IRELAND. Charles I. 1625-1649. AR siege twopence. .93 gm. 14 mm. Ormonde Siege coinage. (1643). C ◆ R crowned, ◆ in the field left. Crown; left arch touches inner circle; C: thicker lines, top serif curves outward, lower part ends in a blunt point. R: thicker lines, extended leg does not cross inner circle, ends in a curve / II, small D above, all within inner circle; thick numerals, slightly out-of line with one another, small D above; all within inner circle. S. 6550. D&F 311. Very Fine; well centered on a generous flan; slight roughness; overall attractive and very rare.
Purchased during a visit to Seaby in the 1990s.
Arguably one of the finest known; the piece in the 2000 Millenial sale (Whytes) has been heavily scored on the obverse; the Lockett piece is very small with the arches of the crown reaching the edge of the coin on what is essentially an undersized flan. Among the few other examples I found offered in the last decade this one combines the best centering and completeness of detail as much or more than any other including the Stack's Tallent piece (April 2008) which sold for $4000. That piece was partly struck off the flan and the obverse crown was cruder.
The Ormonde Siege Coinage of 1643-1644
Royalist issue in Ireland during The Great Rebellion
Why so many varieties and next to no efforts to classify the types? I have been puzzling over this ever since we began working with Bruce Ormond’s collection. You can see the result—awkward efforts to describe die varieties for the pieces listed in this sale.
Compared to most other British coin series, little has been written about this extensive Irish issue.
• James Simon in his Essay (Dublin, 1810) devotes a bit over a half page to the issue commenting that “It appears…that his majesty still designed to restore the royal mint in Dublin, but that it was prevented by the troubles in England.” After listing the denominations he quotes a 1743 publication that “About one hundred and twenty thousand pounds worth of plate was coined at this time.” The amount of coinage minted and the great variety of dies suggest that the dies had short lives.
• Lindsay in his 1839 Coinage of Ireland devotes one brief paragraph to the series.
• The Spink Standard Catalog, Coins of Scotland, Ireland and the Islands… gives the series two thirds of one page, a single line introduction, a list of one each of the denominations and, at the bottom in small print, a single line note: “For varieties, see Aquilla Smith, ‘On the Ormonde Money.’ PRSAI (1854)
This series shows great variation in the size and nature of each of the main elements of the coin. I have gone through a substantial number of images of Ormonde pieces and can see why no one (apparently) has ever done any kind of die study. If you look up the Aquilla Smith article you will see a single page of drawn images related to the series but no effort to create a listing of variations.
I have spent hours reviewing images of Ormonde pieces that have been offered over the past few years. At best, the parameters I have come up with are general: are the design elements thick or thin, small or tall, within or breaching the inner circle, punctuated or not. Is the placement of the elements in relation to one another centered (or “plumb”). There are broken dies, and many uneven strikes.
The variation is fascinating in itself and like much else in the Irish series, it speaks volumes about life and the Irish economy at the time. The collection offered here was put together by a descendant of the original Ormonde. In addition to representing all the denominations (including the extremely rare twopence), the group gives you an introduction to the variety of dies and strikings in the series.
Ormonde weight standards (just under Tower standards):
Crown: (456 grn) 29.55 gm Half crown: (228 grn) 14.8 gm Shilling: (91.2 grn) 5.9 gm Sixpence: (45.6 gr) 2.95 gm Groat: (30.4 grn) 1.97 gm Threepence: (22.2 grn)1.43 gm Twopence: (15.2 grn) .98 gm
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