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The Anglo-Saxon gold coins of the Crondall hoard


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In 1828 a hoard of gold coins was found in the small town of Crondall, in Hampshire, England.  This hoard of nearly 100 coins, plus some blanks and a plated forgery, contained the largest amount of early English gold coins ever found in one place.  Even though it has been over 200 years, it remains the only large hoard of these coins found, and in 2022 still contains the majority of the coins of this era that are known.

The coins were owned by the landowner for more than 50 years, until they were sold to the prominent British collector Lord Grantley.  They were auctioned with the rest of his collection in the 1940s, but sold as a single lot.  The British firm Baldwin’s bought the coins and sold them to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford at cost.  The coins remain in the Ashmolean to this day.  Three coin blanks and the plated forgery were lost, but the rest of the coins remain together, a remarkable feat of a hoard almost 200 years old.

The coins are called thrymsas, or tremisses, but the name is probably not contemporary.  Most likely these would have been called shillings or gold pennies.

There are few old hoards that not only represent the material, but also are nearly the only evidence of their coins’ existence.  This is one.  Apart from some single finds, these coins would otherwise be unknown.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of the early thrymsas are only known from this hoard.

It was once postulated that the hoard represented a wergeld, the price paid for a slain freeman.  But this theory no longer holds much interest.  The reason for the hoard is uncertain, but like most hoards it was probably concealment of wealth during a turbulent time.  What a great loss this purse would have been!

Not all of the coins in the hoard were English.  Some were Merovingian or Frisian.  But the majority were English and can be divided into 12 types, thought to be almost certainly of Anglo-Saxon manufacture:

1. Abbo, imitating a Frankish moneyer
2. Witmen moneta, coinage in the name of a moneyer, and it’s derivatives
3. Eadbald, king of Kent
4. LONDVINIV, a facing bust
5. London-derived, a similar idea to the above but with the portrait in profile
6. LEMC, a funky abstract bust reminiscent of Celtic artwork, and those 4 letters on the reverse
7. EAN, a regal bust but with an indecipherable partial name
8. Bust/Lond, with the letters LOND on an otherwise uninterpretable reverse
9. Licinius, a high quality imitation of a Roman coin
10. Bust/cross on steps, a high gold content type with a cross on steps on the reverse
11. Cross/cross, a geometric type of small diameter with two crosses
12. Bust/cross, another type with cross on reverse

The purpose and origin of these various types is not clear.   Only one has an interpretable inscription- that of Eadbald of Kent, which gives us a date range but it is unfortunately fairly large- 616-640.  It is known that Eadbald was born Christian, reverted to the traditional Germanic religion, then became a Christian once more some time after he became king, thus we tend to date the coins to the 630-640 range.  The coins are thought to be of a similar era but do differ somewhat in metal content.  This difference is however even seen in coins from the same die pairing, so it is perhaps less useful to interpret the coinage.  Several other types are known which may be contemporary with the Crondall coins, but for whatever reason were not in the hoard.

So what we are left with is an interesting group of coins with funky imagery, loosely connected to southern England and in particular to the petty kingdom of Kent, but without clear evidence of strong central royal or ecclesiastical control over mintage.  All packaged on a ~11mm flan and weighing just a hair above 1g.

To collect thrymsas of this era is a very challenging task, and will quickly deplete your wallet.  Even with all the money in the world, these coins are near impossible to find.  Of the above types, only the Witmen type has more than 10 examples out there for collectors.  Thus this is quite possibly the greatest challenge for any collector of English coins, to put together any sort of representative collection of these coins. Other coins may be more expensive, but few have such rarity as a type.

Several types are unobtainable.  There are no examples of the coins of Abbo, LEMC, Licinius, bust/Lond, or bust/cross outside of the Crondall hoard.  Most of the other types, again excepting the Witmen type, are known from 5 or less examples in private hands.  Other than the Witmen type, itself not a common occurrence, an appearance of an early thrymsa at an auction is definitely going to attract attention and many competitive bidders.

I did not discuss the later pale gold thrymsa varieties, some of which are considerably more common and appear with greater frequency at auctions (there are a few very rare varieties of these too).  These include the PADA and 2-emperor types.  Will try to discuss these at a later time.

My collection has three Crondall era coins- the LONDVNIV, EAN, and Witmen types.  The LONDVNIV is unique outside of the museum, the EAN is one of two in private hands, although the other (a recent find) is likely to be called treasure and probably will end up in a museum.  The Witmen is the only one that can be considered “common”, with probably 20-30 or so in private hands.

While I hope to add more, realistically that will be challenging with the rarity and significant cost to acquire the other types.  But to be temporary steward for these mysterious artifacts of the dark ages is extremely gratifying.
 

