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Finally found some time to photograph: 12 new sceattas


Roerbakmix
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Last year was incredibly busy. We're expecting our fourth child (any day now), I'm (still) wrapping up my PhD in Clinical Epidemiology, we've moved to another city. But, last week, I finally finished my _own_ place in this house, and reinstalled my photography setup (won't share pictures, it's ugly but it works). 

I've photographed 12 new sceattas. An irritating aspect of sceattas is they look wonderful in hand, but when you photograph them, the look pitted, rough, worn, etc. Anyway, here they are:

 

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series D, type 2c), minted: Frisia; 695-715 AD
Obv: Abstract bust to the right, Runic EPA before
Rev: Central cross, with pellets in each quarter, large annulet above. VVVVs around
Weight: 1.21g; Ø:11.4mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Bought from Jean Peusens, found near Maastricht; acq.: 11-2022
Nice, even dark tone, well detailed.

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series D, type 2c), minted: Frisia; 695-715 AD
Obv: Abstract and crude bust to the right, with prominent square nose. EPA before.
Rev: Central cross, with pellets in each quarter, large annulet above. VHN around
Weight: 11.1g; Ø:1.13mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Bought from Jean Peusens, found near Maastricht; acq.: 11-2022
Die-break in the A of EPA

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series D, type 8), minted: Frisia; 695-715 AD
Obv: Central cross with garbled runic legend around
Rev: Standard with central annulet, a V in each quadrant
Weight: 0.97g; Ø:11.1mm. Catalogue: Die match to reverse dies 38 and 40; possibly also obverse die match. . Provenance: Ex. Elsen, auction 150, lot 1017; acq.: 03-2022

The next coin is extremely rare, with two examples known; both in my collection. I'll post a thread on this specific coin later, but both the find location (France) and the unusual obv/rev combination (a mule of the primary phase and secondary phase) is interesting. 
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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, (mule) plumed bird // reverse type ?), minted: Frisia magna; 690-750 AD
Obv: Plumed bird with three lined tail
Rev: Central annulet with V's around, cross-pommee above, all within square
Weight: 0.32g; Ø:9.3mm. Catalogue: Not in JMP. Provenance: Found near Étaples, France. Bought from Le Numis d'or, Ebay (ID 185594493974); acq.: 10-2022

The next coin was also found in France, and although stylistically more in line with the subvarieties of the plumed bird type, it does not follow it entirely. I'm not 100% certain whether it's a fourree or not, but the pits on the obverse are very suggestive. 
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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, primary phase, plumed bird type), minted: Frisia Magna; 690-715 AD
Obv: Plumed bird with long, curved neck; cross-pomme below.
Rev: Dot-within-central annulet; around lines and two pellets on each side
Weight: 1.02g; Ø:10.9mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Found near Uzes (France). Bought on Ebay from Yamushi, Ebay nr: 195378840092; acq.: 10-2022
Fourree?

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series G5), minted: Anglo-Saxon? Frisia?; 650-750 AD
Obv: porcupine-like figure with runic letters around
Rev: runic letters around ornate uncial m
Weight: 0.9g; Ø:11.2mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Found near Rochester (Kent) in 1980s, bought on Ebay from Ancient17, ID 385156253365; acq.: 10-2022

----

kids are awake 😞 Will post the remaining 7 later!
 

 

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Great coins. I don't know where you find them! I'm looking forward to the post about the mule.

Yes, photographing sceattas is a trick I haven't mastered. I think it's because they're small, so you have to blow them up far more than other coins and show off all the microscopic faults, and they're high relief, so only one bit of the coin is ever in focus (usually the rough bit).

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Fascinating @Roerbakmix. I have a sceatta of the Dorestad mint on my wantlist, for next year. But I'm a bit confused by the determination of mints in various descriptions. Sometimes I see descriptions saying 'Frisian mint (perhaps, or likely Dorsestad)'. Do we know for sure Dorestand had a mint? I see that you mention Frisia in your desciptions. Do you have any advice? 

12 hours ago, Roerbakmix said:

kids are awake 😞 Will post the remaining 7 later!

