Anglo-Saxon saucer brooch

Roger Paul sent in the image of this find but it was found by a colleague, Bob Piercy, a few weeks back. It is an early Anglo-Saxon copper-alloy saucer brooch, which measures an impressive 47mm in diameter and will date from the 6th century.

The fastening pin, which should be on the back, is missing but this brooch is otherwise in exceptional condition. The decoration on the front includes four masks and the gilded background is intact. I’ve seen several Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches as detecting finds but this is the largest and amongst the best.

Valuation

Like many antiquities, brooches of this type are not as rare as they used to be and this needs to be taken into consideration when providing a valuation. Below I give some details of recent auction prices.

Auction prices

On 21 November 2017 TimeLine Auctions offered for sale this saucer brooch (lot 321), which was 54mm in diameter and described as being in very fine condition. The pre-sale estimate was £1,800-2,400 but the brooch failed to sell. It was offered up again by TimeLine Auctions on 22 May 2018 as lot 465 but failed to sell with a lower estimate of £1,500. It was offered up for a third time in November 2018 as lot 2853 and with a pre-sale estimate of £1,000-1,400; this time it did sell for a hammer price of £1000.

More recently, in March of 2021 Hanson’s sold a pair of saucer brooches in exceptional condition, 41mm and 42mm in diameter, for a hammer price of £1,100.

The sale by TimeLine Auctions of the 54mm saucer brooch for £1,000 proves that there is a market for this type. However, that it took three attempts to sell highlights that fact that there is a limit to the price that byers will pay. Pairs usually sell for a higher figure than a single example, so the hammer price achieved at the Hanson’s auction suggests that a single saucer brooch 41-42mm in diameter in outstanding condition might sell for £500 at best.

Auction estimate

After taking into consideration recent auction prices for Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches, I’d say that a probable pre-sale auction estimate on Bob’s 47mm diameter would be around £600 – £700.

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