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Penny of Alexander III

Phil Thomson said he found this coin in Dorset about three years since. It’s a Scottish hammered silver coin of Alexander III. I’ve seen lots of coins of this king but this one is rather special.

Instead of being a fairly common penny of the second coinage of Alexander III this one is a rarity from the first coinage. On the reverse the legend reads WA TER ONF RES, so Walter is the moneyer and Dumfries the mint. Not so long ago the FRES mint signature was uncertain but it is now believed to be Dumfries.

On the obverse is a head facing left with a sceptre in front. From the general style of the head I would identify this penny as being an example of class III of the first coinage.


The coin is a much better strike than most pennies of the first coinage. It has a few weak patches but would grade VF for this issue. It’s a very rare mint and should be of great interest to collectors of Scottish coins so if I was cataloguing it for sale at auction I’d set the pre-sale estimate at £800. With competition between prospective buyers in a saleroom the hammer price could be even higher.

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