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Four new sceattas - two rare varieties & two common, but nice ones.


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Last week, four new sceattas arrived. I bought them via Facebook, a source for new acquisitions I had overlooked until recently. The seller, a UK coin trader by the name of Victor Parsons, bought them in various auction houses, but forgot which. The package was delayed for almost three months in Dutch customs (which has become common unfortunately for UK packages since Brexit), which gave me ample time to search for the lost provenances. 

When the lot was posted online, I immediately recognized two rare varieties which I just had to have. The first is a scarce reverse variety ('Saltire cross', a cross with a central annulet. This reverse type is more common on Anglo Saxon than continental sceattas, e.g. some series R varieties and the SEROALDO type), combined with a common series E obverse. Metcalf and Op den Velde (Jaarboek 2009/2010) groups this type in the secondary phase (715-755 AD), sub-variety k, and identified two other die-identical specimens that were found in the Netherlands. I think this third coin was probably found in the UK, as (1) it's the only one without a provenance, (2) it has some dirt remains, suggesting a recent find, and (3) the seller is known to buy and resell metal detecting finds in the UK. So, after about 1400 years, the coin has traveled back to the place it was minted (or, alternatively, the other two known Dutch finds were also minted in the UK, but found in the Netherlands). 


EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, secondary phase, sub-variety k), minted: Frisia; 720-740 AD
Obv: Quilled crescent or 'porcupine' with three vertical lines below spine (one attached to distal end)
Rev: Saltire cross with large central annulet, within square dotted border, flanked by pellets.
Weight: 0.96g; Ø:11.4 mm. Catalogue: Obverse and reverse die-match to JMP 2631-2632, which where found in Domburg and De Meern respectively. Provenance: Ex. Victor Parsons 03-2023; acq.: 03-2023
Find location: Unknown Published: No


The second coin was misidentified as a common series E. I recognized it as an abstracted VERNVS type, a type on which I have posted before.

On a rare, new variety: https://www.numisforums.com/topic/3313-vernvs

A more general post on the variety: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/brushing-the-dirt-of-mr-vernvs-who-was-bought-by-accident.372140/

Metcalf and Op den Velde have hypothesized a chronological abstraction of the plumed bird type into the VERNVS type, but I'm not quite sure I agree with this (for reasons stated in the first URL above). I now have varieties a, c, and g (and of course plan to complete the subseries) 



EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, VERNVS), minted: Frisia; 695-715/720
Obv: Crude radiate bust to the right; V-shaped abstract helmet (?)
Rev: Beaded standard with central pellet-within annulet, flanked by pellets, and horizontal lines.
Weight: 10.2g; Ø:1.1 mm. Catalogue: No die matches or similar coins in JMP. Provenance: Ex. Noonans auction 13-07-2022, lot 57
Ex. Victor Parson 03-2023; acq.: 03-2023
Find location: Unknown Published: No



The other two coins are nice examples of more common varieties. This one is a relatively common series E, primary phase variety D. It's better in hand, though I'll probably keep looking for an upgrade (it's attractively toned, and reasonably sharp in hand, but minted with worn dies). Series E var. D is known for interesting pseudo-letters on the reverse, which are clearly visible on this one:


EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, primary phase, variety D), minted: Frisia; 695-715/720
Obv: Quiled crescend or 'porcupine' with small V (both ends attached to spine); spine ending in annulet. Two dots below spine; part of cross-pommee below
Rev: Central annulet flanked with four pellets, within (small) dotted square, garbled legend outside
Weight: 11.9g; Ø:1.13 mm. Catalogue: Obverse and reverse die match to JMP 675-676 (found in Coddenham, and Aston Rowant respectively). Provenance: Ex. Noonans auction 13-07-2022, lot 56
Ex. Victor Parson 03-2023; acq.: 03-2023
Find location: Unknown Published: No

A common series E primary phase variety G, type 4 with parts of the "XAZO" legend visible. It's didn't circulate for long before it was lost. I like the off-center reverse, which shows how much larger the die was than the flan (which is, curiously, nearly always the case for sceattas). 

EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series E, primary phase, variety G4 (XAZO)), minted: Frisia; 695-715/720
Obv: Quilled crescent or 'porcupine' with sharp V (only proximal end attached to spine); distal part of spine ending with in two pellets. Parts of letters Z and O below, largely off-flan.
Rev: Beaded standard with central pellet-within annulet, flanked by pellets and horizontal lines, all within dotted square border. Pellets and cross-pommee outside
Weight: 1.16g; Ø:11.6 mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Ex. Lockdales auction 135, 14/05/2016, lot 1359
Ex. Hanson auction 26/08/2021, lot 370
Ex. Victor Parson 03-2023; acq.: 03-2023
Find location: Unknown Published: No


Thanks for looking!