28CF54FC-9438-4878-BF2D-7F9B1E66B272.jpeg.b809e50d00940b81a0a68038acd1e938.jpeg

Witmen type, S.753

 

F70126BF-1405-4BC0-BC7B-6DF11C4C3064.jpeg.00e5b18224267b12ff4a844d9a3616a9.jpeg

LONDVNIV type, S.757

 

B396582C-C01B-481A-9497-D1FF4AEF0A95.jpeg.15f91eeb80abe0199e0192dfa1d29fe3.jpeg

EAN type, S.759

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13 minutes ago, Nap said:

In 1828 a hoard of gold coins was found in the small town of Crondall, in Hampshire, England.  This hoard of nearly 100 coins, plus some blanks and a plated forgery, contained the largest amount of early English gold coins ever found in one place.  Even though it has been over 200 years, it remains the only large hoard of these coins found, and in 2022 still contains the majority of the coins of this era that are known.

The coins were owned by the landowner for more than 50 years, until they were sold to the prominent British collector Lord Grantley.  They were auctioned with the rest of his collection in the 1940s, but sold as a single lot.  The British firm Baldwin’s bought the coins and sold them to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford at cost.  The coins remain in the Ashmolean to this day.  Three coin blanks and the plated forgery were lost, but the rest of the coins remain together, a remarkable feat of a hoard almost 200 years old.

The coins are called thrymsas, or tremisses, but the name is probably not contemporary.  Most likely these would have been called shillings or gold pennies.

There are few old hoards that not only represent the material, but also are nearly the only evidence of their coins’ existence.  This is one.  Apart from some single finds, these coins would otherwise be unknown.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of the early thrymsas are only known from this hoard.

It was once postulated that the hoard represented a wergeld, the price paid for a slain freeman.  But this theory no longer holds much interest.  The reason for the hoard is uncertain, but like most hoards it was probably concealment of wealth during a turbulent time.  What a great loss this purse would have been!

Not all of the coins in the hoard were English.  Some were Merovingian or Frisian.  But the majority were English and can be divided into 12 types, thought to be almost certainly of Anglo-Saxon manufacture:

1. Abbo, imitating a Frankish moneyer
2. Witmen moneta, coinage in the name of a moneyer, and it’s derivatives
3. Eadbald, king of Kent
4. LONDVINIV, a facing bust
5. London-derived, a similar idea to the above but with the portrait in profile
6. LEMC, a funky abstract bust reminiscent of Celtic artwork, and those 4 letters on the reverse
7. EAN, a regal bust but with an indecipherable partial name
8. Bust/Lond, with the letters LOND on an otherwise uninterpretable reverse
9. Licinius, a high quality imitation of a Roman coin
10. Bust/cross on steps, a high gold content type with a cross on steps on the reverse
11. Cross/cross, a geometric type of small diameter with two crosses
12. Bust/cross, another type with cross on reverse

The purpose and origin of these various types is not clear.   Only one has an interpretable inscription- that of Eadbald of Kent, which gives us a date range but it is unfortunately fairly large- 616-640.  It is known that Eadbald was born Christian, reverted to the traditional Germanic religion, then became a Christian once more some time after he became king, thus we tend to date the coins to the 630-640 range.  The coins are thought to be of a similar era but do differ somewhat in metal content.  This difference is however even seen in coins from the same die pairing, so it is perhaps less useful to interpret the coinage.  Several other types are known which may be contemporary with the Crondall coins, but for whatever reason were not in the hoard.

So what we are left with is an interesting group of coins with funky imagery, loosely connected to southern England and in particular to the petty kingdom of Kent, but without clear evidence of strong central royal or ecclesiastical control over mintage.  All packaged on a ~11mm flan and weighing just a hair above 1g.

To collect thrymsas of this era is a very challenging task, and will quickly deplete your wallet.  Even with all the money in the world, these coins are near impossible to find.  Of the above types, only the Witmen type has more than 10 examples out there for collectors.  Thus this is quite possibly the greatest challenge for any collector of English coins, to put together any sort of representative collection of these coins. Other coins may be more expensive, but few have such rarity as a type.

Several types are unobtainable.  There are no examples of the coins of Abbo, LEMC, Licinius, bust/Lond, or bust/cross outside of the Crondall hoard.  Most of the other types, again excepting the Witmen type, are known from 5 or less examples in private hands.  Other than the Witmen type, itself not a common occurrence, an appearance of an early thrymsa at an auction is definitely going to attract attention and many competitive bidders.

I did not discuss the later pale gold thrymsa varieties, some of which are considerably more common and appear with greater frequency at auctions (there are a few very rare varieties of these too).  These include the PADA and 2-emperor types.  Will try to discuss these at a later time.

