O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Copper Farthings (George IV)


Background

In 1825, in the middle of the reign of King George IV, the long-planned “customs and monetary” union of Great Britain and Ireland was enacted. From a numismatic viewpoint, the farthings of 1826 changed design – from “draped bust laureat” to

  • The Irish pound was thence tied to sterling and almost “free trade” conditions followed, leading to an economic disaster in Ireland.
  • Unable to compete with a rapidly industrialising neighbour, many of Ireland’s proto-industries collapsed and the economy shifted to the export of food and primary commodities such as wool and leather.

George IV Copper Farthings (Type I)

These are British farthings and were not meant to circulate in Ireland. They were also worth a fraction more – but not enough to make any difference when spent individually, so they do often turn up in Ireland.

  • Strictly speaking, George IV farthings dating from 1821-1825 are not Irish and we are not sure what ‘the split’ was between Type I and Type II in 1826.

I have included both types in this article because there are frequent enquiries about which 1826 is real and which one is a token, or a contemporary forgery?

  • As you will see, both types are real.
1826 GB Farthing - Type I (draped, laureate bust)

1826 GB Farthing – Type I (draped, laureate bust)

Obverse:

  • Robed (or draped) laureate bust of King George IV facing left.
  • The legend reads: ‘GEORGIUS IIII’ to the left, and ‘DEI GRATIA.’ to the right.

Reverse:

  • Helmeted Britannia seated facing right, holding a trident, and an olive branch against a shield. In the background a lion lies at her feet.
  • The surrounding legend reads: ‘BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF:’, with date below
George IV - GB Copper Farthing, Type 1 (1821-26)

George IV – GB Copper Farthing, Type 1 (1821-26)

Notes:

  • The Royal Mint records do not differenciate between Type 1 and Type 2 in 1826
    • We do not know how many of each type were minted
  • The raised / incuse leaf rib varieties are not usually discernible below EF grade
    • There are several different types of this variety
    • 1822/23 George IV Farthing, Type 1 (raised & incuse leaf mid-ribs varieties)

      1822/23 George IV Farthing, Type 1 (raised & incuse leaf mid-ribs varieties)

    • All are scarce
  • The 5 over 5 refers to an ‘over-strike’ variety in the date (1825)
  • The G/O, U/D, E/F and R/E varieties are not usually discernible below VF grade
    • 1821 George IV Farthing, Type (G over O in GRATIA variety)

      1821 George IV Farthing, Type (G over O in GRATIA variety)

    • 1825 George IV Farthing, Type (U over D variety)

      1825 George IV Farthing, Type (U over D in DEI variety)

      1825 George IV Farthing, Type (E over F in DEF variety)

      1825 George IV Farthing, Type (E over F in DEF variety)

  • The I for 1 in the 1823 date looks like a Roman numeral I
    • It is barely discernable below VF grade.
    • 1823 George IV Farthing, Type (Roman I in date variety)

      1823 George IV Farthing, Type (Roman I in date variety)

George IV Copper Farthing (Type II)

These are British & Irish farthings and circulated throughout Ireland. The most noticeable difference is the date now appears on the obverse, beneath the king’s head, as opposed to being on the reverse on the previous George IV British farthing.

1826 GB & Ireland Farthing - Type II (couped, laureate bust)

1826 GB & Ireland Farthing – Type II (couped, laureate bust)

Obverse:

  • Laureate head of King George IV facing left.
  • The surrounding legend reads: ‘GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA’, with the date below.

Reverse:

  • Helmeted Britannia seated facing right, holding a trident, hand resting on a shield, with a rose, thistle, and shamrock in the exergue.
  • The surrounding legend reads: ‘BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF:’
George IV - GB & Ireland Copper Farthing, Type 2 (1826-30)

George IV – GB & Ireland Copper Farthing, Type 2 (1826-30)

Notes:

  • The Royal Mint records do not differenciate between Type 1 and Type 2 in 1826
    • We do not know how many of each type were minted
  • The I for 1 in the 1826 date looks like a Roman numeral I
    • 1826 George IV Farthing, Type 2 (Roman I in date variety)

      1826 George IV Farthing, Type 2 (Roman I in date variety)

    • It is barely discernable below VF grade.

Other farthing coins in this series

 

 

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