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Here’s my top ten for 2022. Life returned to ‘normal’ and the opportunity to do other things meant I spent a third less on coins than in 2021, so I’ve combined ancient and medieval.

I’ve bought a fair few British Celtic coins this year, and they’re not all what you’d call showpieces. But this Corieltavi silver unit is one of the best of the type. It slightly pre-dates the era when the Celts named their kings on coins, so it gets a descriptive title that’s a little insulting to the horse. It was struck around the time of Julius Caesar’s invasions, although he didn’t get very far and certainly not as far north as the Corieltavi, so they may not have known much about him.

South Ferriby ‘Stork Head’ Rich Type 28a Unit, 55-45BCE (‘Before Cunobeline’)

Corieltavi tribe, English Midlands. Silver, 13-15mm, 1.18g. Horse right, stork head, pellet rosette above, pellet below tail. Uniface (ABC 1806; VA 884-1; S−).

As usual, I added a few Romano-British hoard coins, of which this is probably the nicest. With no British mint, denarii found in Britain travelled a long way and are usually rather worn, even if they ended up in a hoard. Not that hoards were all that common in the first couple of centuries – until the Gallic Empire, in fact, when denarii were obsolete.

Hadrian Denarius, 126-127

Rome. Silver, 17x18mm, 3.40g. Head of Hadrian, laureate, right, slight drapery on left shoulder; HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS. Virtus standing right, resting foot on helmet, holding spear and parazonium; COS III (RIC III, 851). From the Ropsley (Lincolnshire) Hoard 2018, Portable Antiquities Scheme LANCUM-F93E5B. The Ropsley Hoard (also known as Londonthorpe II) contained 522 denarii from Mark Antony (32-31BCE) to Faustina II, buried in a greyware vessel around 152. It was found in 2018 not far from the Roman town of Causennis on Ermine Street, which led from Londinium to Eboracum, on land that not long before belonged to the Corieltavi tribe. Another hoard of 420 denarii was found on the site in 1976.

This coin is from the other end of the Roman occupation of Britain. Siliquae didn’t have quite as far to come as denarii and were often quickly buried, so aren’t usually as worn, but they’re fragile and often broken in the ground by ploughing. Even so, 80% of all hoards containing silver across the Roman Empire from 388-410 were found in southeast England, so there are a few to choose from, even of the less common emperors.

Eugenius Siliqua, 392-394
Treveri. Silver, 1.72g. Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; D N EVGENI-VS P F AVG. Roma seated left on cuirass, holding reversed spear and Victoriola on globe; VIRTVS RO-MANORVM; TR PS in exergue (RIC IX, 106(d); Ghey 78, this coin). From the Vale of Pewsey Hoard (Wiltshire) 2020, Portable Antiquities Scheme: BM-7D34D9. The Vale of Pewsey Hoard, found in 2020, contained 161 miliarenses, siliquae and a nummus, dating from 324 to 402 (Honorius) and weighing close to a Roman pound. The lack of clipping and relatively low numbers of Honorius siliquae suggest burial was close to the final coin date, unlike other siliqua hoards that could have stretched a decade or two into the 400s.

When the Romans left, the Saxons dealt in hacksilver for a couple of hundred years. When they started making coins they were copies of Roman coins. At first, their ‘thrymsas’ were gold, like the solidi they copied, but were soon debased. The gold got paler until they were striking only in silver. All Saxon gold coins are rare, but this is the most common (from the later, paler end of the spectrum), based on a 4th Century Two Emperors solidus.

Pale Gold Phase ‘Two Emperors’ Thrymsa, 645-675
Kent. Gold, 13mm, 1.19g. Diademed and draped bust right; pseudo legend around. Two small busts facing; above, Victory with wings enfolding the figures; pellet to each side of Victory's head (SCBC 767). Ex Jeroen de Wilde (former ANS Trustee).

The Saxons’ silver coins are now known either as sceattas or sceats, but it isn’t important which, since the Saxons probably called them pennies. The understanding of Saxon coins is shifting all the time. This type was once thought a product of Maastricht, while now it is thought to have been produced further north. The style was increasingly degraded as time went on, until the portrait became rather grotesque. The last of the series may even have been produced in England.

