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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 12, March 19, 2006, Article 14

BOOK REVIEW: FOR WANT OF GOOD MONEY

On March 14 Roger Moore published a nice book review on the
Colonial Numismatics Yahoo group sponsored by the Colonial
Coin Collectors Club (C-4).  With permission I'm reprinting
an edited version here:

Roger writes: "Well, I have spent the last week reading another
numismatic book that was suggested to this group months ago.
The book is called “FOR WANT OF GOOD MONEY” by Edward Colgan.
The book is a must for collectors of Irish coins and world coins.
It gives a complete accounting of coins minted in or for Ireland
dating from about 997 AD to the twentieth century.

However, unlike most numismatic books which provide long lists
of the types, varieties, denominations and years for coins, this
is a concise history of Ireland based on the coinage production
at each key turn of Irish history.  To be honest, I think it is
one of the clearest and most concise histories of Ireland I have
seen with a discussion of what transpired to cause each coinage
to evolve.  My main criticism is it did not go into enough detail
and left me wanting to know more about each age.  Because it is
crammed full of facts, it is not an easy read.  I did go cover
to cover but not with a lot of ease.  I think it is better as a
quick referral book.

In regard to the Saint Patrick coinage, which is the reason I
bought the book in the first place, it turns out that a number
of the earlier Irish coinages had Saint Patrick on the coins.
Specifically, between 1185 and 1205 Lord John de Courcy, who had
a personal devotion to Saint Patrick, had a series of silver
farthings and halfpence coined with the image of Saint Patrick
on one side.  Therefore, the use of Saint Patrick’s image on
Irish coins was not outlandish in the 1600s since it had been
done prior to that time.

Fast forward to the mid 1600s after the great rebellion, we
find that Ireland was severely restricted in the amount of
circulating coins.  This lead to a huge outpouring of trade
tokens (some 800 different varieties minted in 170 cities).
It is in this environment that any coinage, even light weight
counterfeits, were welcome.  A description of the Newby Saint
Patrick coinage is placed in this context without definitive
definition of the exact timing or place of its production.

I am glad I have this book in my library.  I will probably
forget the huge numbers of historic facts given in the book
by early next week.  However, I now have an easy reference to
all Irish coinages should I want to look something up!!"

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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