The small planchet St. Patrick coppers are founds some 120 different die varieties! To simplify matters I have categorized these small sized coppers into two basic types: those that have no images or designs below the kneeling David and a second type that do have some image or design below the figure of David. The categories and observations that follow are based only on the examples I have at hand. They are not meant to be a classification for the entire series but only a way of ordering the examples in our collection.
Obverse - Based on the examples in our collection I have discovered that most (but not all) coppers of the two types mentioned above differ is certain characteristics. Note that the harp has a bust on the outside frame nearest the legend. At the bottom of the bust the harp appears to bow outward close to a letter of the legend, on type one examples this bow is usually at the O in FLOREAT. Also the round head on the harp is usually in line with the letter E. On type two coppers the outward bow in the harp at the bottom of the bust is close to the letter F in FLOREAT. The round head on the harp is usually in line with the letter R (some examples have the bow at the L and the head at the E). Also, on type one coins the four triangular points (called spikes in heraldic terminology) of the eastern crown worn by David are usually aligned so that they point up towards the letter R in REX (or just beyond the R) while on type two coins David's crown usually has at least two spikes that are aligned beyond the letter R (often as far as the E). Generally we could say that type two coins have FLOREAT in a higher position and REX with less space between the letters.
Reverse - Based on examples in our collection I have discovered that most (but not all) coppers of a specific type have the following characteristics. Type one coins usually have a short snake to the right of the letter Q in QVIESCAT while type two coins usually have a longer snake that extends under the Q. Also, on the reverse of the coin is a church with a tall steeple that has a cross at the top. On type one coppers the right side of the horizontal bar on the cross usually points to the letter S in PLEBS while on type two coppers the horizontal bar usually points to the letter B. Generally it appears type two coins have longer snakes and crosses that extend further up the legend area.
Within these two basic types there are several punctuation varieties and within a specific punctuation variety there can be numerous dies. Individual dies can be detected by difference in the style or position of specific letters. One can also detect changes in the figures and in the relative position of the figures to the legends. Occasionally unusual letter size or position has been noted in the descriptions below. Also, the relative position of certain features have been mentioned. In addition to those listed above as distinguishing the two types of coppers I have also mentioned deviations from the following items on the reverse. St. Patrick's outstretched hand usually points directly to the I in QVIESCAT. The position of the hand has been noted when it deviates from this location, it may go as high as the E in QVIESCAT. The location of the two crosses on Patrick's miter relative to the letters T (at the end of QVIESCAT) and P (at the start of PLEBS) in the legend will shift. When they are somewhat centered in the open space between the two words I have not commented but I do note if the crosses are under a letter or very close to a letter. Finally, the position of the Metropolitan cross on the top of St. Patrick's staff will vary in relation to the legend. Usually it will point toward the E in PLEBS. On some dies the top of the staff may point as high as the L in PLEBS (type 1, section 1, number 2) while in other dies it may point as low as between the E and B (as type 2, section 1, number 2). Examples in the type 1, section 3 are ordered to show the movement of the staff. Again, these differences are mentioned to assist in detecting specific dies.
I shall begin with Type 1 coppers (examples that have nothing below David). The first section has the most common obverse punctuation for this type found in our collection of :REX: followed by a second section of varied punctuation and a third section without punctuation.
Next are what I am calling Type 2 coppers (examples that have some design under David). Section one has examples with a martlet (a flightless heraldic bird) and two small rings in the shape of an 8. The other two sections have examples with geometric designs below David sometimes called dolphins, sea beasts, land or lines. I do not know why they would be considered dolphins or sea beasts. As these designs look more like land or islands than lines I shall use the term land to designate these designs. Note that a similar design is used for land under Patrick on the obverse of all examples of this coin. Section two is limited to those examples of type two coins that also have the most common punctuation after REX found in our collection that is, three dots in the shape of a triangle listed here as REX :. The final section, section three, has examples of coins with land under David and various punctuation after REX from stars to a stop to a colon or no punctuation at all. Also, the reverse of item two in this section has an extra pig to the right of Patrick. Some examples are known that have as many as four pigs.
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