The Collection of Irish Ten-Shilling Notes, 1928-68, formed by the late Anthony Lenny

The Collection of Irish Ten-Shilling Notes, 1928-68, formed by the late Anthony Lenny

Anthony Lenny (1924 - 2013)

Joseph Anthony (Tony) Lenny was well known and liker in the numismatic community with his particular emphasis on collecting Irish banknotes. Born in 1924 in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, he spent his childhood there, the eldest of six. He moved to Dublin area to attend college, where he met his wife of 59 years and the love of his life, Dympna Flanagan. He gave Dympna a gold sovereign and a silver crown on their wedding day. During his career, he worked as an executive at the Iriush Grain Board and at R & H Hall plc in Dublin, Ireland’s largest importer and supplier of grains and cereals.

A family man, the Lennys settled in Bray, Co Wicklow, where they raised a family of five children and maintained a wool shop on Main Street. Tony had a great appreciation for music and enjoyed horse racing, opening two betting shops in Dublin city centre and in Bray. If he was not poring over the latest edition of World Paper Money, one might bump into him walking the seafront promenade in Bray or he could be found scouring the racing pages of the newspaper trying with mixed results to pick the winner of the 3:20 at Cheltenham or Goodwood, all while tunes from the 1930s and 1940s were playing on his trusted transistor radio.

Tony's passion for collecting coins and banknotes spanned over five decades. He began by
collecting coins, in the early years even looking for interesting specimens in the cash register of the family shop. He was a regular attendee at the Dublin coin fairs at the Shelbourne Hotel and at the RDS. In the 1960s, after meeting banknote collector Iorwerth (Yorry) Hopkins who would become and remain his dear friend, Tony's interest broadened into banknotes, with a focus on Irish notes and also African notes whose vibrant colours and intricate designs appealed to his aesthetics.

Tony knew and maintained contact with collectors and dealers all over the world, sharing
ideas and relentlessly trying to improve his collections. His approach to collecting was to first search for dates in his collections that he was missing, with additional attention to serial numbers that appealed to him, then subsequently scouring the globe to acquire examples in better condition, always fine tuning his collection. He spent over 40 years improving this Irish 10-shilling note collection, acquiring the best condition notes he could of 230 of the 231 dates issued. Opinion differs over whether the one exception, 15 May 1945, actually exists or not.

With his keen sense of humour, more whimsically Tony took great pleasure in minting and
printing errors, unusual markings and codes, or secretive messages purposely incorporated into the design intricacies of certain issues. He made sure he had a mint condition copy of the 100 trillion dollar note of Zimbabwe as a conversation piece of hyper-inflation! He charmed some of the clerks at the Central Bank of Ireland, and the fact that he often brought them small gifts (let's not call it bribery!) ensured that they kept a sharp lookout for and put aside for him newly minted coins and notes of issues and index numbers and collector sets that were of special interest to him. He also collaborated with well-known members of the Irish numismatic community and authors including Derek Young and Martan MacDevitt. Mostly however, he wanted to promote interest in numismatics for the betterment of the subject, and was always willing to share his in-depth knowledge or be a mentor to anyone who expressed an interest in coin and banknote collecting.

In their later years, Tony and Dympna moved to Wicklow town, where he survived Dympna, passing away on 9 April 2013 at the age of 88. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word; a man of deep faith, humble, modest, kind. His 11th grandchild is due October 2017 in California.