My collection has three Crondall era coins- the LONDVNIV, EAN, and Witmen types.  The LONDVNIV is unique outside of the museum, the EAN is one of two in private hands, although the other (a recent find) is likely to be called treasure and probably will end up in a museum.  The Witmen is the only one that can be considered “common”, with probably 20-30 or so in private hands.

While I hope to add more, realistically that will be challenging with the rarity and significant cost to acquire the other types.  But to be temporary steward for these mysterious artifacts of the dark ages is extremely gratifying.
 

28CF54FC-9438-4878-BF2D-7F9B1E66B272.jpeg.b809e50d00940b81a0a68038acd1e938.jpeg

Witmen type, S.753

 

F70126BF-1405-4BC0-BC7B-6DF11C4C3064.jpeg.00e5b18224267b12ff4a844d9a3616a9.jpeg

LONDVNIV type, S.757

 

B396582C-C01B-481A-9497-D1FF4AEF0A95.jpeg.15f91eeb80abe0199e0192dfa1d29fe3.jpeg

EAN type, S.759

The three coins posted are beauties 😍. A hoard of 100 coins is small, & knowing the find site gives them great historical importance.

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@Nap, many thanks for the very enlightening discussion.  I'd never heard of these, although Frisisan and Merovingian influence on the gold, along with sceattas, makes immediate sense.  Your examples are stunning.

...And I need your observation: "The British firm Baldwin’s bought the coins and sold them to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford at cost.  The coins remain in the Ashmolean to this day."  My esteem for Baldwin's just hit the stratosphere. 

 

Edited by JeandAcre
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Amazing coins, again, @Nap. You have a better collection than the museums. I collect Saxon coins and have zero from the Crondall era. I even only have one pale gold thrymsa. Each is like buying a car. One day I will get a Crondall, but certainly a Witmen. I only live 10 minutes from Crondall, so perhaps I have more chance of finding one than buying one 🤣

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On 10/2/2022 at 5:04 PM, Nap said:

In 1828 a hoard of gold coins was found in the small town of Crondall, in Hampshire, England.  This hoard of nearly 100 coins, plus some blanks and a plated forgery, contained the largest amount of early English gold coins ever found in one place.  Even though it has been over 200 years, it remains the only large hoard of these coins found, and in 2022 still contains the majority of the coins of this era that are known.

The coins were owned by the landowner for more than 50 years, until they were sold to the prominent British collector Lord Grantley.  They were auctioned with the rest of his collection in the 1940s, but sold as a single lot.  The British firm Baldwin’s bought the coins and sold them to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford at cost.  The coins remain in the Ashmolean to this day.  Three coin blanks and the plated forgery were lost, but the rest of the coins remain together, a remarkable feat of a hoard almost 200 years old.

The coins are called thrymsas, or tremisses, but the name is probably not contemporary.  Most likely these would have been called shillings or gold pennies.

There are few old hoards that not only represent the material, but also are nearly the only evidence of their coins’ existence.  This is one.  Apart from some single finds, these coins would otherwise be unknown.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of the early thrymsas are only known from this hoard.

It was once postulated that the hoard represented a wergeld, the price paid for a slain freeman.  But this theory no longer holds much interest.  The reason for the hoard is uncertain, but like most hoards it was probably concealment of wealth during a turbulent time.  What a great loss this purse would have been!

Not all of the coins in the hoard were English.  Some were Merovingian or Frisian.  But the majority were English and can be divided into 12 types, thought to be almost certainly of Anglo-Saxon manufacture:

1. Abbo, imitating a Frankish moneyer
2. Witmen moneta, coinage in the name of a moneyer, and it’s derivatives
3. Eadbald, king of Kent
4. LONDVINIV, a facing bust
5. London-derived, a similar idea to the above but with the portrait in profile
6. LEMC, a funky abstract bust reminiscent of Celtic artwork, and those 4 letters on the reverse
7. EAN, a regal bust but with an indecipherable partial name
8. Bust/Lond, with the letters LOND on an otherwise uninterpretable reverse
9. Licinius, a high quality imitation of a Roman coin
10. Bust/cross on steps, a high gold content type with a cross on steps on the reverse
11. Cross/cross, a geometric type of small diameter with two crosses
12. Bust/cross, another type with cross on reverse

The purpose and origin of these various types is not clear.   Only one has an interpretable inscription- that of Eadbald of Kent, which gives us a date range but it is unfortunately fairly large- 616-640.  It is known that Eadbald was born Christian, reverted to the traditional Germanic religion, then became a Christian once more some time after he became king, thus we tend to date the coins to the 630-640 range.  The coins are thought to be of a similar era but do differ somewhat in metal content.  This difference is however even seen in coins from the same die pairing, so it is perhaps less useful to interpret the coinage.  Several other types are known which may be contemporary with the Crondall coins, but for whatever reason were not in the hoard.

