Aethelred II Penny

This attractive looking Anglo-Saxon penny was found by a detectorist who signed himself a Clint. It’s an example of the first small cross type of Aethelred II. Within the inner circle on the obverse there are three pellets, each joined by a curved line to Aethelred’s chest; the legend on this side reads +AETHELRED REX ANGLOR. On the reverse there is a small cross in the inner circle and the surrounding legend reads +AELFSTAN M-o BEDA, so Aelfstan is the moneyer and Bedford the mint.

In volume I of J. J. North’s English Hammered Coinage the types is listed as number 766 and in the Standard Catalogue it is number 1143. The type is very rare but Clint’s coin is an excessively rare reign, type, mint and moneyer combination.

Valuation

I traced three Aethelred II pennies of the first small cross type that had been sold at auction during the last couple of years.Number one (2018), York mint, described as being a little off centre but otherwise EF with a strong portrait, sold for £3,500. Number 2 (2019), York mint, described as about VF, sold for £2,600. Number three (2020), York mint, described as flan slightly wavy, otherwise VF and toned, sold for £2,600. In describing the first coin as EF, I think that the cataloguer was being somewhat optimistic. The grading of the other two was spot on.

As can be seen from the previous paragraph, Aethelred II first small cross pennies achieve very high prices. The obverse of Clint’s example would grade good VF and the portrait is exceptional. The reverse isn’t as sharp but there is no weakness and the legend stands out well. And, as already stated it is of great rarity.

If I was cataloguing this find for sale at auction I would place upon it a pre-sale estimate of £3,500 – £5,000.

It should go higher than the lower estimate and on a good day it could come closer to the higher figure. The best result would be achieved if there were two Bedford mint specialists in the saleroom: if both of them really wanted the coin then the hammer price could be anyone’s guess.

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