O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Bronze Halfpennies of George V


Background:

George V’s reign was a turbulent one for Ireland and a very exciting for Irish numismatics – the highlight being a new Irish currency in 1928. After independence, Ireland continued to use GB & Ireland coins and banknotes. Despite the popularity of the new Irish currency, the coinage of GB & Northern Ireland persisted after 1928 because IR£1 = GB£1. From a numismatic view, it was a strange situation, i.e. the British coins were not withdrawn and they continued to be used up until the 1970s.

Political events of George V’s long reign included:

  • outbreak of WW1 in 1914
  • the 1916 Rising in Dublin, Meath and Wexford
  • an illegal parliament in Dublin (Dáil Eireann) in 1919
  • the Irish War of Independence from 1919-21
  • a new parliament in Northern Ireland in 1921
  • the Treaty and (partial) independence in 1922
  • a Civil War in Ireland from 1922-23
  • a new currency in Ireland in 1928
  • a name change from the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) to the Republic of Ireland at the very end of his reign in 1936/37.

Bronze Halfpenny: George V

  • Alloy: Bronze (95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc)
  • Weight: 5.67 g
  • Diameter: 25 mm
  • Edge: Plain
  • Designers
    • Obverse: Bertram MacKennal (BM)
    • Reverse: Leonard Wyon / George De Saulles
GB & Ireland George V bronze halfpenny – Type I & II obverse. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland George V bronze halfpenny – Type I & II obverse.

Obverse: Type I (1911-25)

  • Bare head of George V facing left
  • Legend: GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP
  • Full (Latin) text: GEORGIVS V DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR INDIAE IMPERATOR
  • Translation: George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India

Obverse: Type II (1925-36)

  • Bare head of George V facing left
    • The Type II portrait is smaller than Type I
    • It is easy to identify because the neck does not extend into the legend below
  • Legend: GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP
    • Engraver’s initials below
  • Full (Latin) text: GEORGIVS V DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR INDIAE IMPERATOR
  • Translation: George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India

Reverse:

  • Britannia seated, facing right, wearing a helmet, holding a trident, hand resting on a shield
  • Legend: HALF and PENNY in the side fields
  • Date below

Mintage & Market Values:

George V Halfpenny, Type I obverse

1911-25 GB & Ireland bronze halfpenny (George V, Type 1 Obverse) mintage & market values. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

1911-25 GB & Ireland bronze halfpenny (George V, Type 1 Obverse) mintage & market values.

George V Halfpenny, Type II obverse

1925-36 GB & Ireland bronze halfpenny (George V, Type 2 Obverse) mintage & market values. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

1925-36 GB & Ireland bronze halfpenny (George V, Type 2 Obverse) mintage & market values.

Further reading:

Halfpenny (½d)

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