The July 3 sale of the second tranche of Anglo-Saxon and Viking coins from the Williams collection was another triumph for Spink. These were the coins of Alfred the Great, Aethelred the Unready, Eric Bloodaxe and Harold Bluetooth, among others. Quality was to the fore, and the 253 lots realized a total of $645,374 [£486,696], or $2,551 a coin.
Eric Bloodaxe led from the front with an extremely rare 1.28 g Hiberno-Norse sword-type penny from his second reign (S-1030). Bidders were undeterred by substantial edge chips, and the coin romped away to take $39,788 [£30,000] on a £15,000-£20,000 estimate. After all, it is just the third sword-type penny of Eric Bloodaxe to be offered in the last 60 years.
A little way back came an Anglo-Saxon classic: an Alfred the Great 1.50 g, London monogram/portrait-type penny (S-1061). There would appear to be insufficient of these gems to satisfy demand. In a desirable gVF, it was bid up to $30,244 [£22,800], or more than three times catalog on a £6,000-£8,000 estimate.
Aethelred II, a.k.a. The Unready, produced an example of the very rare 1.53 g Agnus Dei type penny struck at Malmesbury (S-1156).
As the Spink catalog observes: “The Agnus Dei is one of the most enigmatic coins ever to be issued in these islands.” They are unique among English coins of this period in that the conventional portrait on the obverse and cross on the reverse design is replaced by ultra-religious symbolism: the Lamb of God and a Dove.
Only 21 of these pennies are known, with just three in private hands. This perhaps explains why the one that went up for bids had no difficulty in fetching $28,683 [£21,600], or over double upper estimate in aVF.
Other seriously priced and extremely rare lots included a penny of Berhtwulf of Mercia (S-935) that achieved $19,122 [£14,400], or almost three times upper estimate in gVF, and a superb Hiberno-Norse raven-type issue of Anlaf Guthfrithsson of York (S-1019) that exceeded double upper estimate, taking $13,545 [£10,200] in gVF.
Full catalog details and hammer prices are available from www.spink.com.
A premium of 20 percent has been included in all prices shown. These have been converted at a rate of one British pound = U.S.$1.326.
The sale of Part III of the Williams Collection is scheduled for Sept. 25.
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More Collecting Resources
• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700 is your guide to images, prices and information on coins from so long ago.
• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800.