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Styca of Osbert

This is the second Glenn Lister find to be featured this week. The first was Anglo-Saxon but this dates from a bit later and is a Northumbrian base metal styca.

This is a coin of Osbert, who was the last King of Northumbria (849/50 to 867). The striking of stycas ceased with the Viking invasion of Northumbria in AD 867. It could be argued that the styca coinage in the north was more advanced than elsewhere, for it provided lower face value coins that were far more useful for small scale monetary transactions.

On the obverse of this coin OSBER stands out clearly. On the reverse the moneyer’s name is rather blundered and could be one of at least two officials.


The flan is a bit irregular but the overall condition of the coin is about VF for the type. I’d price it at £60 to £70.

Stycas of Osbert used to be quite rare but this is no longer the case due to the number of specimens that have been found by detectorists. Just for interest I checked the prices in an old catalogue dating from 1960. The VF figure for Osbert was £3.50 and the VF figure for Aethelred II was 40p. Therefore, an Osbert styca was priced at nearly nine times more than a styca of Aethelred II. Today Osbert is priced at less than 50% more than Aethelred. The huge drop in price is due purely to the dilution of scarcity through detecting finds.

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