O’Brien Coin Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Shilling


The shilling (often written as 1s or 1/-) coin was a sub-division of the pre-decimal Irish pound, and was worth 1/20th of a pound.

The original issue of the coin from 1928 until 1942 contained 75% silver; thus this Irish coin had a higher content than the equivalent British coin. These earlier coins were noticeably different from their later counterparts as they were of a lighter hue than the later (1951-68) cupro-nickel coins, and they resisted wear less well.  The cupro-nickel coin contained 75% copper and 25% nickel.

  • The shilling coin measured 0.935 inches (23.7 mm) in diameter
  • It weighed 5.655 grams and the later cupro-nickel coin was the same weight

In 1927, a competition was held to design a new Irish coinage and entries were received from a short list of invited artists.  Their shilling designs were all of a bull, as suggested by the committee brought together to run the competition and judge the designs.  The following are some of the rejected designs + the original design by Percy Metcalfe.

1927 Carl Milles, shilling (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, shilling (from a plaster model)

1927 Morbiducci pattern, shilling (silver)

1927 Morbiducci pattern, shilling (silver)

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

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

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

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

Metcalfe’s original design was modified by the Royal Mint to improve metal flow and other technical minting issues.

1933 Saorstat Eireann shilling

1933 Saorstat Eireann shilling

  • The reverse design featuring a bull was by English artist Percy Metcalfe.
  • 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 1968 the inscription changed to éire on the left of the harp and the date on the right
    • There was no Irish shilling minted in 1938
Irish Free State
1928 2,700,000
1930   460,000
1931   400,000
1933   300,000
1935   400,000
1937   100,000
ireland coin irish shilling pre-decimal numismatics

1951 Irish (Eire) shilling

Republic of Ireland
1939 1,140,000
1940   580,000
1941   300,000
1942   286,000
1951 2,000,000
1954 3,000,000
1955 1,000,000
1959 2,000,000
1962 4,000,000
1963 4,000,000
1964 4,000,000
1966 3,000,000
1968 4,000,000

The last shillings were minted in 1968 but when the currency was decimalised, this coin continued to circulate alongside its replacement five pence (which also featured a bull on the reverse).  The shilling was finally withdrawn from circulation on 1st January 1993 when a smaller five pence coin was introduced.

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Related Articles

Irish Pre-Decimal Coins (1928-1969)

 


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