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English coins in spotlight

By Kerry Rodgers

Few present-day collectors of English coins are as eminent as Lord Stewartby. His celebrated Academic Collection of English Coins was assembled over a long and very active numismatic life. It is now being dispersed by Spink through a series of auctions to be held over coming months.

The first took place in London on the morning of March 22. It consisted of Stewartby’s Anglo-Saxon and Norman coins. Many came with impressive provenances, having been acquired from some of the great collections of the past. As Stewartby commented: “The only sad thing about a collection such as this is that it would be impossible for an interested amateur, as I was, to put it together today.”

The first coin to be sold from Lord Stewartby’s Academic Collection of English Coins: the extremely rare and choice gold thrysma or shilling from the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent struck by Eadbald sometime between 620 and 635. It had little difficulty in realizing $84,600 in Spink’s March sale. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

The first coin to be sold from Lord Stewartby’s Academic Collection of English Coins: the extremely rare and choice gold thrysma or shilling from the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Kent struck by Eadbald sometime between 620 and 635. It had little difficulty in realizing $84,600 in Spink’s March sale. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Lot 1 in the sale set the scene for what was to follow. It consisted of a superb gold thrymsa (shilling) of Eadbald of Kent (616-640), S-758. This was the first gold coin to be issued in the name of an English king. Just seven examples are known, five of which are in institutional collections. All show Christian iconography and hence date from after Eadbald’s conversionfrom paganism, somewhere between 620 and 635.

The coin on offer came well-struck and centered although on a slightly irregular flan. Graded EF it raced to four times estimate to sell for $84,600 [£60,000].

Alfred the Great penny showing the Londonia monogram on the reverse, c.880-85. It sold for $15,228 in VF. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Alfred the Great penny showing the Londonia monogram on the reverse, c.880-85. It sold for $15,228 in VF. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Perennially popular but seldom affordable, a rare Londonia monogrammed penny of Alfred the Great of Wessex, S-1061, took second highest price in VF. Admittedly at $15,228 [£10,800] it was behind Eadbald’s gold result.

A portrait of the Empress Matilda occupies the obverse of this rare penny struck during time she spent in England trying to seize the throne from Stephen between 1135 and 1154. It made $14,382 in VF.  Image courtesy and © Spink London.

A portrait of the Empress Matilda occupies the obverse of this rare penny struck during time she spent in England trying to seize the throne from Stephen between 1135 and 1154. It made $14,382 in VF. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

From the 12th century Anarchy came a rare penny of Matilda struck during her time in England, S-1326. With a good portrait, if somewhat obscure legend, it had no problems in reaching $14,382 [£10,200] in VF.

Other prices of note included:

Eadred (946-54) extremely rare halfpenny, S-1120, aVF: $11,844 [£8,400];

Edward the Confessor (1042-66) penny of rare mint and type, S-1185, VF: $11,844 [£8,400];

Queen Cynethryth of Mercia, wife of Offa, features on the obverse of this seldom seen lightweight penny struck before 784. In gVF it took $10,152. Cynethryth is the only Anglo-Saxon queen known to have had coins issued in her name. These are unique in Western Europe for this period. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Queen Cynethryth of Mercia, wife of Offa, features on the obverse of this seldom seen lightweight penny struck before 784. In gVF it took $10,152. Cynethryth is the only Anglo-Saxon queen known to have had coins issued in her name. These are unique in Western Europe for this period. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Cynethryth, wife of Offa of Mercia, very rare penny, S-909, gVF: $10,152 [£7,200].

William I (1066-87) extremely rare two scepters penny, S-1253, aVF: $7,614 [£5,400].

Full details of the sale, including the catalog and prices realized, are available at the Spink website: https://www.spink.com/. A 20 percent buyer’s premium has been added to the prices cited where 1GBP = 1.41USD.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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More Collecting Resources
• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 8th Edition is your guide to images, prices and information on the century’s coins.
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2016 North American Coins & Prices guide.

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