The sixpence (6d) (Irish: reul) coin was a sub-division of the pre-decimal Irish pound, worth 1/40 of a pound or ½ of a shilling. It ‘nickname’ was a ‘tanner’ and it is thought that this is from John Sigismund Tanner, originally from Saxe-Coburg, who was a medallist and designer at the Royal Mint. The sixpence he designed for George II popularly gained his name and this stuck for all the other designs right up until decimalisaton.
In 1927 a competition was run by the Irish Government to design new coins and entries were put forward by several renowned artists, sculptors and designers of the day, including :-
Apart from the plaster models, Manship also had one of each coin struck as a pattern in bronze. Each Manship pattern is unique and Manship donated them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929, the year Metcalfe’s designed coins were released. He also donated his studio set of the eight plaster models to the Smithsonian Art Museum (among other studio models) in 1965 a year before his death.
The Morbiducci ‘die struck’ patterns are extremely rare and some are in the hands of private collectors. When they appear at auction, they usually command a very high premium and are subject to frenzied bidding.
Eleven Morbiducci sixpences are known to exist.
- 5 pattern sixpences struck in silver
- 4 pattern sixpences struck in bronze
The obverse featured the Irish harp. From 1928 to 1937 the date was split either side of the harp with the name Saorstát Éireann circling around.
Irish Free State
Struck in nickel and, like the threepence coin, and was very well wearing – thus making the ‘higher grades’ difficult to assess. Later issues, in cupro-nickel are not so hard-wearing and are difficult to find in the higher grades.
Republic of Ireland
Struck in nickel
The metal was changed to cupro-nickel in 1942 as nickel increased in value; this coin, which consisted of 75% copper and 25% nickel, was not as well-wearing.
- These coins measured 0.825 inches (21.0 mm) in diameter
- They weighed 4.53593 grams.
Republic of Ireland
During the run up to decimalisation, it was expected that the sixpence (or a re-named decimal equivalent) would circulate alongside the new decimal coins, with a value of 2½ new pence in Ireland and in the United Kingdom.
- With this in mind, the Central Bank of Ireland continued to have the coin minted, last dated 1969, while minting and stock-piling the new decimal coins.
- This idea, however, was quickly rejected as being incompatible with the forthcoming decimal currency and the sixpence was withdrawn – alongwith the threepence and halfcrown.
Irish Pre-Decimal Coins (1928-1969)
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Farthing
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Halfpenny
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Penny
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Threepence
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Sixpence
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Shilling
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Florin
- O’Brien Coin Price Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Halfcrown
If you found this article useful, please connect to me on LinkedIn and endorse some of my skills.
Alternatively, please connect or follow my coin and banknote image gallery on Pinterest.
Or, follow me on Twitter (I post daily)