Penny 1971-1988

Penny 1971-1988

On this page, we will tell you all about the first Decimal Irish Penny. Minted between the years 1971-1988.

If this is not what you are looking for, you may be interested in Penny 1990-2000.

A little background about the Penny Coin, The Penny was part of the Decimal 1969-2001 coin series of Ireland. Designed by Gabriel Hayes. Produced between the years 1971 -1988 at the Currency Centre Dublin mint. In total 459,731,750 of these coins were minted.

Coin collecting can be full of unusual terms and phrases. If you are unsure what any of the terms on this page mean, check out our 180 Best Coin Collecting Terms Explained post. Here we explain every term in an easy to understand way.


Identifying Features

The global standard for identifying coins is the KM Code. This Penny coin is by referring to by the KM code KM# 20. The KM code is a unique reference number assigned to each coin.
Below are some other Identifying features, like which Mint the Penny coin was made at as well as some other factors.

Denomination: Penny
KM Code: KM# 20
Coin Series: Decimal 1969-2001
Years Produced: 1971 – 1988
Known Mintage: 459,731,750
Distribution: Standard Circulation
Mint: Currency Centre Dublin

Design Features

Heads or Tails? its a simple question right? Well in coin collecting terms the “heads” of the coin is the Obverse and the “Tails” is the Reverse. So why is this important? What you might call the “heads” side of the coin is actually incorrect. The side with the Harp is actually the Obverse (front) of the coin – I know crazy! In a lot of coins from around the world, this seems to happen. It’s quite common in Irish Coins also.
The design of the Irish Penny coin was based on Celtic style illustrations of Birds from the Book of Kells. An ancient Irish manuscript created by unknown monks around the year 800. The Penny wasn’t alone in drawing inspiration from the Book of Kells. The Half Penny and Two Pence coin also had their design based on birds from the manuscript, below are both of these coins side-by-side.


Irish half penny and two pence coin side by side
halfpenny and two pence Ireland coins
Today the Book of Kells is in Trinity College Dublin and is open to public viewing. Around 1 million people a year go to witness the exhibition. If you want to learn more about the Book of Kells or book a visit to see it, you can do so on the Trinity College Website


Book of Kells Open - Half Penny Example

Themes: Animals (Fauna),Birds,Musical Instruments,Seals (Emblems),Stylized Animals
Designer: Gabriel Hayes
Obverse Description: Irish harp
Reverse Description: Stylized bird and value


Mechanical Features

The Mechanical features of a coin are things like the size and weight for example. Looking at the mechanical features of a coin is the easiest way how to tell if a coin is real or fake.


Weight: 3.5600g
Diameter: 20.3mm
Thickness: 1.52 mm
Rim: Raised. Not decorated. Both sides
Shape: Circular
Edge: Plain



Penny Values


Year & VersionMintageAG3G4VG8F12VF20XF40AU50MS60MS63Proof
1971 Proof50,000----------
1986 Proof6,750----------


This purpose of this website is to educate and entertain, All values shown are a guideline only and should not be used for any means of financial investment or speculation, as with all things values may fluctuate depending on demand and scarcity, we strongly advise that all information on this website is used as it was intended – for entertainment purposes. The information relating to coins is sourced from many places such as NGC, PCGS and The Irish Central Bank.

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