Henry III voided long cross penny

The finder of this Henry III voided long cross penny wished to remain anonymous. Coins of this type turn up very regularly as detecting finds but this one is rather special. The detectorist who unearthed the coin said that a collector wanted to buy it.

On the reverse the legend reads STE – – – NEO (E and O ligate) NSE, so Stephane is the moneyer and Bury St. Edmunds the mint. This moneyer was an official at Bury St. Edmunds for only one class during the voided long cross coinage: Vg. The collector who wants to buy the coin identified it as being stuck from Eaglan die C.

In 1998 Bury St. Edmunds Medieval Art, Architecture, Archaeology and Economy was published. Included in this reference work was a chapter entitled ‘The Mint at Bury St. Edmunds’ by R. J. Eaglan. Amongst many other things, this listed the class Vg dies bearing the name of Stephane. I don’t have a copy of Eaglan’s reference work so had to do research the hard way, by searching through numerous sale catalogues.

Five different class Vg dies are known bearing the name of Stephane: A, B, C, D and E. I eventually traced down a specimen of Eaglan die C, which was sold on 15 March 2006. Part of the description in the sale catalogue read “. . . excessively rare of these dies, only two specimens recorded.”

Valuation

The finder of this coin said that in the Standard Catalogue the only figure given for Henry III class Vg is £25 in Fine condition. This, though, is the figure for common coins of class Vg, so he had no idea of the value of rare varieties. Therefore, he contacted me to ask what his find might be worth.

All Bury St. Edmunds pennies bearing the name of Stephane are rare but some are rarer than others. In the past rare die combinations in good condition have sold for high prices in comparison to common cons from other mints.

The coin under discussion has the obverse struck off centre, there is a bend to the edge and one quarter on the reverse is weak; the rest of the coin is clear and would grade Fine. However, it does not have much eye appeal. The greater part of its value is in the fact that it is of considerable rarity but it belongs to a highly specialised sphere. Today it is the state of preservation that is uppermost in the minds of most collectors.

This coin would be of interest to specialists in the mint of Bury St. Edmonds but due to its overall condition few others would wish to add it to their collections. So, what would be a fair price to ask for it? Well, if I was cataloguing it for sale at auction I would set the pre-sale estimate no higher than £60 – £80. If two specialists entered into a bidding battle it night break through the upper limit but that is by no means certain.

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