I can 'high-five' you on this one... Wishing you and your wife the best of health and luck with no. 4 arriving soon (we stopped at three 😉)

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2 hours ago, Limes said:

Fascinating @Roerbakmix. I have a sceatta of the Dorestad mint on my wantlist, for next year. But I'm a bit confused by the determination of mints in various descriptions. Sometimes I see descriptions saying 'Frisian mint (perhaps, or likely Dorsestad)'. Do we know for sure Dorestand had a mint? I see that you mention Frisia in your desciptions. Do you have any advice? 

I can 'high-five' you on this one... Wishing you and your wife the best of health and luck with no. 4 arriving soon (we stopped at three 😉)

I think with sceattas, findspots are used to identify likely mints, so they are not certain (although some are as clear as they can be). Even the coins that seem to name the mint (e.g. London) are debated. To make things more confusing, many of the designs were copied, such as by the Anglo-Saxons or other European mints. It isn't always clear which are official or original, or what the date range is, so it isn't clear who struck them or where.

Frisia is credited because Series E sceattas are found there in large numbers, and are distinct from coins found, say, in Frankish territory, although sceattas circulated there too. That makes it relatively straightforward to attribute coins by style, at least to the Frisians/Jutes/Anglo-Saxons. But where exactly is more difficult.

Dorestand definitely had a mint, and was well-known for it, so combined with findspots, this is probably why coins are attributed to 'Frisia, likely Dorestad'. But added to the above uncertainty, the Frisians don't always seem to have had control of Dorestad, so there is doubt. By the 720s, the Franks had control, and their Dorestand coins are clearly marked.

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@Limes, thanks! Indeed, it can be though with three, and four will probably be somewhat more timeconsuming (although the step twins > third child wasn't as difficult as zero to two children ;)). 

Regarding your Dorestad question: @John Conduittanswered it better than I could. There are no sceatta's that can be attributed to Dorestad with certainty. The early Madelinus tremisses are however attributed to that mint location, but later immitations probably not. 

I guess  a primary phase series E will get you as closest as possible - a plumed bird type is then a good choice. I'm working on a revision of the plumed bird categorization as proposed by Blackburn and repeated by Metcalf and Opdenvelde (2014, JMP). Hopefully, I'll find some time to finish it, and post it here. 

 

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Zedelius, Interlace or Maastricht type), minted: Mint possibly in Maastricht; 695-740 AD
Obv: Stylised, bust left with thickly braided hair in simple diadem, exaggerated features, cross pommée before, beading below and behind.
Rev: Interlaced cross with three pellets in each quadrant
Weight: 0.57g; Ø:11mm. Catalogue: Abramson 60-10. Provenance: Ex. Elsen, auction 150, lot 1005; acq.: 03-2022

 

This common series E var G2 is an obv. and rev. die match to another one I own, something I discovered by coincidence only yesterday. It's tempting to phantasize about what these coins, perhaps minted on the same day, have seen in the 1300 years after their seperation. 

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, primary phase, variety G2), minted: Frisia; 695-715/720
Obv: Porcupine with thin spine, ending in large dots, attaching proximal end of beak - distal part of beak not attached. Three dots at sharp point of beak; one dot between beak and spine. Below upper part of square, largely off-flan
Rev: Central annulet with pellet within, flanked by four lines ending in pellet. Above cross-pommee
Weight: 0.81g; Ø:12.1mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Ex. Elsen, auction 150, lot 1009; acq.: 03-2022
Struck with broken die on the obverse, mainly in the beak. Otherwise sharply struck and nice patina

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, primary phase, variety D), minted: Frisia; 695-715/720
Obv: Porcupine with beak (attached to spine). Two dots below; cross-pommee, with one large dot on top, spine ending in large annulet (mostly off-flan)
Rev: Beaded square with large central dot-within-anulet; around annulet, zig-zag line, and dotted-line
Weight: 0.81g; Ø:12.1mm. Catalogue: No die match in JMP 2010; similar to 666-667. Provenance: Ex. Elsen, auction 150, lot 1008; acq.: 03-2022

 

image.jpeg.9441fc4f6fddc29a78fc67d388a66e6e.jpegEARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series J, type 85), minted: Anglo-Saxon; 710-725, York
Obv: Diademed head right, double strand pearl diadem
Rev: A bird on a cross, pellets in field in front of bird and below horizontal bar on the cross; annulets at the ends of the horizontal arms, beaded inner circle
Weight: 0.88g; Ø:11.6mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Bought from Eddy Pauwels, who found the coins near Etaples-sur-Mer (2022); acq.: 07-2022

 

 

--- the other two will follow later 🙂

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Edited by Roerbakmix
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4 minutes ago, Topcat7 said:

@Roerbakmix Lovely coins (BTW). I really like Sceattas and Stycas, but can you please tell me, when photographing them, how do you determine which way is 'North'?

