Added two sceatta's - Series B and R

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roerbakmix, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    Yesterday, together with @AnYangMan, I visited the largest coin fair in the Netherlands. I came home with these two lovely coins, both super difficult to capture because of the deep dark toning.

    First, although I try to focus on sceats from the continent (focusing on Magna Frisia), I couldn't resist this lovely type B sceatta (and especially because of the price at €175! I've eyeballed and bid on several type B's recently, and all sold above 400 USD in similar condition.)
    ANGLO-SAXON, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series BIb, type 27b), minted: Mint in Essex or East Anglia; c 685-700
    Obv: Diademed bust right, breaking inner border; blundered legend around
    Rev: Bird standing right upon cross; annulets flanking and two dots below; all within ouroboros (snake eating its own tail); three annulets below, blundered legend around
    Weight: 1.19g; Ø:12mm. Catalogue: Abramson 16.10 (I dont own this catalogue yet, but a almost identical one sold in CNG). Provenance: Coin fair Houten; acq.: 09-2020
    Very pleasing dark toning.

    The second is much better in hand than on the photo. The low weight suggests a contemporary immitation, and some other details as well:
    - on the obverse, the legend at the left of the bust usually reads "o^o"; here its reads "ovo", i.e. the "v" is flipped upside down.
    - on the obverse, the legend in the front is usually runic; here it seems to be Latin (OIIXV)
    - I have never seen a similar reverse type on any sceatta. We see a dotted square, divided in four equal quadrants by a cross (each line of the cross ending in crosses); within each quadrant a "V", all around a central annulet.

    ANGLO-SAXON, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Series R), minted: ;
    Obv: Debased head to the right, runic legend in front and behind
    Rev: Square standard divided in four equal parts by a cross; within V's
    Weight: 0.72g; Ø:11mm. Catalogue: . Provenance: Coin fair Houten; acq.: 09-2020

    As usual, I would appreciate any additional information. I hope @Nap would show some of his type B and R and provide some background: I don't really know that much about these two distinct types.
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  3. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    I completely forgot about that fair! :(

    Nice coins, but im no help with these...
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  4. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Very nice coins. Sceattas are fascinating.

    I too have a Series BI Type 27b, although mine was dated 675-690 by CNG:

    AR primary sceatta, series BI A/C, type 27b. 675-690, Essex or East Anglia. 13mm, 1.12g (Abramson 16.40; MEC 8 Series B, 50-4; North 126; SCBC 777).

    I don't know much more about it though. Sceattas are enigmatic.

    The serpent eating its own tail could represent several things - the disorder surrounding the orderly world; the cyclical nature of the year; 'Middle Earth' (the only realm visible to man, where the impassable ocean is encircled by a serpent); or eternity. The dove and the cross are clearly Christian - the imagery deliberately appealed to both pagan and Christian faiths.

    I looked up the Saxon rulers in those areas at the time: Sighere (664-683) and Sæbbi (664-694) were joint rulers in Essex, and Ealdwulf was king of Wuffingas (663-713).

    Sighere and Sæbbi were converted to Christianity by missionaries from Rome. Sighere, an ally of Wessex, returned to paganism. Sæbbi, an ally of Mercia, didn't. Their rivalry led to King Wulfhere of Mercia becoming overlord of Essex.

    Ealdwulf had a long reign in East Anglia. He made successful alliances and fostered stability and growth, especially in its commercial centre at Gipeswic (Ipswich). He traded heavily with Saxony, Jutland and Frisia.

    According to the Venerable Bede, in his childhood Ealdwulf saw a Christian/Pagan temple built by his ancestor Rædwald (possibly the owner of the helmet found at Sutton Hoo - if you're British that's the most iconic Saxon artefact there is). Rædwald had converted to Christianity but his pagan wife persuaded him to add Christian and pagan altars.

    Given Ealdwulf's long, stable reign and apparent wealth, and the coin's reconciliatory symbolism appealing to both pagans and Christians, I like to think it's one of his.
  5. AnYangMan

    AnYangMan Well-Known Member

    It was an absolute pleasure visiting the show in Houten yesterday and browsing through all the albums with you, @Roerbakmix! I turn my back to him for five minutes to talk to a dealer I know and then boom. He bought two more sceattas without batting an eye. I really think you have a serious sceat(ta)-problem….

