In 1971, Ireland decimalised its currency in parallel with the UK. We did this because we were tied to the UK Pound at that time and one of the more unusual aspects of decimalisation was that both countries adopted a ‘non-decimal’ fraction of the basic unit (100 new pence = one pound), i.e. a decimal halfpenny (something of an oxymoron).
|Thickness||approx. 1 mm|
|Years of minting||1971–1986|
The ‘ornamental bird’ design was inspired by The Book of Kells – a famous Early Christian illuminated manuscript kept in Trinity College Dublin.
With soaring oil prices, inflation rapidly and within 15 years, the decimal halfpenny was withdrawn. The last Irish decimal halfpenny is difficult to obtain due to the fact that it was only issued as part of a Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) year set.
- Only 6,750 of these sets were issued.
- These sets were also the only way to obtain the 1986 10p and 50p coins
Although there were 2.8 million halfpennies minted in 1985, this coin is particularly scare in the higher grades as the vast majority of them were melted in 1987 (after the coin was withdrawn from circulation). They are still legal tender but can be exchanged at the Central Bank of Ireland in Dame Street, Dublin.
Alternatively, you might try selling them to a coin dealer they usually pay more than the Central Bank for such coins.
There are several errors worth collecting – the most common being a ‘clipped’ planchet.
2 thoughts on “O’Brien Coin Guide: Irish Decimal Halfpenny”
Imagine that, dealers are paying more than 1/2p.
I knew a fellow who ran a coin and curio stand at the George’s St. Arcade.
For years he was offering £50 for a 1985 EIRE 1/2p found in circulation.
It is my understanding he never paid.
There were two dealers that ran that shop: Bygones
– the first was Niall Murphy, an ex-banker
– the second was Brian O’Neill, also an ex-banker
Both of them were extremely nice guys, knowledgeable and (importantly) very generous with their numismatic knowledge.
They both had a very dry sense of humour.
Brian famously quipped “I bought a coin shop and I haven’t looked forward since.”
Niall’s most quotable phrase was “There are only three things certain in life: death, taxes and ingratitude.”
Their shop was a magnet for collectors, part-time dealers and visitors from abroad.
You never knew who you were going to meet when visiting them.