Believe it or not, all the above obverses are busts. The 'porcupine quills' are hair. The triangle is the nose (so in a few cases, the coins could be rotated anti-clockwise a little). Series E reverses are derived from Roman standards, but unless they have some degenerate lettering e.g. TOT for VOT, or some way of determining the standard pole direction, I'm not sure there is a 'right' way.

A styca, on the other hand, only has a legend. 'Up' would be the start of the king or moneyer's name.

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1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:

A styca, on the other hand, only has a legend. 'Up' would be the start of the king or moneyer's name.

So with a Styca you would usually start with (one of) the cross to the 'north'?

Thank you for the 'explanation' of the sceattas.

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@Topcat7, as @John Conduittsaid, all sceatta's a bust on their obverse, but in varying degrees of abstraction. For example, you'll probably recognize the bust on the last coin, the Series J type 85 sceatta. I bought it however to supplement my other series J type 85, which is more naturalistic: 

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as compared to the new one (so you don't have to scroll): 

image.jpeg.bac94a0f374c5de63f803a4a596a8144.jpeg

This bust is comparable to series B:

image.jpeg.b6a97356b676ccd5933e0e4694c9ad45.jpeg

... which also have varying levels of abstraction:

image.jpeg.1db9311ac59d036fce9e54cb7b3b9c90.jpeg

 

For the continental series D, this abstraction can require some training, see e.g. the following examples:

Series D, BMC type 10 (please also pay attention to the 'porcupine' reverse: it's not difficult to recognize it as a very abstract face, with a prominent nose, and two dots as lips):

image.jpeg.3b6da26e2b2c933e6d4924b505828318.jpeg

Series D, BMC 2c, bust to right. The zig-zag lines above should be interpreted as a crown, or helmet. image.png.ac004d388fd3de64544a420e350a0643.png

Face to right, very abstract:

image.jpeg.9b4d22298f10647a2f67b4433dec3449.jpeg

Face to the left:

image.jpeg.091c710af6b67c218a9635ae192380ca.jpeg

... another face to the left:

image.jpeg.7d408db65e8271bf4c9140ded22d30c2.jpeg

... believe it or not: face to the right. Interestingly, the elements of a series D BMC 2c are still present: runic EPA legend before; a inverse-V behind. Note that, while the obverse is very crude, the reverse is still carefully executed. 

image.jpeg.6d47322db12a648787446c3488a9a4dd.jpeg

 

Moving on to Series E: remember the reverse of the first example of Series D, BMC 10 (with the 'moon-faced' porcupine). With some fantasy, you might recognize a face in this Primary phase, Series E variety G4 "XAZA" type:

image.jpeg.e76dfa3d57bc887508f5c60438f966e0.jpeg

but of course, after a while, things get really weird (this is, by the way, sceatta nr 11; it's a series E, subvariety K). 

image.jpeg.0998b1e98a9bede81d91a93551983642.jpeg

 

Series E, subvariety e (reverse type 1)image.jpeg.31cbcd4045ec071dc924e6b3ef3f8d40.jpeg

Series E, subvariety k:

image.jpeg.cd5e76a0b24ef42800c890375bb642e5.jpeg

idemimage.jpeg.c82c5e29c94174498d4c1eb9ed282b37.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Al Kowsky said:

R, That's a wonderful group of coins ☺️! I'd love to see these coins photographed on a plain white background instead of black. A white background would enhance the color & toning of these coins 😉.

@Al KowskyI could certainly give it a try! Though my photo's do not require editing - the black background is achieved using a similar method as @dougsmit. In the end, I would like pictures like those of @kirispupis, with the fancy mirroring effects, etc. But this, of course, requires way more time (to master) than I have, presently, available. 

