King Offa Penny

Roger Paul said he unearthed this coin many years since but he now wants an up-to-date valuation. It’s a penny of King Offa of Mercia, whose dates are AD 757 to 796. Pennies of this king used to be very rare indeed but over the years detectorists have managed to find lots of examples. However, even though many more are known, they usually sell for high prices.

On the obverse of Paul’s find is a cross potent within a beaded circle; the cross rests on a stepped base containing an inverted letter T; two more crosses are set at an angle on the steps. The legend on the obverse reads OFFA REX. In the centre of the reverse is a rosette, which is set within a lozenge-centred cross crosslet. The moneyer’s name, set in the angles of the cross crosslet, translates as OETHELRED.

In The Coinage of Offa and His Contemporaries (by Derek Chick, edited by Mark Blackburn and Rory Naismith) this type is listed as number 176. It belongs to the light coinage and was struck in East Anglia. When this reference work was published only two specimens of type 176 were on record. This type is very similar to 175 and 177.

Valuation

Lot 85 in the sale of Part One of the Lord Stewartby collection was a type 177 penny of Offa. It was described as being in VF condition but with loss to the outer edge from 9 to 11 o’clock; the pre-sale estimate was £1,200-1,500 but it failed to sell. At a later date (December 2019), in a Spink sale, a number of Offa pennies did not do particularly well. There was a time when any Offa penny would achieve a good price but today collectors are more choosey; outstanding coins still have a strong following but the market for those with defects is much narrower. Additionally, nowadays far more specimens appear on the market than only a couple of decades since.

Paul’s Offa penny would grade good VF for the issue, has no faults and is an extremely rare type. Therefore, there is nothing to put off potential buyers. If it was offered for sale at auction then the pre-sale estimate shouldn’t be any lower than £2,200.

What the eventual hammer price would be would depend on the extent of the competition in the saleroom.

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