25/03/2020 Coins, Medals & Banknotes
The Rare 1943 Irish Half Crown Silver Coin
In 1928 the newly independent Irish Free State issued a magnificent set of 8 Irish coins from the farthing (a quarter of a penny) up to the half crown (two shillings and sixpence) as Ireland’s new currency. Each coin had a different bird, fish or animal on the reverse, and all had a common obverse with the Irish harp and date. They circulated in Ireland (and Northern Ireland) alongside the equivalent English coins.
The shilling, florins (two shillings) and half-crown coins were minted in 75% pure silver. However, in 1943 during the Second World War the price of silver rose so much, that the coins were worth more for their silver content, than their face value. Accordingly, it was decided to return all the florins and half crowns minted in 1943 (there were no shillings) to the Royal Mint in London to be melted down. That was the end of the story - until 1968 when a 1943 Irish half crown was discovered in circulation. This was a coin that should not have existed – so the hunt was on! Eventually an estimated 500 were discovered before all the half crowns were withdrawn from circulation at the end of 1969.
It is thought that one £100 mint bag of 800 1943 half crowns (or two bags at most) had not been sent back and was released into circulation by the Central Bank in the early 1950s.
Check out O’Reilly’s next monthly auction on Wednesday March 25th. One of these elusive 1943 Irish half crowns is on offer with a modest guide price of €150 - €250.