Irish Specimen Coins from the King’s Norton Collection


The King’s Norton Mint Collection

In 1889, Thomas Richard Bayliss in conjunction with his son, Thomas Abraham Bayliss, founded King’s Norton Metal Co. They would go on to become an important private mint and even supplied the Royal Mint via sub-contracting.

  • In 1911 and 1912, the King’s Norton Metal Co supplied bronze blanks for pennies, halfpennies and farthings. They provided the first competition to Birmingham Mint when it was contracted to supply bronze blanks to the Royal Mint
  • In 1914 Kings Norton Metal Co struck its first coins for the colonies
    • i.e. British West Africa pennies (for use in the colonies of Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia)
  • In 1918 and 1919, with the Royal Mint busy manufacturing and supplying war medals, they produced the now much sought after British KN-mintmarked pennies.

Their core business was derived from “Manufacturers of Naval and Military Ammunition, Rolled Metals, Wire. Specialities: Cartridges for Small Arms, Naval and Field Guns, Fuses, Primers, Specialist Metals, e.g. Cupro-Nickel, German Silver, Patent White Metals “Knalba I”, “Knalba II”, Soft Steel.”

Meanwhile, they continued to produce dies for themselves and other mints – one of these included the Irish Mint at Sandyford. In order to complete the deal, they would produce ‘specimen’ coins for examination and approval by their clients. They retained some of these specimens and proofs as exhibits in their “King’s Norton Collection.” It evolved into a large collection with examples of most on the specimen and proof coins the Kings Norton mint made for various countries and maintained in the mint collection.

  • Most are very scarce if not rare
  • Others have populations of over a dozen pieces certified by PCGS
  • All are extremely collectable !

Over the years, King’s Norton underwent names changes, mergers and take-overs … but their minting operation continued – albeit in ever diminishing volumes. They were eventually absorbed into the Birmingham Mint Co.

  • The Birmingham Mint went into liquidation in March 2003, after 209 years existence as one of the world’s leading mints.
  • It was formed from Matthew Boulton and James Watt’s Soho Mint and Ralph Heaton’s, taking in the King’s Norton Metal Company along the way.
  • Before they closed, their last big order was in 2000 when The Birmingham Mint Ltd secured their biggest ever-single order – over £45 million sales value – to supply German Mints with 1 & 2 Euro Coin Blanks.
    • They also struck 50 million 2 Euro coins for another European national mint

One of the most important effects as far as coin collectors will be concerned is that in 2003, a number of very rare coin issues have found their way onto the market. These will have included sample coins similar to printers’ proofs, and small quantities of stray coins from aborted production orders.

  • Some of the ‘specimen’ coins that found their way on to the market included the following Irish examples.

Irish Specimen Coins

From an Irish viewpoint, it is perhaps somewhat surprising to see so many Irish pieces featuring in a Heritage Auctions catalogue (CCE Signature Sale, 17 April 2017). It would appear that the Central Bank of Ireland was sub-contracting some elements of its coin production well after the opening of the Irish Mint at Sandyford, Co Dublin in the mid-1970s, e.g. the production of dies – hence the specimen strikes.

KNM collection - 1968 Irish penny

Ireland Republic Specimen Penny 1968 SP66 Red PCGS, KM11. A rare offering as a Specimen, the present offering remains bright with a “freshly struck” appearance.Ex. Kings Norton Mint Collection

1973 Cupro-Nickel 10p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1973 Copper-Nickel 10 Pence. PCGS SP66. Edge: Reeded. 28.5mm. 11.32gm. Irish harp / Salmon right. KM 23. Reverse Designer: Percy Metcalfe. An exceedingly rare Birmingham Mint specimen striking.

1974 Cupro-Nickel 10p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1974 Copper-Nickel 10 Pence. PCGS SP65. Edge: Reeded. 28.5mm. 11.32gm. Irish harp / Salmon right. KM 23. Reverse Designer: Percy Metcalfe. An exceedingly rare Birmingham Mint specimen striking.

Ireland. 1975 Cupro-Nickel 10p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1975 Copper-Nickel 10 Pence. PCGS SP65. Edge: Reeded. 28.5mm. 11.32gm. Irish harp / Salmon right. KM 23. Reverse Designer: Percy Metcalfe. An exceedingly rare Birmingham Mint specimen striking.

Ireland 1976 Cupro-Nickel 10p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1976 Copper-Nickel 10 Pence. PCGS SP66. Edge: Reeded. 28.5mm. 11.32gm. Irish harp / Salmon right. KM 23. Reverse Designer: Percy Metcalfe. An exceedingly rare Birmingham Mint specimen striking.

1975 Cupro-Nickel 50p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1975 Copper-Nickel 50 Pence. PCGS SP65. Edge: Plain. 30mm. 13.3gm. Harp / Woodcock. KM 24. 7 curved sides. Reverse Designer: Percy Metcalfe. An exceedingly rare Birmingham Mint specimen striking.

KNM collection - 1981 Irish fifty pence

Ireland Republic Specimen 50 Pence 1981 SP64 PCGS, Kings Norton Mint, KM24. Rare offering with sharply struck details and glistening surfaces that display splendid eye-appeal to the viewer

Ireland 1975 Bronze 1p, ex-King's Norton Collection

Ireland. 1979 AE Penny. PCGS SP68RD (Red). Edge: Plain. 20.3mm. 3.56gm. Irish harp / Stylized bird and value. KM 20. Reverse Designer: Gabriel Hayes. Exceedingly rare as a specimen striking. ex. King’s Norton Mint Collection.

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