This silver sceatta, which is shown greatly enlarged, was unearthed by Philip Clark. As is the case with many sceattas found by detectorists, it started its life on the Continent rather than England.
On the obverse is a stylised bird with a bulbous body, ‘plumes’ along its back, talons facing backwards and a cross pommee below the head and tail feathers. Within a square standard formed of pellets on the reverse is a central circle with a trefoil of pellets above and below and bars at either side. All these characteristics add up to the obverse of this sceatta being an example of series E, class K of the ‘plumed bird’ type; this is combined with a reverse of the ‘bar and trefoil’ variety.
The obverse of ‘plumed bird’ type usually has a reverse with five rings in the standard. Having a reverse of the ‘bar and trefoils’ variety turns Philip’s find into a very rare coin.
Tony Abramson auction of “plumed bird” sceatas
When the Continental portion of the collection of sceattas formed by Tony Abramson was sold in September of last year it contained six examples of the ‘plumed bird’ type. Only one coin had a ‘bar and trefoil’ reverse, which seems to confirm its rarity. At the auction most of the coins sold for over their pre-sale estimate; only one didn’t: the very rare specimen with the ‘bar and trefoil’ reverse. It was an attractive coin, in good VF condition, with a £120-180 estimate but the hammer price was £110. Some of the other ‘plumed bird’ sceattas were in even better condition.
This would seem to confirm what I have said on a number of occasions, which is that collectors today seem now to be much more interested in the quality of coins than in their rarity.
Valuation of Philip’s coin
If I was cataloguing Philip’s coin for sale at auction I’d set the pre-sale estimate at £120 – £180. It should achieve a figure within that range, provided that it wasn’t surrounded by other sceattas in better condition