Auction items 

Rare 1927 Star Irish Pattern Penny at auction in London

A rare penny for Ireland’s first coin soared at the Ten Noonan Webb auction on March 3 in London.

The 1927 model penny fetched £17,360 (US$23,153) including 24% acquisition costs, against an estimate of £4,000-5,000 (US$5,335-6,668).

The design features a design by Roman sculptor Publio Morbiducci, who was among a list of artists from around the world invited to submit designs as part of a competition to dress the 1928 Irish coin series.

The list of guest artists included Ivan Mestrovic, Paul Manship and James Earl Fraser (who declined to participate), according to WB Yeats and the design of Irish coinagepublished in 1972 by the Irish Government, with an introduction by Brian Cleves.

Design competition details

All designers were tasked with depicting the same theme, a list of barnyard animals, as determined by the Irish Coinage Committee. The bronze penny was to feature a harp on the obverse and hens and chickens on the reverse.

Morbiducci did not win the competition and the exact number of designs depicting his designs is unknown, according to Dix Noonan Webb, although in 1976 only three design coins existed in bronze, the firm said.

The winner was Percy Metcalfe, whose designs have graced rooms for decades.

The Morbiducci model was part of a collection built up between 1972 and 1978 and was offered for the first time at auction.

The majority of the coins in the sale were acquired by collectors from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and this coin was also purchased by an Irish collector.

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