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Research Coins: Printed Auction

Sale: CNG 72, Lot: 2417. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 June 2006. 
Sold For $240. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ANGLO-SAXON, Primary Sceattas. Circa 680-700. AR Sceatta (1.23 g, 6h). Series A, variety 2. Mint in Kent. Radiate bust right; TIC to right, two annulets and A-like ornament behind / ‘Standard’ with TOT II; triangle with pellets above, pseudo-legend around. Metcalf 89; North 40; SCBC 775. Good VF, toned.

From the Andrew Wayne Collection.

This coinage was minted from the reign of King Hlothere (673-685) to King Wihtred (686-725) of Kent.

Early Anglo-Saxon Silver Coinage (Sceattas)

For almost two centuries following the end of Roman domination in the early fifth century AD, Britain was virtually devoid of coinage, though remnants of the Roman coinage and its imitations ('barbarous radiates') continued to be used in isolated exchanges. The use of coinage was re-introduced in the mid-sixth century as trade between the Anglo-Saxons and the Merovingians grew. Unlike Britain, Merovingian France retained at least a partial monetary economy after the end of the empire. The result in Britain was the development of coinage similar to that of the Merovingians. The British silver sceatta paralleled the Merovingian silver units both in weight and size, as well as its use of iconography. As the sceattas and their Merovingian counterparts were mostly devoid of any readable legends, the iconography used was important in identifying the source of the coinage. This was imperative in trade, so that the parties involved would be able to recognize the coinage as a legitimate and valuable commodity. The importance of recognizable iconography is reflected by both the adoption of standardized types and the existence of forgeries and imitations copying the types used. So robust was the economy in Britain that over one hundred individual types were used on the sceattas. While the issuers of some of these coins are certainly royal authorities, the source of most are as yet unknown, although many can be assigned to a particular region and time frame. Modern studies of the sceattas have shown three phases of production–primary, intermediate, and secondary, which are further divided into series, and then types within each series. The primary phase, circa 680-710, is comprised of the earliest series of sceattas, and these series are mostly placed in southeast Britain and Northumbria. The intermediate phase, from circa 710-720, is characterized by a huge influx of foreign sceattas into Britain, which precipitated the vast amount of British coinage developed in the subsequent secondary phase, circa 710-760. Sceattas that have a foreign origin, but that are commonly found in Britain, are classified as 'Continental' sceattas. The sceatta remained the silver unit in the British monetary system until Offa's reform in the mid-late 700s, which was also influenced by events in France–a similar reform of Pépin le Bref (the Short) in the 750s. The sole exception was the kingdom of Northumbria, whose relatively isolated economy, unaffected by the reform, continued to use sceattas until the mid- to late- ninth century, when the kingdom was overrun by the Vikings.