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Spink sells Anglo-Saxon kings’ coins

Forty lots of Anglo-Saxon silver pennies representing All The Kings of England provided a central focus at Spink’s mid-summer London coin and medal sale on July 15. The delightful and historically important collection held special meaning for Team Spink.

The top price for this collection of $11,232 was paid for a Wessex penny of Aethelred I (865/6-871) struck with Canterbury dies by Torhtmund. A scarce type it came graded EF. Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

The top price for this collection of $11,232 was paid for a Wessex penny of Aethelred I (865/6-871) struck with Canterbury dies by Torhtmund. A scarce type it came graded EF. Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

It had begun life in their St. James offices in the 1970s when it was lovingly assembled by a young numismatist, Patrick Finn. He was then relatively new to the Spink staff, having arrived via the British Museum.

The collection’s intent was to have at least one coin of the Kings of Wessex and all England. Where possible examples of each main type were to be included. In the end this was possible solely for the later Anglo-Saxon reigns.

Highest priced Alfred the Great penny c.880-883 struck at London by Tilewine. The reverse shows the London monogram used from 880 following Alfred’s assumption of power over London. Despite the center weaknesses the coin was graded gVF and easily made $10,296.Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

Highest priced Alfred the Great penny c.880-883 struck at London by Tilewine. The reverse shows the London monogram used from 880 following Alfred’s assumption of power over London. Despite the center weaknesses the coin was graded gVF and easily made $10,296.Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

The majority of the collection was sourced from Spink but a proportion came from Seabys. Also included was a select group purchased in 1977 from the sale of the R.P. Mack Collection conducted by Glendining.

For many years All The Kings of England lay forgotten at the back of a safe from where it only recently emerged. This saw it being offered in the July sale. All coins were in superior condition.

Finn chose to start to the collection with a coin of Ecgberht, King of Wessex from 802 to 839. Historians may debate as to whether he should rightfully be called the first king of a united England. However, in 825 and 829 he defeated the kings of neighboring Mercia and subsequently received the submission of the ruler of Northumbria at Dore. This saw The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recognize Ecgberht as Bretwalda, i.e., “Ruler of Britain.”

Whatever the thoughts of academics on this matter might be, Anglo-Saxon collectors queued to get Ecgberht’s penny. The 1.42 g coin stuck c. 828-39 at the Canterbury mint had no difficulty in reaching $5,990.

Penny of Ecgberht c. 828-839, struck at the Canterbury Mint by Tidbearht showing a draped and diademed bust; $5,990 in gvF. Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

Penny of Ecgberht c. 828-839, struck at the Canterbury Mint by Tidbearht showing a draped and diademed bust; $5,990 in gvF. Image courtesy of and © Spink UK.

Alfred The Great’s fame might have suggested that one of his coins would top the sale. Certainly it was a photo of a superb Alfred penny that accompanied the pre-sale media release. In the event Alfred was beaten to top spot by his older brother Aethelred whose 1.20 g silver penny struck with Canterbury dies made a massive $11,232 putting it well in excess of double estimate.

Alfred had two coins in the sale. A 1.54 g London monogram type that made $10,296 while a 1.49 g Guthrum type struck with Mercian dies managed $4,056.

Other high fliers included:

Aethelstan (924-939) 1.62 g, London, crowned bust: $8,986;

Fascinating Facts, Mysteries, & Myths about U.S. Coins is an informative read for any collector interested in the history of some important coins.

Fascinating Facts, Mysteries, & Myths about U.S. Coins is an informative read for any collector interested in the history of some important coins.

Edward the Martyr (975-978) 1.29 g, Stamford, draped bust: $8,424;

Harold I (1035-1040) 1.06 g, Chester, jeweled cross: $4,087;

Harthacnut (1040-1042) 1.17 g, Lincoln, draped bust: $5,242.

Last but by no means least came a 1066 Pax penny of Harold II. It romped to a most comfortable $5,990 which placed it well in excess of its upper estimate.

All told the Kings of England realized $98,323.

Visit https://www.spink.com/ for details. The lot numbers for the collection are 320 to 359.

A 20 percent buyers’ premium has been added to the prices cited with the British pound at $1.556.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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