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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Earliest Irish Money

CNG 91, Lot: 1572. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $4000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IRELAND, Celtic Ring Money. Circa 1200-100 BC. AV (32mm, 3.68 g). Twisted Wire type. Twisted loop of metal, with pain, pointed, and tapered ends which do not touch. Van Arsdell 1-1; ABC -; SCBC p. 103. EF. Very rare and a most attractive example.

Ex Innisfree Collection (purchased privately from Mike Vosper, May 2001).

Prior to the use of regular round struck or cast coinage, the Celts employed items of various shapes and metals for trade. Although not conclusively identified as an early form of money, these rings have been found in coin hoards and do bear some resemblance to other Celtic objects accepted as "proto-money", such as small bronze or potin wheels. R.D. Van Arsdale, in his book Celtic Coins in Britain, notes that precious-metal rings such as this "may have had multiple functions; as items of personal adornment (many were hair ornaments), as a means of displaying wealth, and as a medium of exchange. The weights and diameters vary, making it difficult to establish whether denominations existed."