Interlace Cross Type Continental Phase Anglo Saxon Sceat, 695-740
image.png.96f88479092789f7e76fe78a07cc0135.pngNorthern Europe. Silver, 1.14g. Diademed bust left, exaggerated features, with striated hair and beaded neck, pellets before and in field, cross below, beaded border. Interlaced cross with pellet in each loop, beaded border (S 795; Abramson IV, 1062 this coin; SCBI 69, 307 this coin). Ex Tony Abramson (Saxon expert who updated Spink); found with a metal detector in Essex, 2005 (EMC 2006.0270).

While the Saxons in the south of England were in the same currency pool as the Frisians and Merovingians, the Angles in Northumberland struck their own unique coins. The European sceattas rarely feature legends, but Northumbrian sceattas invariably do. Their silver sceattas were gradually debased to billon, coins now known as stycas. This transition from silver to billon helps date the coins and the rulers, knowledge of whose existence relies on the coins. Hoards of Saxon coins are not common, so when they’re found, they provide invaluable dating information. This coin is from the Hexham Hoard. Elizabeth Pirie used stycas from Hexham, Kirkoswald and Bolton Percy (from which I also have an Eanred styca) to create the typology for the coinage.

Eanred Styca, 837-841
Eoferwic (York). Billon, 13mm, 1.26g. Pellet within linear circle; Pellet within linear circle; +EAHRED REX. Pellet within linear circle; + BROER (SCBC 862; SCBI Mack 372, this coin). Ex RP Mack (expert in ancient and medieval British coins, who wrote the standard reference Coinage of Ancient Britain). From the Hexham (Northumberland) Hoard 1832, deposited during Aethelred II's second reign, 843-850. It was found while digging a grave near Hexham Abbey. A few moneyers abbreviated their names, and BROER is a version of the moneyer Brother found only in the Hexham Hoard.

When England was unified less than 100 years later, the penny was the only denomination. As the economy developed, smaller change was needed. Coins were cut into halves and quarters to accommodate demand. By the reign of Henry III, however, even quarter pennies were worth too much. One enterprising organisation, possibly the Pewterers guild, developed a series of tokens for use as small change. An innkeeper in Winetavern Street, Dublin bought a job lot of these, but no sooner had he done so, than Edward I brought in a farthing coin and banned tokens. The innkeeper dumped the tokens, which were later found in a waste pit (helpfully with all the accompanying context).

'Winetavern Street’ Jeton, 1250-1300
London. Pewter, 0.79g. Double-headed eagle. Shield with barry of nine (Mitchiner-Skinner Series D46). Ex Barry Woodside (Irish token expert).

Three Henrys later, there were five denominations in silver. Henry VI and his nemesis Edward IV are particularly known for their groats. I bought two Henry VI groats this year and this isn’t even my favourite, (which is a second reign London mint groat, ex Ivan Buck, and the plate coin for Spink’s Coins of England & The United Kingdom). This one, though, is prettier, as is often the case with coins from the Calais mint.

Henry VI Rosette-Mascle Groat, 1430-1431
Calais. Silver, 26mm, 3.82g. Crowned facing bust in tressure of arches, with rosettes & mascles in legend; + hЄnRIC DI GRΛ RЄX ΛnGL’ Z FRΛnC. Long cross pattee, trefoils in quarters, rosettes and mascles in legend; + POSVI DЄVm ΛDIVTORЄ mЄVm; VIL LA CALI SIE (S 1859). Ex Ken Bressett (author of Whitman guides, who apparently coined the term "doubled die"). From the Cambridge Hoard 2001.

Although there were now several denominations, the coins of England all looked much as they did 400 years earlier – a facing bust and a cross and pellets reverse. This changed when Henry VII introduced a much more realistic profile bust. The idea for such portraits came from the Continent, and even the engraver, Alexander de Brugsal, was brought to England in 1494. He was not the first or last from Europe, but there was no certainty the public would accept them. They are, though, very desirable now.

Henry VII Regular Type Profile Issue Groat, 1505-1509
Tower. Silver, 3.08g. Crowned and draped bust of Henry VII facing right, wearing an arched imperial crown; triple band to crown; HENRIC' · VII' · DI' · GRA' · REX · AGL' · Z ·] FR' (variant on F’) with saltire stops. Royal shield of arms over long cross fourchée; POSVI DEV . · A DIVTOR E' : MEV' with double saltire stops; mintmark pheon both sides (S 2258).

