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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Cities of Refuge

CNG 91, Lot: 1585. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IRELAND, The Great Rebellion. Issues of the 'Cities of Refuge'. 1642-1649. Square Æ Farthing (9x8mm, 0.84 g). Bandon Bridge issue. Struck 1645-1647. (Retrograde B)·B within beaded border / [Three castle turret within beaded border]. D&F 316; SCBC 6560. Near VF for issue. Extremely rare.

From the Innisfree Collection. Ex Spink Numismatic Circular XCIV.3 (April 1986), no. 2499.

Following the increase in racial and religious discrimination against the native Irish population during the first third of the seventeenth century, an open rebellion exploded in October 1641 as two Protestant Lords Justices had prevented the Irish parliament from passing a bill which would have alleviated Catholic grievances. Though the rebel forces failed in their attempt to seize Dublin Castle, they quickly found success at Ulster, whence the rebellion spread around the countryside. Following the outbreak of civil war between King Charles and the English parliament the next year in 1642, the rebel forces of Irish Catholics gave their support to the King, further placing them at odds with the English Protestants.

Responding to the acts of the Lords Justices, the Irish Catholics established their own council, the Catholic Confederacy at Kilkenny in 1642, as well as their own coinage during this rebellious period. Imitating royal designs, they halfcrowns, halfpence, and farthings – the so-called ‘Blacksmiths’ Money’ due to their crude manufacture. Following these centrally-produced issues, many of the ‘Cities in Refuge’ joined in coining their own local minor currency, often cruder than the Blacksmiths Money or even appearing as a counterstamp upon another coinage.