The coins and tokens of Ireland offer a glimpse into the storied past of a land and people subjugated by foreign invaders
throughout much of that time. This island just over 25,000 square miles with less than five million people today, claims over seventy
million people world wide making up the Irish diaspora.
The lack of a national coinage and the English Crowns ability to control coinage to Ireland in effect could and did stymie the Irish economy
so as not to affect English commerce negatively. Irish tokens, though used successfully in local commerce, helped prevent travel within Ireland
by it's people far from their place of birth since token acceptance and redemption value decreased as the distance from the point of issue increased.
A similar situation took place here in the U.S. when turn of the century coal companies used scrip to pay workers, thus assuring they would deal
with the company stores.
The Irish linen industry of the 1700's was a prime example of the economic tactics the English used to control Irish
development. As the Irish linen merchants began to surpass the English linen trade a number of steps were taken to assure competition from it's colony
didn't hurt the mother country's businesses. A major step was to drastically reduce coinage to prevent the Irish economy from functioning with any degree
With the preponderance of coins and tokens, especially in the last two centuries, depicting a harp, though since 1928, the crown has been removed
from the top, Irish numismatics can present a challenging and varied field especially as you search out the metallic remnants of the earliest years
of the millennium.
Ireland has been impoverished for much of it's history and it's coinage relatively limited. For example, probably only 2,000 Bracteates
of the early 12th century survive to this day and more than half that number are already impounded in museum collections, thus limiting collectors wishing
to add one of these early pieces to their holdings. Still to this date the number of Irish collectors has not increased dramatically despite the rise of
the Celtic tiger, so you may want to consider putting together a group of these intriguing coins while they are still relatively inexpensive.