O’Brien Coin Guide: Irish Pre-Decimal Florin


The florin (2s or 2/-) coin was a sub-division of the pre-decimal Irish pound, worth 1/10 of a pound.  It was more commonly known as the two-shilling coin.

  • The reverse design featuring a salmon 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.

In the 1927 competition to design the new Irish Free State coins, it was suggested that the florin depict a salmon.  The artists that were invited to enter this competition produced some unusual designs, e.g.

Eire, Ireland, Irish Free State, coin pattern, design, 1927 Albert Power pattern, florin (from a plaster model)

1927 Albert Power pattern, florin (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, florin (from a plaster model)

1927 Carl Milles, florin (from a plaster model)

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

1927 Oliver Shepard pattern, florin (plaster model)

Manship florin

Paul Manship florin design (pattern)

Irish Free State 1934 Florin

Irish Free State 1934 Florin

The original issue of this coin (1928 to 1943) contained 75% silver, a higher content than the equivalent British coin. It is believed that this was done so that the new currency would not be seen as a poor substitute to the British currency which circulated alongside.

  • The silver coins are quite noticeable as they have a more “whitish” look than the later cupro-nickel coins (1951-68)
  • The silver coins also ‘wear’ less well.
    • The cupro-nickel variety of coin consisted of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
    • The coin measured 1.125 inches (28.6 mm) in diameter and weighed 11.3 grams.
Irish Free State (75% silver)
1928 2,025,000
1930    330,000
1931    200,000
1933    300,000
1934    150,000
1935    390,000
1937    150,000
Republic of Ireland (75% silver)
1939 1,080,000
1940    670,000
1941    400,000
1942    109,000
1943               ?
Republic of Ireland (cupro-nickel)
1951 1,000,000
1954 1,000,000
1955 1,000,000
1959 2,000,000
1961 2,000,000
1962 2,400,000
1963 3,000,000
1964 4,000,000
1965 2,000,000
1966 3,625,000
1968 1,000,000

The last florins were produced in 1968. When the currency was decimalised this coin continued to circulate alongside its replacement ten pence, and the florin was finally withdrawn from 1 June 1994 as a smaller ten pence coin was introduced.  The obvious design changes were :-

  • the rim is no longer beaded
  • the initials (PM) of the designer (Percy Metcalfe) no longer appear beneath the salmon’s tail
Ireland (Eire) 1943 Florin

Ireland (Eire) 1943 Florin

Ireland 1978 10p

Ireland 1978 10p – in 1971 the old florin was replaced by a new 10p coin (which was the same weight, diameter and metal composition as the coins they replaced, i.e. cupro-nickel)

______________________________________________________

Notes:

The 2015 Krause (42th edition) coin catalogue erroneously lists a 1969 Irish florin - this coin does not (to the best of my knowledge) exist.

The 2015 Krause (42th edition) coin catalogue erroneously lists a 1969 Irish florin – this coin does not (to the best of my knowledge) exist. There are numerous websites and blogs that ‘copy’ the K&M lists – these sites are simply perpetuating the error. No Irish coin dealer lists this coin.


Related Articles

Irish Pre-Decimal Coins (1928-1969)

 


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