O’Brien Coin Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Halfcrown


The half-crown (2s6d or 2/6) coin was a subdivision of the pre-decimal Irish pound, worth 1/8 of a pound.  The halfcrown was commonly called “two and six” due to its value of two shillings and sixpence (indicated on the coin itself as ‘2s6d’).  For almost half a century it was the largest circulating Irish coin – the 10/- piece of 1966 didn’t really circulate because the people at the time didn’t take to it – often complaining “haven’t we got a 10/- note.”  The 10/- coin was quickly withdrawn when the price of bullion silver rose rapidly and the coin’s face value was less than its bullion value.

In 1927 there was a coin design competition run by the then Irish Free State and numerous designs were put forward – in line with the guidelines that the halfcrown should feature a horse.  Some of the designs are shown below :-

1927 Carl Milles, halfcrown 2 (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, halfcrown (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, halfcrown 1 (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, halfcrown (from a plaster model)

1927 Morbiducci pattern, halfcrown (silver)

1927 Morbiducci pattern, halfcrown (silver)

1927 Oliver Shepard pattern, halfcrown (from a plaster model)

1927 Oliver Shepard pattern, halfcrown (plaster model)

Manship halfcrown

Manship halfcrown

1927 Percy Metcalfe pattern, halfcrown (from a plaster model)

1927 Percy Metcalfe pattern, halfcrown (plaster model)

The original issue of this coin from (1928 to 1943) contained 75% silver, a higher content than the equivalent British coin.

  • The silver coins were quite distinguishable as they had a whiter appearance than the later cupronickel variety minted from 1951.
  • The silver coins wore less well. The subsequent cupro-nickel coin (1951-67) comprised 75% copper and 25% nickel.
  • The coin measured 1.275 inches (32.4 mm) in diameter and weighed 14.1 grams.

The reverse design of the coin, by Percy Metcalfe featured an Irish Hunter, a breed of horse.  This design was used later for the twenty pence coin issued in 1986.

Irish Free State 1933 Halfcrown

Irish Free State 1933 Halfcrown

  • 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.
    • From 1939 to 1967 the inscription changed to éire on the left of the harp and the date on the right.
Irish Free State (75% silver)
1928 2,160,000
1930    352,000
1931    160,000
1933    336,000
1934    480,000
1937      40,000

proof halfcrown, 1951 (S 6638), practically FDC, extremely rare

Republic of Ireland ‘proof’ halfcrown, 1951 (S 6638), practically FDC, extremely rare

Republic of Ireland (75% silver)
1938          1 ?   This coin is held by the National Museum of Ireland
1939 888,000
1940 752,000
1941 320,000
1942 286,000
1943           ?
Republic of Ireland (cupro-nickel)
1951    800,000
1954    400,000
1955 1,080,000
1959 1,600,000
1961 1,600,000
Mule      50,000    see separate blog post to help identify this variety
1962 3,200,000
1963 2,400,000
1964 3,200,000
1966    700,000
1967 2,000,000

The last half crowns were produced in 1967 and were withdrawn on 1 January 1970.

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Related Articles

Irish Pre-Decimal Coins (1928-1969)

 


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