressed in terms of what a collector seeking a particular coin and in contact with several dealers with stocks might expect to pay. An isolated collector who doesn't see many Irish coins might often pay more and be quite happy to do so. A seller looking to sell a coin may get significantly less unless they can tap into a direct market (such as on-line auctions) and even in these environments the 'risk factor' reduces the percentage of these prices available.
Prices for common coins in low grade are listed but in reality these coins are very common and price is usually a function of distance from Ireland as they can be purchased very cheaply in the occasional Dublin Coin Fairs.
Finally, remember that
there is no guaranteed market in coins - prices in this
and any other catalogue are a matter of opinion based on
past sales and an understanding of the range of existing
coins and existing collectors. I believe that my opinions
are as valid as any others and being on-line I can adjust
them as I learn, but they are just my opinions.
There are some notes on grading and on the scarcer coins in each denomination below most tables
** 1940 pennies are not difficult to obtain in nice EF with traces of mint lustre around the devices and in the harp strings. They are only particularly difficult to find in red uncirculated condition. The UNC price, as with other bronze coins, is for an original red lustrous uncirculated coin. A brown or partially brown coin even though exhibiting no wear and clearly uncirculated is worth substantially less - in the region of 160-250.
Many fine collections I have seen, which feature excellent examples of the other rarities in the series, contain a 1940 penny in only EF or AU condition.
Examples in Very Fine or worse condition are common.
*** The only 1938 penny known in private hands is in brown uncirculated condition. It has a very strong rim and appears to have been struck in proof quality but without a polished die. It was sold in an Australian auction a few years ago and was subsequently sold by Spink in London in 2002. It is now in a private collection..
This coin exists because of the need to test the dies for the new penny and halfcrown reverses. Trials exist dated 1938 for two denominations; the halfcrown and penny, which had a reverse design modification.
One 1938 penny and one 1938 halfcrown are in the National Museum of Ireland. The 1938 halfcrown is apparently unique.
The 1942 and 1968 pennies are occasionally found with the body of the second chick missing from behind the hen's leg
The error at first glance looks like a filled die problem, however the die is different in other areas, most noticeable in the shape of the arrow head in the hen's claw.
1968 examples are relatively easy to find in UNC. I have never seen a 1942 example for sale specifically as this variety, but I have seen examples on sale without the variety being remarked upon.
This variety may exist for other dates - probable if a different master die caused it - I have a report of a 1948 penny, but no other dates so far.
The collector interest is slight (though this may be too generous a term).
Don't confuse the 1964 proof penny with the 1962 and 1963 coins. Besides the 1928 proofs (and the 1966 10 shilling proof) the 1962 and 1963 proof pennies are the only readily available proof coins in this series. All the other proofs are extremely rare. Naturally the proofs are only of significant value if they are in original proof condition or nearly so.
Irish threepences, especially the nickel issues, are very difficult to grade in the Good Extremely Fine through AU to UNC range as the metal is hard-wearling and not prone to corrosion.. Be particularly careful not to over grade (or have it done to you) when buying high grade examples of 1933, 1935 or 1939. These coins in Uncirculated condition should have a mint bloom on the surface and should have sharp details on the hare's whiskers.
A weakly struck example (particularly a problem with 1933) is worth less even if it is really UNC - if your don't believe this when you buy the coin, you'll certainly find out when you try to sell it.
The corollary is that a collector with a more modest budget can buy an example which looks very like an UNC example for much less than the UNC price. This is not true of the bronze or silver denominations where the evidence of light circulation is much easier to detect and the colour of the coin is usually different from an UNC example.
The note ( above ) about the grading of nickel threepences applies to the sixpences as well. Be careful with grading of 1935 sixpences.
The CuNi sixpences from the mid 1940s and even up to the 1962 issue are surprisingly difficult to obtain in Uncirculated grade. However these coins are not scarce in lower grades. Be careful with grading these coins, look for good lustre, clean rims and examine the edges.
There are no easy grade points on Irish sixpences - overall appearance is the best guide.
Slight traces of wear on an almost uncirculated coin from the 1930-1937 period can be very difficult to detect if you haven't examined many of these coins. It makes a very big difference to the value of these coins.
1943 + For more
information on the 1943 rarities
The 1961 variety is not particularly difficult to find, but examples in extremely fine or better condition are very scarce. The variety was spotted by Derek Young (Editor of Irish Numismatics) in 1967 and at the time he estimated that there had been about 50,000 struck - see Identifying a 1961 Mule halfcrown.
Many of these coins (possibly 1,250,000) were melted by the Central Bank around decimalisation in 1971 and many more were melted privately when the price of silver was very high in 1980/81. However these coins are still common. As a nice uncirculated example is very cheap it is strongly recommended that collectors wait to find a really nice example with sharp rims and minimum bag marks.
Sets exist of Irish pre-decimal modern coins. The sets listed below were issued by the Central Bank (or the Currency Commission before 1942) although some of the issue details are not clear.
I am not including many of the numerous sets of circulated and uncirculated coins which were assembled (and in some cases still are being assembled) to meet collector demand. In general sets not listed below are worth the sum of the value of the coins they contain.
There are only thee years when all 8 coins in the series were struck:
1928, 1940 and 1966. These three years alone would also include all the coin types and metals in the series.
Unfortunately these three years are not good ones to start an uncirculated collection around because the 1940 penny is particularly difficult to find in uncirculated condition and the 1940 halfpenny is not particularly easy to obtain.
The commemorative ten shillings was struck in 1966 making that year set a 9 coin set.