How 3D printing brought Ireland's original coin designs to life

coin shot

Developing a currency from scratch is not an easy task. But back in 1926 Ireland set out to do just that - design new coins for a new state.

Today, decades later, the story of the first modern Irish currency has been brought to life using the latest technology in an exhibition at the Central Bank of Ireland.

Central Bank Campaign Specialist Ciara Lawler and curator Padraig Clancy faced a challenge in telling the tale of the coin design competition, overseen by poet and then senator WB Yeats back in the 1920s.

Said Ciara: “The National Museum has all the original designs but it wasn’t feasible to use them in the exhibition. We hit on using 3D printing to make replicas, 66 in total, and it’s worked out really well.”

Specialist supplier 3D Printing Ireland scanned the original plaster and wax designs and printed them using a hard resin. “The technology gave us scope to enhance the detailing of the originals so visitors can appreciate the workmanship that went into creating them,” said Ciara.

“It means people can touch them. They can imagine what the coins might have looked like if the coinage committee had gone in a different direction.”

The Pounds, Shillings and Independence exhibition, celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Currency Commission, and tells the fascinating story of how Ireland’s most well-loved coins featuring the hare, the salmon, the horse came to be.

It’s just one of two exhibitions at the Central Bank - also on show is the "The Story of the Central Bank of Ireland".

The Visitor Centre at the Central Bank’s Dockland Campus at North Wall Quay is open to the public Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 16:00. Closed Bank Holidays. Admission is free.

See the Central Bank website for more details on how you can visit the exhibitions