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James II, Irish halfpenny

This is another of Stephen Palmer’s finds. It’s an Irish halfpenny of James II. Anyone who has been detecting regularly for a good number of years will have unearthed a high number of copper and bronze halfpennies. The majority will be English but a few will be Irish.

I’ve been detecting for not far short of 25 years and have unearthed hundreds of copper halfpennies, most of which are from the reigns of George II and III. The total includes about a dozen Irish coins of the same reigns. Irish half pennies were also struck for Charles II, James II, William and Mary and William III; over the years I have found one Charles II halfpenny but none from any of the other reigns listed above. Therefore, all this suggests that Stephen’s find is quite rare.

This halfpenny is dated 1691 and is listed in Coins of Scotland Ireland and the Islands as number 6594. After the defeat on 1 July 1690 of an army loyal to James II, Limerick continued to hold out for the king. Halfpence like the specimen featured here were struck on the larger type of gunmoney shillings whilst Limerick was under siege. These would prove to be the last coins struck in the name of King James II.

I’ve mentioned that Irish halfpennies do turn up as detecting finds in England. However, all those I’ve unearthed have been in a shocking state; all have been very worn and/or badly corroded. .

The legend on the obverse of Stephen’s find should read IACOBVS II DEI GRATIA but the last word has come out as ACATIA. This is because when a gunmoney shilling was over-struck with dies for a halfpenny the operation didn’t quite manage to obliterate the whole of the original obverse legend.



Apart from the fault in the legend, this coin is only slightly worn and would grade VF for the issue. The only thing that might put off collectors is its pale green colour, as most enthusiasts would prefer a bronze of brassy colour. Having pointed out a couple of minus points, the overall condition is good enough for a collector to pay £80 – £100 for this James II Irish halfpenny.

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