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Penny of Henry Murdac

This coin was unearthed by Ian Sharman on the 1st of March. It was made during the reign of Stephen but was struck for Henry Murdac, who at the time was Archbishop of York.

On the obverse is a crowned head with a collar decorated with annulets, a crozier and a star in front and if the whole of the legend was visible then it would read HENRICVS EPC. Within the inner circle on the reverse is a cross pattee with fleur de lis in the angles and on this side the legend reads STEPHANVS REX.

When was the coin struck? Murdac was recognised as Archbishop in 1150 but only entered York in January of 1151 and died on 14 October 1153. Therefore, the most probable time of issue is between the last two dates. This seems more likely than any earlier period, even though Murdac had been Archbishop of York since 1148.

In 2021, a reader sent in a cut halfpenny of Henry Murdac. In my report on that coin, The story of Henry Murdac – a penny of Stephen, is the full historical background to this coinage.


This is an extremely rare coin but the state of preservation leaves something to be desired. There are flat areas on both sides, a piece missing from the edge and a larger piece only just managing to hang on. An example of the same coin in VF condition was sold at auction in 2021 and the hammer price was £18,000. Fairly obviously, Ian’s coin would be likely to sell for a good deal less. If I was cataloguing this coin for sale at auction then in its ‘as found’ condition I would set the pre-sale estimate no higher than £6,000 to £8,000.

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