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William the Lion of Scotland, penny

If this coin entered a beauty contest then it would have no chance of being the winner. However, it is rather interesting. John Lashmar thought it could be Scottish but wanted to know what I thought about it.

Facing left on the obverse is a very crude head with a sceptre in front, the latter being merely a line. The head might crude but I’ve seen even worse representations than this. The full legend, were it visible, would read LE REI WILAM, which translates from French as The King William. Therefore, this is a penny of William the Lion of Scotland, whose dates are 1165 to 1214.

On the reverse is a voided short cross with hooked ends and stars in the angles. The legend is mostly flat but h+S shows up. The letter S is the start of the legend and the lower case letter h is the end of it. This penny was struck during phase B of the short cross coinage of William the Lion. Most coins issued during this phase have the joint names of Hue and Walter as moneyers on the reverse. John’s coin is different and rarer. If the full reverse legend was visible it would read SVRELIRNEh, which is hENRI LE RVS in reverse (see number 5031 in Coins of Scotland, Ireland and the Islands).


I’ve seen scores of phase B pennies of William the Lion but this is the first one naming Henry le Rus on the reverse. The coin is certainly a rarity but in its present condition – only Fair – my highest price range would be £50 – £60.

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