As the price of silver went up, the size of farthings fell until they were impractically small. England’s first copper coins appeared under James I and Charles I. My last coin is not the prettiest in the list or even the most attractive Charles I farthing I’ve bought this year. It is, though, a very uncommon coin that was available on eBay for £27 delivered. This late type was not produced by Charles I, but rather Parliament at the start of the Civil War. The sceptres cross below the crown to distinguish them from earlier farthings (where the sceptres go through the crown), so that Parliament could demonetise the latter and ensure Charles I couldn’t produce any to fund his army.

Charles I Rose Type 5b Farthing Token, 1643-1644
London Token House. Copper with brass segment, 14mm, 0.90g. Single-arched crown, sceptres with plain handles cross beneath crown, mullet privy mark both sides; CAROLV \ . D G / MA BRI. Single rose; FR . ET : HIB REX (Everson Rose Type 5a 208a; Peck/BMC Type 3a 348).

Thank you for looking. All comments welcome!

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A fabulous list of British and Britain-relatet coins! You obviously had a fantastic collecting year.

The thrymsa stands out even in this illustrous group, and I also have to especially mention the "Winetavern Street" jeton. That piece certainly has a fascinating background story, which I very much like.


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A true collector's list!  I enjoyed the details you gave for each coin and I think they're all fantastic.  (If you like it better than the Calais, though, why didn't the 2nd reign Henry VI London plate coin groat show up on your list? Catering to the plebs? So you take us for plebs, John? 😝)

I'd be curious to know how you'd rank these.  Though I appreciate how difficult it is to do that, especially when the coins cross categories.  I think my favourites are (in order): the thrymsa (wow!!!), the Eugenius (beautiful coin, and very cool hoard date), the Henry VII profile groat (I've been wanting one of these for ages), and the farthing (learned something new!)

Here's a groat of Edward IV I acquired this year:


YORK. Edward IV. First reign, 1461-1470. AR Groat (24mm, 2.78 g, 10h). Light coinage, type Vd. London (Tower) mint; im: rose. Struck 1464-1465. Crowned facing bust within tressure of arches with fleurs on cusps; trefoil on breast; quatrefoils flanking neck / Long cross pattée; triple pellets in quarters, additional pellet in second quarter. North 1568; SCBC 2000. Toned. VF.  From the New Horizons Collection; purchased from Seaby in May 1961.

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28 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

A true collector's list!  I enjoyed the details you gave for each coin and I think they're all fantastic.  (If you like it better than the Calais, though, why didn't the 2nd reign Henry VI London plate coin groat show up on your list? Catering to the plebs? So you take us for plebs, John? 😝)

I'd be curious to know how you'd rank these.  Though I appreciate how difficult it is to do that, especially when the coins cross categories.  I think my favourites are (in order): the thrymsa (wow!!!), the Eugenius (beautiful coin, and very cool hoard date), the Henry VII profile groat (I've been wanting one of these for ages), and the farthing (learned something new!)

Here's a groat of Edward IV I acquired this year

Thank you.

Yes I chose the Calais coin over the Henry VI 2nd Reign because it looks better 🤣 I don't think all the extra effort in getting a vaguely decent London coin, let alone second reign, comes across in a year list when the coin is a bit rough and, on first glance, all but the same as the Calais example. They both have pretty strong provenances. But I posted about the London coin in detail already anyway.

I listed the coins in chronological order, since that helped write about them in some sort of coherent way. I think it would be impossible to meaningfully rank coins from such a broad range of styles. It was hard enough picking one or two from each era.

That's a very nice Edward IV. I have a similar coin with the same reverse (not bought this year).

Edward IV First Reign Light Coinage Class Vd Groat, 1464-1466
image.png.f42665260e302680c341e40a7865282e.pngTower. Silver, 26mm, 3.06g. Crowned facing bust in tressure of arches; fleurs on cusps, quatrefoils by neck, nothing on breast; EDWARD DI GRA REX AnGL Z FRAnC, saltire stops. Long cross pattée, three pellets in angles, extra pellet in CIVI quarter; +POSVI DEVM ADIVTOREM MEVM, CIVITAS LONDON. Initial mark rose both sides (S 2000). Ex Marvin Lessen; Spink Numismatic Circular, November 1979.

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