O’Brien Rare Coin Review: Does an Irish (small) 1991 5p coin exist?

The Irish five pence coin, first introduced in 1971, was 5.65518 grams in weight with a diameter of 2.3595 centimetres. This matched the British five pence coin. As a modern coin it became apparent in the late 1980s that the coin’s physical dimensions were large relative to its value.

  • On 30th April, 1992, Minister for Finance (Bertie Ahern announced that a new 5p coin would be introduced in June.
  • The new coin will be lighter and smaller than the current 5p coin but will retain the existing design.”

The original (large) five pence was last minted in 1990 and in 1992 a replacement was 3.25 grams in weight with a 1.85 centimetres diameter (differing from the corresponding new British five pence coin). This new coin kept the old design but incorporated some changes, notably the location of the figure and reversing the main design of the bull. The composition of the five pence was 75% copper and 25% nickel.

  • Large 5p
    • 1990    7,500,000
  • Small 5p
    • 1992  74,500,000

Large (1971-1990) five pence coin and small (1992-2000) five pence coin.

  • Did the Central Bank of Ireland issue a 1991 5p to Telecom Éireann engineers to calibrate the phone boxes before the introduction of the new (smaller) 5p coin in 1992 ???
    • Is this the Holy Grail of Irish numismatics?

If the vending machines had to be calibrated in 1985 and 1992 for the new 20p and smaller 10p, respectively – it is logical that a similar exercise was carried out in 1991 for the imminent arrival of the smaller 5p in 1992 – unless they could complete the project within the first five months of 1992.

To date, no 1991 small Irish 5p coins have been found or reported.

Further reading:


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