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Reader finds rare gold shilling of Eadbald of kent

The coin pictured here was unearthed by Sean Peebles on the 26th of November (last Sunday) whilst detecting somewhere in Kent. It is made of gold, measures 11mm in diameter and Sean asked for a valuation. We’ve featured several gold coins on this website since it was set up but this one is certainly the most valuable.

On the obverse is a bust facing right with a cross on a globe above the nose. On this side the legend is difficult to make out and looks to be double struck at the start. Within the inner circle on the reverse is another cross on a globe, which is surrounded by a rather blundered legend.

The above information tells us that the coin is an early Anglo-Saxon gold shilling. If the whole of the legend on the obverse could be seen then it would read AVDVARLD REGES or a very similar reading. This shilling was struck for Eadbald of Kent (AD 616-40), who was the first English king to be named on a coin. The mint is not altogether certain but is most likely to be Canterbury.

In the Standard Catalogue coins of this type are listed as number 758-758A and in J. J. North’s English Hammered Coinage the reference number is 29. Roughly ten examples are known (at least four of them in museums) and there are variations in both the obverse and reverse dies.


I traced three specimens of the type that were sold at auction over fairly recent years. An EF example sold during 2016 realised £50,000; another EF example sold for $90,000 in 2017; the third example, this sold in 2021, had a double-struck obverse but was said to be virtually as struck and this realised £34,000.

Sean’s find is not quite as good as the specimen that realised £34,000 in 2021. However, it has a highly significant minus point in the shape of a dent on the cheek of the head on the obverse, which would have a real impact on its possible sale price. If I was cataloguing the coin for sale at auction then with the dent my pre-sale estimate would be no higher than £10,000-15,000. It is of great historical importance but a significant dent would deter the most wealthy and discerning collectors from bidding for it.

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