So what we are left with is an interesting group of coins with funky imagery, loosely connected to southern England and in particular to the petty kingdom of Kent, but without clear evidence of strong central royal or ecclesiastical control over mintage.  All packaged on a ~11mm flan and weighing just a hair above 1g.

To collect thrymsas of this era is a very challenging task, and will quickly deplete your wallet.  Even with all the money in the world, these coins are near impossible to find.  Of the above types, only the Witmen type has more than 10 examples out there for collectors.  Thus this is quite possibly the greatest challenge for any collector of English coins, to put together any sort of representative collection of these coins. Other coins may be more expensive, but few have such rarity as a type.

Several types are unobtainable.  There are no examples of the coins of Abbo, LEMC, Licinius, bust/Lond, or bust/cross outside of the Crondall hoard.  Most of the other types, again excepting the Witmen type, are known from 5 or less examples in private hands.  Other than the Witmen type, itself not a common occurrence, an appearance of an early thrymsa at an auction is definitely going to attract attention and many competitive bidders.

I did not discuss the later pale gold thrymsa varieties, some of which are considerably more common and appear with greater frequency at auctions (there are a few very rare varieties of these too).  These include the PADA and 2-emperor types.  Will try to discuss these at a later time.

My collection has three Crondall era coins- the LONDVNIV, EAN, and Witmen types.  The LONDVNIV is unique outside of the museum, the EAN is one of two in private hands, although the other (a recent find) is likely to be called treasure and probably will end up in a museum.  The Witmen is the only one that can be considered “common”, with probably 20-30 or so in private hands.

While I hope to add more, realistically that will be challenging with the rarity and significant cost to acquire the other types.  But to be temporary steward for these mysterious artifacts of the dark ages is extremely gratifying.
 

28CF54FC-9438-4878-BF2D-7F9B1E66B272.jpeg.b809e50d00940b81a0a68038acd1e938.jpeg

Witmen type, S.753

 

F70126BF-1405-4BC0-BC7B-6DF11C4C3064.jpeg.00e5b18224267b12ff4a844d9a3616a9.jpeg

LONDVNIV type, S.757

 

B396582C-C01B-481A-9497-D1FF4AEF0A95.jpeg.15f91eeb80abe0199e0192dfa1d29fe3.jpeg

EAN type, S.759

Amazing! You’ve got three dream coins right there!

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4 hours ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Was this sold recently?

it looks familiar. Roma maybe?

Yes/ I bought it from Roma as an "unsold" lot for 1000 UK Pounds😀 I have probably brought over 100 AV coins that were offered at starting bid/ since they did not sell. I was super happy with all of them! Lately it has been tough finding supberb unsold coins....

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On 10/5/2022 at 10:10 AM, John Conduitt said:

Spink have a Paulinus (Bishop of York) thrymsa in their upcoming auction. It's an Ultra Crondall coin i.e. from the same time as, but not in, the Crondall Hoard. The estimate is £10,000-12,000, so it's not for everyone 🤣

I was in negotiation to buy this coin from the finder, but he backed out.  Oh well.  Guess he figures he will do better at auction.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is another coin that has been called "Ultra-Crondall"

Called the "Wuneetton" type, this coin is probably really an English imitation of a Frankish coin "BETTONE MVNE".  It also has similarity to the Witmen type, also with a trident before the face.

wuneetton-1-ii.jpg.b98ea641ab74784893bc34f1215a2660.jpg

 

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10 minutes ago, Nap said:

Here is another coin that has been called "Ultra-Crondall"

Called the "Wuneetton" type, this coin is probably really an English imitation of a Frankish coin "BETTONE MVNE".  It also has similarity to the Witmen type, also with a trident before the face.

wuneetton-1-ii.jpg.b98ea641ab74784893bc34f1215a2660.jpg

 

A really interesting coin. Surely, it must definitely be an imitation of "BETTONE MVNE".
 

On 10/7/2022 at 3:07 AM, Nap said:

I was in negotiation to buy this coin from the finder, but he backed out.  Oh well.  Guess he figures he will do better at auction.

I see this coin went for £19,000 (about £23,500 total). There are not many people with big collections of Saxon gold.

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17 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

I see this coin went for £19,000 (about £23,500 total). There are not many people with big collections of Saxon gold.

Sadly, the cost of playing makes building a good set extremely challenging.  I did not buy the York thrymsa from Spink, it went for more than I could do.  It also made more than I had offered the guy, so he made the right call to consign I guess, but you never know at auction.

I'm making some progress but each addition hurts!  The coins actually have been easier to find than they should be, given how rare they are.  Just a good number of them sold in the last few years.  My plan is to keep my examples off the market for a while though.

Edited by Nap
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15 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

A really interesting coin. Surely, it must definitely be an imitation of "BETTONE MVNE".

I discussed this with Arent Pol and he agreed (and had of course already come to this same conclusion).

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