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1 minute ago, Limes said:

Thanks @Roerbakmixand @John Conduitt for the information. I'm still getting my head around the many variants. I found the informative site of the Zeeuws Genootschap, kzgw online, and dive deeper in the world of the E series... 🙂

Hi @LImes, well you should certainly do so! 

Are you aware that nearly all "jaarboeken" are available online? See:

https://jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek-op-artikel/

If you plan to delve deeper into series E (and why not?!): this is the main reference by Metcalf & Op den Velde:

https://jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek/2009/2009a.pdf: the description of the types

https://jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek/2010/2010a.pdf: the die study. Helpful if you're uncertain about the variety (which I'm still quite often). 

 

Series D is a bit easier to grasp:

https://jaarboekvoormuntenpenningkunde.nl/jaarboek/2003/2003a.pdf


Note that I'm working on a stylistic breakdown of the Series E - a very short and concise summary of the two volumina by Metcalf and Op den Velde. Though their work is the standard, it is very inaccessible: a flow chart for identification would have helped tremendously, and is certainly possible. I can send you it by private message if you want? 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

R, That's a wonderful group of coins ☺️! I'd love to see these coins photographed on a plain white background instead of black. A white background would enhance the color & toning of these coins 😉.

I dislike staring into a white screen and always choose the black option when presented by pages not to mention on my coins.  Coins shot on white seem to suffer from flare that reduces contrast and adds fog.  It is all a matter of personal preferences.  I also am unique in hating those fake reflections.  I only did one of a coin about to have a bad day.  The coin is about to go down in flames just as did its maker Tarkondimotos.

 

#09lavacoinr.jpg

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24 minutes ago, dougsmit said:

I also am unique in hating those fake reflections.  I only did one of a coin about to have a bad day. 

Hehe, I like your bluntness. I'm not sure I like it either; I just haven't tried it. 

I'd like the CNG grey background, as an alternative to black. 

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52 minutes ago, dougsmit said:

I dislike staring into a white screen and always choose the black option when presented by pages not to mention on my coins.  Coins shot on white seem to suffer from flare that reduces contrast and adds fog.  It is all a matter of personal preferences.  I also am unique in hating those fake reflections.  I only did one of a coin about to have a bad day.  The coin is about to go down in flames just as did its maker Tarkondimotos.

 

#09lavacoinr.jpg

I don't much like reflections, but your lava shot is bringing me round to them...

Edited by John Conduitt
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6 hours ago, Roerbakmix said:

Hehe, I like your bluntness. I'm not sure I like it either; I just haven't tried it. 

I'd like the CNG grey background, as an alternative to black. 

You make an excellent point with the grey background that CNG uses effectively 😊. I won the coin pictured below from CNG 526, & this dark coin looks excellent on the grey background, good enough that I won't bother shooting it again 🤨.

987845590_Nero-TiberiusTet.ANACS7398163VF35.jpg.6dbbef85e832a09c23122daed9be2011.jpg

Roman Egypt. Nero, AD 54-68 (dated year 13, AD 66/7). Alexandria Mint. Billon Tetradrachm: 22 mm, 12 h. Reverse: Tiberius.

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7 hours ago, Roerbakmix said:

I'd like the CNG grey background, as an alternative to black. 

I am fine with gray but it is next to impossible to shoot a consistent gray background so you have to cut out the coin and drop it on the gray.  That makes a possible problem if the selection is less than perfect and you have edge of coin missing or original background remaining in the cracks.  Black is easier to achieve since the difference between very black and very, very black is not much.  CNG gray is  a tad blue for my taste.  The ones below are aaaaaa, 777777, 444444 and 000000.  I'll stick with black 000000 but all beat the lava IMO.

g61926gray1301.jpg.f3960c0b3f90d1522ea955f5fbc714ed.jpgg61926gray71301.jpg.962d9d395b3bb08d0eb7b8155efe17f2.jpgg61926gray41301.jpg.62a3d02f0f00c8318eb2957519638880.jpgg61926rp1301.jpg.69b8cbe104705b67ace8bf30778028ba.jpg

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