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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Barter Coinage in Iron Age Britain

CNG 85, Lot: 139. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $1700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CELTIC, Britain. Ring money. Circa 1150-750 BC. AV 16mm diameter (3.94 g). Single shaft of gold with multiple twists and pointed terminals, the whole curved into a ring. Van Arsdell p. 61, fig. 1-1; LHS 100, lot 1; UBS 59, lots 4002-3. Good VF.

From the Marie Karlsson Collection.

Prior to the use of regular round struck or cast coinage, the Celts employed items of various shapes and metals for trade. Although not conclusively identified as an early form of money, these rings have been found in coin hoards and do bear some resemblance to other Celtic objects accepted as "proto-money", such as small bronze or potin wheels. R.D. Van Arsdale, in his book Celtic Coins in Britain, notes that precious-metal rings such as this "may have had multiple functions; as items of personal adornment (many were hair ornaments), as a means of displaying wealth, and as a medium of exchange. The weights and diameters vary, making it difficult to establish whether denominations existed."