For nearly 10 centuries, during and after British rule, the monetary system of Ireland was a confusion of farthings, shillings, florins, crowns, and pence—more than a dozen denominations, as well as multiples and fractions. It took 12 pence—that is, 12 pennies— to make a shilling, and 20 shillings to make a pound. One penny, then, was worth 1/ 240th of a pound sterling. Despite the low value, the penny coins tended to be large. This all changed in 1969, when the government decided to retire this complex and antiquated system. The so-called decimalization of the monetary system saw some denominations fall out of use. The new penny coins, which were themselves replaced by Euro cents in 2002, were much smaller than the old “large penny” coins, which were collected by the Central Bank of Ireland and destroyed.
This 1968 coin was the last issue of the “large penny” variety, and became an instant collector’s item. The distinctive design of the 30.82mm penny features an iconic Irish harp on the obverse, long a symbol of good luck. The harp design dates to the reign of King Henry VIII in 1534. The hen and chicks motif on the reverse is a homage to the rural character of Ireland. Because of the rich symbolism—and because these are the last of their kind—this coin became known as a “lucky Irish penny.”
This genuine bronze coin is an uncirculated Irish one penny. Percy Metcalf designed the coin in 1928, shortly after the formation of independent Ireland. This coin was minted in 1968, the last year in which this large penny design was struck. The abbreviation for penny is “d,” from the first letter of the Roman word denarius.
Album open measures: 11” x 7.5”
Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
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