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Richard I Silver Penny Realizes $14,209

On July 3 Dix, Noonan & Webb’s sold Part 2 of Marvin Lessen’s remarkable North Moors Collection of Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Plantagenet hammered silver. Results were impressive.

The total realized including buyers’ premium was $425,366 with a 100% clearance rate of the 526 lots on offer, testifying to the coins’ quality and desirability, let alone rarity of many. Individual prices-realized were commonly well in excess of upper estimate.

Top price of $14,209 [£11,400] was achieved by an exceptionally rare, 12th century, 1.21 g penny of Richard Coeur-de-Lion (S-1346; N-965). The rarity of this piece comes from it having been struck at Lichfield.

Star of the show: the exceptionally rare, 1.21 g penny of Richard I (S-1346; N-965) once owned by Charles Francis Adams. In gF it realized $14,209 at Dix Noonan Webb’s July sale of Part 2 of Marvin Lessen’s North Moors Collection. Like all of Richard’s coins struck in England the obverse legend carries the name of his father, HENRICUS. Images courtesy DNW.

Prior to King Richard’s departure for Palestine on his crusade in 1189 he granted a pair of dies and a moneyer to Bishop Hugh de Nonant of Coventry. These were to be used at Lichfield. Just four coins are known from this mint all struck from the same dies. Two are in institutional collections.

The present piece is believed to have been acquired by Charles Francis Adams while serving as U.S. ambassador in London in the 1860s. It was subsequently donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Adams’ son in 1913. In 1971 it was sold by Stack’s and subsequently by Alex Malloy in July 1972 to Marvin Lessen.

Described in the DNW catalog as, “Flat in parts, otherwise good fine and toned” it carried a conservative estimate of £3,000-4,000. Like all of Richard’s coins struck in England the obverse bears the name of his father HENRICUS.

The rarity being promoted pre-sale was a 10th century 1.29 g penny of Edward the Martyr (S-1142; N-763). It was an example of the only coin type known for Edward who was assassinated at Corfe in 978 just three years after coming to the throne.

Well centered EF rarity: silver penny of Edward the Martyr (S-1142; N-763) struck in the late 8th century that fetched $11,964. Note the spelling of the king’s name: EADWARD. Images courtesy DNW.

A well-centered coin it grades a desirable EF. On an estimate of £4,000-5,000 it sold for almost double upper estimate or $11,964 [£9,600].

The short reign of Henry IV (1399-1413) provided two high rollers: one from his heavy coinage and one from his light of 1412-13. The latter consisted of a very rare, 3.68 g, secondary series, class A groat showing “stunted” lettering and an ‘emaciated’ bust. This type is commonly cataloged under Henry V (S-1759; N-1385) but has been assigned by Stewart to Henry IV (p.323).

‘Emaciated’ bust: the portrait on this groat of Henry IV, or maybe the coin is that of his son Henry V, is quite distinctive. England’s monarch does not appear to be a happy camper (S-1759; N-1385). In VF the coin  realized $8,224, two-and-a-half times upper estimate. Images courtesy DNW.

The superb provenance of the specimen on offer dates back to 1854 and in VF realized $8,224 [£6,600] on a £2,000-2,600 estimate.

From Henry’s heavy coinage came a very rare, 2.28 g halfgroat struck at London (S-1718; N-1346). Only seven heavy true half groats are known from Henry’s reign of which three are in institutions. Given the coin’s VF condition and its excellent providence it had no problems in selling in excess of its £3,000- 4,000 estimate for $6,230 [£5,000].

Notable among the prices-realized for seven other silver coins fetching in excess of $5,000 was a 1.00 g, Cross Moline penny of Matilda struck at Cardiff (S-1326; N-936). It had been originally sourced from the Coed-y-Wenallt (Glamorgan) Hoard found in 1980 and was later sold to Lessen in 1982 by Spink.

Silver sleeper: the Cross Moline penny of Matilda struck at Cardiff (S-1326; N-936) that took over five times its upper estimate or $6,280 in F. Part of the Empress’s name can be made out on the crude obverse. Images courtesy DNW.

Described as “Crack repaired, legends mostly flat, otherwise fine, portrait better, rare” it raced away to take $6,280 [£5,040] or over five times the £900 upper estimate.

Full catalog details and prices-realized can be sourced at www.dnw.co.uk. The prices shown here have been converted at a rate of GBP1.00 = USD1.25.

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