One of the “most significant finds of 17th century gold coins” ever
found in Ireland was recently discovered during reconstruction at a
pub in Tipperary.
The hoard of 81 gold coins was announced Jan. 29 by the National
Museum of Ireland, which has custody of the coins as hoard contents
are examined. The hoard was discovered Jan. 14 and consists of gold
coins, mostly guineas but some half guineas. The coins were issued
during the reigns of Charles II, James II, William and Mary, and
William III, meaning the coins date from about 1660 to 1702.
The coins were apparently concealed in soil under the pub’s
floorboards and were spotted by one of the builders while carrying out
work, according to a statement from the museum. The coins are reported
to have been found “in a line together” and may have been at first
wrapped and held together by some material that did not survive.
The museum is not answering questions about the hoard and its
discovery, pointing to a press release about the matter. Irish media
reported that the spot where the coins were found was under an old pub
building that had been damaged by fire. The coins were turned over to
local authorities before being sent to the national museum in Dublin.
The guinea is a British gold coin minted between 1663 and 1814.
The coins were in four denominations (half-, 1-, 2- and 5-guinea
pieces). They are called guineas because the gold used to make some of
them came from West Africa.
Seamus Lynam, acting director of the National Museum, said no
comparable 17th century hoard of gold coins has been found in Ireland
since the discovery of around 100 gold and silver coins in
Portarlington, County Laois, in 1947, according to a statement from
the South Tipperary County Museum.
Marie McMahon, curator at the South Tipperary County Museum, told
the Belfast Telegraph that the coins in the 2013 discovery are mostly
in “fantastic condition,” with a few buckled or tarnished. “They’d be
incredibly valuable but legally we would not be allowed to discuss
that,” she told the newspaper.
Extremely Fine examples of the guineas would be worth an estimated
£5,500 to £7,500 each, according to Coins of England & the
United Kingdom (2011 edition), giving the 81 coins a very rough
estimated value somewhere between £445,000 and £600,000 (about
$694,000 to $935,859 U.S.).
The site where the gold coins was discovered has subsequently been
investigated by archaeologists from the National Museum of Ireland and
the National Monuments Service. The National Museum is conducting
further research into the coins and their historical background. ■