Edited by Roerbakmix
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Nice interesting varieties. How do the Op den Velde Sub-varieties work with the usual Series e.g. Series E is Primary but Sub-variety K is Secondary?

I happen to have a Saroaldo, but it's the type with the legend on the standard instead of a saltire cross.

Saroaldo Primary Phase Sceatta, 680-710
Essex. Silver, 1.00g. Profile bust right with saltire cross before. Standard with tufa left side and FIT / RV in two lines within with SAROALDO around (S 784; SCBI 69 138 Plate Coin).

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Very cool coins and great work on spotting the misidentified rarity!

I haven't shared this one before. It's only my second sceatta and I still have much to learn about these King Arthur coins. So greatly appreciate your posts on the subject.

It too has some find dirt on it, though the dark toning makes me think it's not newly unearthed.

 The auction house that I bought it from is new, but I believe they correctly identified it, but any corrections are appreciated:


ANGLO-SAXON. Continental Sceattas. Circa AD 715/20-740. AR Sceatt. Series E, Secondary ('Kloster Barthe') phase, sub-variety d. Mint in southern Frisia.

Obv: 'Porcupine' right, three lines in body, two annulets to lower right.

Rev: Standard with corrupted TOTII legend.

EMC 2012.0213; M&OdV variety C, sub-variety d; Abramson 94-10; MEC 8 Series Eg; SCBC 790.

Condition: Very fine, dark toning.

Weight: 1,19g.

Diameter: 11mm.

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Thanks for the replies! The SEROALDO type of @John Conduittis a nice example of a scarce variety of an already scarce series. I would be happy to have it in my collection!

On 5/9/2023 at 11:05 PM, John Conduitt said:

How do the Op den Velde Sub-varieties work with the usual Series e.g. Series E is Primary but Sub-variety K is Secondary?

In general, Op den Velde is a bit vague, and their naming of the series counterintuitive:

Primary phase (695-715): 

  • Plumed bird
  • VICO
  • Variety G
  • Variety D

Secondary phase (715-755):

  • Subvariety a-i (small letters, not capital)
  • subvariety k (omitting subvariety j for some reason)

Tertiary phase (>755):

  • Variety E
  • Variety AF
  • Variety B
  • Variety F

The two books (book 1 is the study and description of the varieties, book 2 is the die study) could have benefitted enormously with some clear description of distinctive characteristics (e.g. the major distinction between primary phase Var G and tertiary phase Var E is the beak, the triangle, which is attached at the distal end for Var E, and not for Var G). You really have to read 'between the lines' to find this essential information. A flow chart would probably help, and I'm in the process of making something like that. 

Note however that their work is freely accessible here:


 > and then search for 'sceatta'. 


On 5/9/2023 at 11:24 PM, Ryro said:

M&OdV variety C, sub-variety d

@Ryro, that's a really nice coin, I like the dark toning and the high relief. The identification is partly incorrect: there is no 'Variety C'. I'll take you through my process of identification following M&OdV (see link above)

1) the reverse is a TToII type, a replica of primary phase series (note: not variety) A and C. Secondary phase subvariety b, c and d have this reverse. The main distinction between subvar. c and d is the number of crosslets outside the dotted square border: for subvar. b, there are 8 crosslets; for subvar c and d, there can be crosslets, or other symbols in the margin. As these are usually off-flan, distinction can be tricky, however, on your coin, I would go for subvar c or d as in the upper left corner, there is a moon-shaped C and not a crosslet. 

2) then the obverse. For subvar b, this closely copies the VICO obverse (spine with three - four vertical lines below). Subvariety c shows a bit variety, but again, largely copies the VICO obverse. For your coin, which is unusual in the pelleted outline of the spine, and the large dot at the most distal end of the spine, we'll have to look at subvar. d ... 

... which is included in the corpus: 


It appears your coin is an obv. and rev. die match to obv. chain 1430-1444 and rev. chain 1431-1444 (note also the moonlike crescent on the upper left corner of 1432). 

So: secondary phase subvariety d, diechain 1431-1444. 

Edited by Roerbakmix
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