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Penny of William I

The person who sent in this coin asked to remain anonymous. The illustrations show that the coin appears to be a very attractive silver penny of William I.

The Norman conquest of England brought about many changes, some being swift whilst others took some time. Pennies of the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II, continued to circulate but alongside them were freshly struck coins of William I. At the numerous mints in operation at this time most moneyers kept their positions. However, over time most of them would be replaced by men owing their loyalty to the new landowners.

The Anglo-Saxon coinage was respected for its quality of production and the standard of its silver content. Wisely, the Normans did not interfere with the coinage. All the mints spread about England continued to produce coins in the same way as they had done before 1066.

Type I pennies of William I had an obverse very similar to the coins of Harold II. Type II of William I, which was probably introduced in 1068, had a facing bust on the obverse and this became known as the bonnet type.


The obverse of the coin featured here is an example of the bonnet type. On the reverse the legend reads +ELFPI ON OXE-ORD. Therefore, the moneyer’s name is an abbreviated version of Aelfwig and even though the central letter of the mint is unclear it must be Oxford. This reign, type, mint and moneyer combination is extremely rare and as long as the coin is genuine then in its present state of preservation my minimum price range would be £1,200 to £1,500.

In the photographs this coin looks to have good eye appeal and appears to be perfectly genuine. However, in the case of rare and/or unusual coins the first task is to ensure they are genuine. I did a quick check of the usual sources on the internet and, sadly, in a couple of minutes I traced copies of William I type II pennies bearing the name of Aelfpig as the moneyer and Oxford the mint being offered for sale. One advertisement had copies on offer at £4 and another source had the same copy at £2.49.

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