O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Copper Pennies of William IV


GB & Ireland copper pennies (1825-60) are very sought after by collectors. They are often found in attic clearances and car boot sales in Ireland. The comparatively soft metal results in few coins surviving in higher grades. Many varieties exist and the main ones have been listed below.

William IV

William IV became king in 1830 at age 62 after the death of his brother (George IV), who had no surviving ‘legitimate’ heirs. Dubbed ‘the sailor king’ for his naval service in his younger years, William had not expected to be King. William did not marry, due primarily to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which forbade decendants of George II from marriage without consent from the monarch, or privy council.

  • William did have a ‘de facto’ relationship producing many children, none of which were considered legitimate, so had no claim on the throne.
  • Victoria thus became queen.

William IV Copper Pennies

1837 GB & Ireland Copper Penny (William IV)

  • Obverse:
    • Bare head of King William IV facing right.
    • Legend: ‘GULIELMUS IIII  DEI GRATIA’, date below.
      • Translation: William the Fourth, by the Grace of God
  • Reverse:
    • Britannia seated facing right, holding a trident, hand resting on a shield.
    • Legend: ‘BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF:’, with a rose, thistle, and shamrock below.
      • Full legend in Latin: BRITANNIARUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR
      • Translation: King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith


  • Weight = 18.7 g
  • Diameter = 34 mm
  • Designer = William Wyon

Mintage & Market Values:

1831-1837 William IV copper penny mintage & market values. (The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin)

1831-1837 William IV copper penny mintage & market values.


1831 William IV copper penny varieties. (The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin)

1831 William IV copper penny varieties

Further Reading:






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