Ground-breaking naval engineer Charles Parsons is celebrated on Irelands latest science coin

Not a prolific releaser of precious metal commemoratives, the Central Bank of Ireland issues the occasional coin in celebration of its famous people or historical events and one of the current series is called Irish Science and Inventions. An unusual €15 Euro denomination adorns these coins and this new release featuring the inventor of the steam turbine engine, Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, is the third to appear. The series debuted in 2014 with early submarine pioneer John Holland, followed in 2015 by physicist and Nobel laureate, Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton.

The coin weighs a standard ounce (28.28 grams) and is struck in sterling (0.925) fineness silver. Struck for the first time by German mint B.H.Mayer, instead of the usual Pobjoy Mint, this is easily the most complicated design in the series to date. Instead of going with a symbolic representation of the scientists work, the CBI has chosen to depict the man instead, with a less prominent look at his work behind. Whether that’s the new design ethos moving forward, or simply an acceptance that an engine isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as an atom or a submarine remains to be seen. The artwork efficiently and attractively depicts its subject regardless.

A profile portrait of groundbreaking engineer Parsons takes pride of place on the reverse with a partial look at his incredible steam turbine engine just behind. The portrait by Antonella Napolione looks well done. The mans name and the dates of his birth and death follow the rim to the left, while there’s a very cool turbine design at the same position on the right. The denomination is inscribed here, annoyingly prominent.

The obverse is the traditional Irish one featuring the national harp along with the date and the country name, EIRE. Very clean and classic, there are no complaints here about it. Supplied in a box with a serialised certificate of authenticity, the coin is available now for the price of €60.00. Not well known to enough people, Parsons work on maritime power helped drive the development of ever more powerful warships, including the one that changed battleship design overnight – HMS Dreadnought. An interesting period worth further reading.



This 2017 €15 silver proof coin commemorating the life and works of engineer Sir Charles Algernon Parsons is the third coin in the ‘Irish Science and Inventions’ series. Charles Parsons was born in 1854 and spent most of his childhood at Birr Castle, Co Offaly, his family’s estate. As a child, he was tutored by prominent scientist Robert Ball and later attended Trinity College Dublin and St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Parsons’ invention of the steam turbine engine in 1884 was a major breakthrough in electrical engineering and power generation. Later applying this work to marine propulsion, Parsons’ steam turbines revolutionized marine transportation by increasing both the speed and efficiency of sea-faring vessels. He received many honours in recognition of his engineering genius, including election to the Royal Society in 1898 and a knighthood in 1911. He died in 1931.

The coin design, by Antonella Napolione, features a portrait of the engineer with an early model of his steam turbine engine, encircled by an inscription and a representation of turbine blades. This proof coin comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity. The diameter of this coin is 38.61mm and it weighs 28.28g. The coin is struck in .925 Sterling Silver and is strictly limited to 6,000 pieces.


COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 28.28 grams
DIAMETER 38.61 mm
BOX / COA Yes / Yes