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Penny of King John

This coin came in from Sam Arnold. It’s a hammered silver penny, which has been bent across its centre. Sam referred to it as a pilgrims’ piece, presumably because he had been told that it had religious significance.

Some coins were turned into brooches by mounting a fastening pin on the obverse; the other side, invariably with a cross, was left on display. This turned a coin into both a brooch and something that advertised the religious nature of the wearer.

Examples of coins like the one found by Sam sometimes have the curved outer edges held tightly together but the bend still allows a piece of string to be placed through. They might have been worn as a cheap form of jewellery. This, though, is doubtful, for at the end of the day it would still be just a bent coin. They are not unusual as detecting finds and seem to start with voided short cross pennies and end with coins of Edward III. They might have some kind of religious significance and perhaps a reader or two might shed more light on it.


Sam wanted to know what value his find would have in comparison to the same coin if flat. Well, it’s a class Vb penny of King John. It looks to be in Fine or better condition and if it was flat the catalogue price is £60. In its present state, bent across the centre, it would be worth around £10. Sam said he would prefer to keep it as it is now. I agree with him. It was purposely bent for some reason back in the 13th century and the bend is an integral part of its history, so the coin should be left in its ‘as found’ condition.

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