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Anglo-Saxon Penny of Offa

I have known Glenn Lister for many years but as is the case with hundreds of other detectorists, I’ve never met him face to face. If I ever win the lottery I’ll organise a huge get-together, at which I will know everybody but recognise hardly anyone.

Glenn sent in the find pictured here. It’s an early Anglo-Saxon penny of Offa of Mercia. On the obverse in three lines is M OFFA REX, which translates as Offa King of Mercia. On the reverse is a large quatrefoil with + L V L in the angles, so Lul is the moneyer. At this time a lot of moneyers had very short names but they tended to lengthen as time marched on.

In The Coinage of Offa and His Contemporaries (by Derek Chick, edited by Mark Blackburn and Rory Naismith) this type is listed as number 251. It belongs to the heavy coinage of East Anglia and was struck circa 792-96. When this reference work was published (2010) five specimens of type 251 were on record. The five weren’t all exactly the same so this type includes minor varieties.


Sadly, Glenn’s find has suffered from being in the soil for close to 1,200 years. Only a small part of the outer edge has survived, all the rest has been lost and there are two large pieces missing; as it stands it has lost 25 to 30% of its fabric. Buyers are not at all keen on Anglo-Saxon coins in this condition. It’s a rarity but in its present state of preservation my most optimistic pre-sale auction estimate would be £200 – £300.

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