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Central Bank were warned of Joyce coin issues


The commemorative James Joyce coin sold out in two days

The Central Bank were aware that there may be copyright issues and design problems with the commemorative €10 James Joyce coin.

The coin hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it was issued last month because an extract from Joyce's Masterpiece Ulysses engraved on the coin was found to contain an extra word.

The erroneous quotation was alongside an image of Joyce which was not approved by his estate, despite this the coin sold out within 48 hours.

A Freedom of Information request from RTE revealed that the Central Bank Numismatic Committee initially wanted to mint a collectors' coin to commemorate Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels to form a part of a Europa series to celebrate European writers.

The Department of Finance urged that Joyce would be a more suitable choice because he has more international appeal. It also noted that "there may be problems with copyright in the case of a Joyce coin", according to the minutes of a meeting between officials from the department and the bank last May.

An internal submission to Minister Michael Noonan suggested other Irish writers as possible options and went on to recommend that Joyce should be the first option and William Butler Yeats should be the second should difficulties arise with the Joyce Estate.

The submission also told the minister that James Joyce had featured on an old Irish £10 note and it added: "We understand that the Central Bank encountered some difficulty in dealing with the Joyce estate at the time".

Kieran McNamee of the Department's Financial Services Division wrote to the head of the Currency Issue Department of the Central Bank, Daragh Cronin, to say that Minister Noonan had agreed in principle that the bank should consider James Joyce as the first choice for the 2013 Europa silver coin, with William Butler Yeats as back-up options should copyright issues arise.

McNamee added that the copyright on Joyce's work expired on January 1, 2012 and asked: "Does this have any relevance to design?"

The reply from the Central Bank is not available as it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Online Editors