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1723 WOOD'S HIBERNIA FARTHING
IN SILVER

Obverse of 1723 Wood's Hibernia Farthing in Silver      Reverse of Obverse of 1723 Wood's Hibernia Farthing in Silver

Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

Recent appearances:
PCGS MS-65. 
Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23 & 24, 2002, Lot 24, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "PCGS graded MS-65. Brilliant, prooflike surfaces with brighter silver devices offset by darker gold toning atop the mirror fields. A few flecks of blue near some of the lettering and devices are noted. Medallic in strike, with no signs of weakness even on the highest devices, each of which retains minute details. Examination will locate trivial handling ticks, but not enough to keep this from the gem class, and this may be the finest known example of this important pattern issue. It is the finest graded by PCGS, and alone as the only MS-65 graded. As to the variety, note the usual small die crack from the tip of the bust into the rim below, and DE are well clear of the head, while I touches. Nearly identical to the Norweb coin (Bowers & Merena, 11/15/88:3447) but this apparently a different coin as the toning and surfaces don't match up to the photo of the Norweb. A small hoard of these turned up in England in 1971, but many great collections still lack an example. While PCGS considers the silver coins of this issue to be mint state, they have traditionally been called "proof" for the past several generations. Regardless of the terminology, this is a beautiful coin worthy of the finest collection in the land.
There is an intriguing story behind the Hibernia coinage. King George I signed a Royal Patent on June 16, 1722, authorizing William Wood to coin copper halfpence and farthings for Ireland (this is the same William Wood who also received a patent for coinage of Rosa Americana coinage a few weeks later). However, the King's mistress, Ehrengarde Melusina, Dutchess of Munster and Kendal and commonly referred to as "The Maypole" stole this document (and the patent for the Rosa Americana coinage) as soon as the King signed and sealed it, then the Maypole ransomed each document to Wood for 10,000 (equal to over $500,000 today).
Wood paid the ransom to the King's Whore, then struck coins in earnest. Upon the coins unexpected arrival in Ireland, both houses of the Irish Parliament took the lightweight halfpence and farthing as insults. The old standard of 46 halfpence to the pound had been changed to 60 to the pound under Wood's Royal Patent. Thus, the Irish Parliament petitioned the Crown to revoke the authorization, not only because of the lightweight coins, but also because of the shenanigan of the Maypole in the affair. Wood himself added fuel to the blazing fire by letting his thoughts be known in the October 8, 1723 issue of the Flying Post. Thereafter, no Irish person would accept the coins, and they did not circulate. All this excitement caught the eye of Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels and other books) who began a systematic smear campaign against Wood (Breen). Wood continued the fight, saying he would "cram his brass down their throats", to which followed accusations of bribery, debasement and fraud against the people of Ireland.
The battle to force his coinage on the people of Ireland was lost, and Wood resigned his patent in 1725. The invisible hand of commerce then acted, and speculators bought up the coins for close to bullion value, and shipped them to the American Colonies where copper coinage was greatly needed, and they circulated here for generations to come."

PCGS MS-63 (illustrated above).  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 1006, where it was described as follows: "Breen-173 (Very Rare) Dei Gratia close. PCGS MS63. Bright silvery gray with delicate bluish steel toning in protected areas. The fields are nicely reflective and this piece may actually be a proof strike, although PCGS has assigned a Mint State grade. The only marks are some very light hairlines in the fields. There are 11 harpstrings and a die crack passes from the tip of the bust down to the rim."