Ecgberht of Wessex Penny

An Anglo-Saxon coin of any description is on the wish-list of lots of detectorists. Some never locate a single specimen, whilst luckier searchers achieve their aim. Robert Hawker is one of the lucky ones, for he found the Anglo-Saxon coin shown here. It’s a Ecgberht of Wessex penny, who reigned between 802 and 839. This is a good length of time for an Anglo-Saxon king. As could be expected, his pennies include several types and varieties. They were struck at Canterbury, London, Rochester and Winchester.

Robert’s coin is a product of the Winchester mint and has on the obverse a SAXON monogram within the inner circle. On the reverse there is a cross pattee in the inner circle. The surrounding legend reads +IFA MONETA, so Ifa is the moneyer. The Standard Catalogue lists Ecgberht pennies of this type as number 1041 (a similar coin illustrated). In volume I of North’s English Hammered Coinage it is number 589. Robert said that when he found the coin it was bent and had a short crack but he had it expertly repaired by Barry Sherlock.

Valuation

As can be seen from the illustrations, a few scratches show up on the reverse but the coin looks to be perfectly flat and there is no sign of a crack. The only minus point us that it is grey in colour and looks as if it has been cleaned; therefore, it lacks the toning found on many Anglo-Saxon pennies. This might be its ‘as found’ colour but the snag is that it doesn’t look ‘natural’.

In 2018, an Ecgberht portrait penny (S. 1033) was sold at auction. It graded good VF with a few small striking cracks and sold for £3,800, which is below the VF catalogue price; it was probably the striking cracks that held it back.

Robert’s coin would grade VF+ but, as already mentioned, its colour might put off some prospective buyers. If I was cataloguing the coin for sale at auction, I would set the pre-sale estimate at £2,800-3,500 and would feel confident that it would attract a buyer.

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