Gold coins circulating in Ireland during the reign of Henry VI, c. 1460 (when he fixed exchange rates)

Monetary Crisis (1460), as Henry VI fixes exchange rates for foreign coins in Ireland

Introduction: The price of gold rose from the 1430s onward, so gold coins were worth more in Europe than in England, which resulted in a gold shortage in England as coins were exported for profit. This is known as an ‘arbitrage market’ and is also an early example of Gresham’s Law – it caused a…

O'Reilly Money - Henry VI, annulet issue, Calais mint, ex Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society

Monetary Crisis in Ireland, as Henry VI struggles with money supply and fiscal control

Introduction: During the reign of Henry VI many parliamentary regulations were made in Ireland, relating to money; but most of these acts, as well as those of the three former reigns, are either lost or destroyed. 1422 By an English statute of his second year, it was enacted, that the ounce of silver should be…

Mining in the 14th C - scenes from a medieval silver mine

Monetary Crisis (1369), as Richard II orders his colonists to search for silver and gold mines in Ireland

Following the death in 1376 of his father, Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince), Richard became heir to his grandfather, King Edward III of England, whom he succeeded in 1377 at the age of ten. His reign of twenty-two years saw a number of domestic crises, from the Peasants’ Revolt (1381) to later conflicts with…

1862 GB & Ireland bronze farthing (Victoria, Bun Head) uncirculated

O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Bronze Farthings (Victoria)

Background The bronze Coinage of Queen Victoria was introduced in the year 1860, to replace the copper coinage first inaugurated by Charles II in 1672. This new alloy for coinage had several advantages over the old copper coins:- it was lighter, cheaper and had greater hardness / durability But bronze is not as easy to…

1902 GB & Ireland bronze farthing (Edward VII)

O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Bronze Farthings (Edward VII)

Background: Victoria, at that time, was the longest serving British monarch in history, so her son Edward was an old man by the time he succeeded her. Not a lot happened in terms of numismatic innovation during his short reign but it is, perhaps, worth mentioning that James Joyce had a few things to say…

1936 GB & Ireland bronze farthing (George V)

O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Bronze Farthings (George V)

Background: After the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, UK currency remained the formal currency of the Irish Free State until 1928. After this date, UK coins continued to circulate alongside the Irish coins right up until Decimalisation (1971) and well into the 1970s. Irish Free State farthings were minted in London by…

1943 GB & Ireland bronze farthing (George VI)

O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Northern Ireland Bronze Farthings (George VI)

Background: Edward VIII advised the Royal Mint that he wanted a modern coinage to reflect a modern Britain but, after his abdication, it was his younger brother (George VI) who inherited his new designs – the first of which was the farthing. A European Wren replaced Britannia on the reverse. This bird motif was similar…