Free State Penny fetches £17,360 at Dix Noonan Webb
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Free State Penny fetches £17,360 at Dix Noonan Webb
Known as the Free State Penny (1921-1937), the bronze penny was decorated with a harp on one side, and hens and chickens on the other, was designed by Roman sculptor Publio Morbiducci (1889-1963) for the competition to design Ireland’s new money in 1928.

LONDON.- An intriguing and extremely rare Irish coin dating from 1927 that was designed by an Italian but was never put into circulation sold for £17,360* in a sale of Irish Coins, Tokens and Historical Medals by Mayfair-based international coins, medals, banknotes and jewellery specialists Dix Noonan Webb on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Estimated at £4,000-5,000, the coin was part of a collection that was amassed between 1972 and 1978 by a gentleman and was being offered at auction for the first time. Like the majority of items in the whole sale which were acquired by collectors from Ireland, both North and South, the coin was purchased by an Irish Collector [lot 81].

Known as the Free State Penny (1921-1937), the bronze penny was decorated with a harp on one side, and hens and chickens on the other, was designed by Roman sculptor Publio Morbiducci (1889-1963) for the competition to design Ireland’s new money in 1928. He was ultimately unsuccessful and the precise numbers of pieces which now exist are uncertain. In 1976, it is believed that only three pieces existed in bronze.

Other items that sold well from the collection of 82 lots which fetched £110,036 was a shilling from the reign of Queen Mary, dating from 1553, which realised £8,680 against an estimate of £2,400 - £3,000 [lot 50], while a rare Groat from Dublin dating from the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509) fetched £7,440 against an estimate of £1,200-1,500 [lot 37].

Elsewhere in the sale was a large collection of 180 lots of Irish Gunmoney and Emergency Issues of 1689-1691 from the collection of John Rainey which sold for £52,991. Many of the lots are duplicates from the main study group used to produce the most recent book on the subject, Irish Gunmoney and the Emergency Issues of 1689-1691, A Corpus and Die Study, by Paul and Bente R. Withers in 2020, and is believed to be the most extensive group to ever come up in one auction. These coins were made from metal from cannon and were only produced at two mints in Ireland - Dublin and Limerick. The highest prices were paid for a two silver proofs from the from the reign of James II and dating from 1690. A halfcrown which had been produced in Dublin – one of only five specimens known - sold for £6,200 against an estimate of £3,000-4,000 [lot 173], while a rare halfpenny sold for £1,984 against an estimate of £1,000-£1,500 [lot 251].

A further group of 64 lots of Irish tokens from the collection formed by the late Barry Woodside sold for £15,060. Belfast-born Mr Woodside had a great interest in numismatics, particularly Irish tokens, which began in the early 1980s. Three lots that each sold for £1,178 was an extremely rare copper token for the Rock Coffee Tavern in Loughgall in Co. Armagh, which had been estimated at £90- 120 [lot 373]. While a three tokens from Glenanne in Co. Armagh had been estimated at £80- £100 [lot 372]; aswell as a group of four examples from Banbridge, Co. Down which were also estimated at £80-100 [lot 376].

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