Ireland became a free state in 1922 and in 1926 moved to form a monetary system and coinage committee. The committee agreed to utilizing the sterling monetary system instead of establishing their own national currency. Though one can only assume that this decision was based on the stability and familiarity of British coinage at that time. The committee also determined that all coinage would feature the national symbol, the Irish Harp, and an animal to reflect their agricultural economy. The sterling would remain the standard unit until 1970 when the monetary system was switched to a decimal based coinage.
One fine example of Irish sterling coinage is the Irish Florin or 2 Shillings coin. Produced from 1928 to 1968, the Florin had a silver composition from 1928 to 1943 and would later have a copper/nickel composition from 1951 to 1968.
The main obverse design features the Irish Harp separating the date. From 1928 to 1937 the obverse featured the legend “SAORSTAT EIREANN” or Irish Free State. This legend would later be shortened to just “EIRE” or Ireland beginning in 1939.
The reverse was designed by Percy Metcalfe and features a Salmon. Below the salmon design is the denomination “FLORIN 2S” note that the 2S is the abbreviation for 2 Shillings. Below the salmon's tail are the designers initials “PM”
Types & Varieties
Type 1 - Composition of 75% silver 1928 to 1943. Of note here is that the decision to switch composition to copper nickel was actually made prior to 1943 but some 1943 silver issues were released into circulation.
Type 2 - Composition of copper/nickel 1951 to 1969
|Old Legend||New Legend|
Variety 1 - Old obverse legend 1928 to 1937
Variety 2 - New obverse legend, Type 1 composition 1939 to 1943
Variety 3 - New obverse legend, Type 2 composition 1951 to 1969
General Market Notes
For years that may be potential sleepers look at the 1940, 1941, and 1942 issues.
For the investor, the key to the series (excluding proofs & errors) is the 1943 issue. The semi-keys are the 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934 & 1937 issues. For those interested in the 1943 issue, it is important to know that many fakes & counterfeits exist. One of the most popular tricks is to modify a 1941 issue by soldering a “3” onto the date. It is highly recommended to certify these coins prior to purchase.