O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Copper Halfpennies of 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. Prior to this date, no halfpennies were issued in the name of George IV, so his first copper halfpenny incorporated an Irish theme into the design, i.e. there is no Type I and Type II like there is in the farthings.

  • 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:

Prior to ascension, George IV served as Prince Regent from 1811 until 1820, due to his fathers ill health. His charm and culture earned him the title “the first gentleman of England”, but he was disliked by the general population for his extravagance and lack of leadership during the Napoleonic wars.

His lavish lifestyle contributed to the fashions known as the Regency era. He was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste and he was instrumental in the foundation of the National Gallery and King’s College London.

  • He commissioned John Nash to build the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and re-model Buckingham Palace
  • He also commissioned Sir Jeffry Wyattville to re-build Windsor Castle.

George IV: Copper Halfpenny

These are British & Irish halfpennies and they circulated throughout Ireland. They were designed by William Wyon (obverse and reverse) and minted by The Royal Mint in London.

1825 George IV copper halfpenny

1825 George IV copper halfpenny

Obverse:

  • Laureate bust of King George IV facing left.
  • The legend reads: ‘GEORGIUS IIII’ to the left, and ‘DEI GRATIA.’ to the right, with the date below.
    • Translation: (from Latin) George the Fourth, by the Grace of God

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 and a rose, thistle, and shamrock below
    • Translation: (from Latin) King of the Britains, Defender of the Faith

Specifications:

  • Diameter = 28mm
  • Edge = plain
  • Weight = 9.34g

Mintage & Market Values:

GB & Ireland 1825-1827 George IV copper halfpenny mintages

GB & Ireland 1825-1827 George IV copper halfpenny – mintage & market values

 

Further reading:

Halfpenny (½d)

 

 

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