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Continental sterling of John the Blind

This is one of those coins that detectorists sometimes take it for granted that it is an Edward I penny. They only come to realise it isn’t when they try to decipher the legends.

The coin is another from the collection of detecting finds built up by Tony Hollis. Both sides copy the design of English pennies of Edward I but this coin is a Continental sterling.

On the obverse the legend reads +IOhANnES DEI GRA around a crowned bust. On the reverse the legend isn’t altogether clear but the most likely reading is REX BOE ETP OLO. This sterling was struck for John the Blind, whose dates are 1309 to 1346. The reverse states that he was King of Bohemia and of Poland.

In 1346 an English army under the command of the Black Prince (son of Edward III) came to grips with the army of France and its allies. The battle between the two sides was fought at Crecy and should have been won by the French. However, the English army had a better commander and his men were more determined. When the battle was going badly John the Blind and 500 knights, the elite of the Bohemian nobility, charged against the English; all but two were slaughtered. The Black Prince was so impressed by John’s bravery that he took his motto, Ich Dien, as his own. Thereafter it was used by every English Prince of Wales.


Tony’s find is in quite close to Fine condition and is quite rare. Were it an Edward I penny it might have been worth £20 but as a sterling of John thee Blind it should be worth £40 – £50 to a collector who hasn’t got an example of this type.

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