    The reverse of the series B is even more stunning in hand I must say! Your series R seems to be a Series R type 10; With the name of Wigra(e)d (ᚹIᚷᚱᚨᛞ) in runes rather than the traditional EPA (there are no runes behind the bust, that is just his ear and some decoration ;)). Quite rare and fascinating: while it is difficult to interpret the most common runic inscription of EPA, Wigraed is quite unambiguously a name! But of who or what? A local ruler? Moneyer? King? A generic placeholder? Who knows… And no, I am not jealous of that splendid coin with a fascinating story. No not at all! :shifty:

    Saw a couple of other collectors at the show (including our very own @altaycoins, it was a pleasure to meet you again!). Anyone else of the Dutch contingent here that visited the show? @Pellinore or @THCoins?
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  6. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    Thank you for replies and additional information! @John Conduitt: that's a really nice sceatta. I like it when they are a bit off-center so that you can see the legend that's usually off-flan, as yours. Thanks also for the historical context.

    @AnYangMan: that's dedication: I showed the photo to you at 21:39 and at 01:23, you posted this entry on CT :) I believe you're absolute right regarding the type (ᚹIᚷᚱᚨᛞ) which indeed seems to be scarce: the Ashmolean museum lists three (with identical dies, it seems) sceats of this type; and Abramsons' Sceatta list three other (with one similar, but not identical reverse type).

    I'll try to rephotograph both coins later: they are indeed much better in hand.

    I found what I believe to be an obverse and reverse die match in the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAN):
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
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  7. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for mentioning me, @AnYangMan, I had been planning to go, but I had second thoughts because of Covid risks - was Houten a safe place after all?
    To make up for it, last week I bought three nice Celts, a pale dinar of the 11th century and a rare bronze of Bari, Italy, about 1140. I will show them here soon (or on World of Coins with its experts on islamic coinage).
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  8. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    I avoided Houten for the same reason Paul did, to many people. Where i live we really see new infection numbers rising. As i work in a hospital i have to take social distancing serious. But that gave some space for you guys !
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    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @Roerbakmix, @John Conduitt, and @AnYangMan, those are all really, truly (kindly pardon the anachronistically British English) Splendid.
    I don't have the budget for sceattas, but they couldn't be more historically resonant, and they have an inexorable esthetic appeal.
    (...What I collect in place of them are petits deniers /mailles of this (your) general part of the world, but from half a millennium or so later. ...Nearest that I can get!)
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  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    These are really interesting, though I don't know too terribly much about them. I have only owned one.

    I find the ouroboros motif particularly interesting.



    CNG description:

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  11. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    Series R10 Wigraed. More to follow
  12. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    British Anglo-Saxon. Secondary Sceattas. Circa AD 710-765. AR Sceatt (11mm, 1.15 g, 3h). Series R3, type 77b. mint in East Anglia. Obv: Radiate bust right on pyramidal neck; OΛ behind; runic epa before. Rev: 'Standard' with central pellet-in-annulet, chevrons and Is in opposing angles; at each corner, line flanked by pellets. Ref: Abramson 11.40; SCBI 69 (Abramson), 660; North 157; SCBC 813. From the Ealing Collection, purchased from Mike R. Vosper, March 1996. Ex CNG.

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  13. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Wow, @Edessa, that's terrific. Especially with the (why lie?) secure Anglo-Saxon attribution. (Is that one criterion for distinguishing secondary from primary ones?) ...Needing the runes. After the (ahem) portrait, and the Latin 'M.'
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  14. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    Not sure the point you're making. Do you think the series R sceat is not Anglo-Saxon?
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  15. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    This coin is probably a variant of series R, type 10, also known as "Wigraed type". The legend is blundered on your coin and the metal quality looks quite base, so it very well may be a contemporary imitation. Certainly the name Wigraed is spelled wrong, runic or not. The reverse is a little different than the standard type, but it's still within range of the regular type. Abramson depicts a coin very similar to yours in type 11-150.

    My series R Wigraed sceat has some differences obviously but is also somewhat debased, so maybe this is just standard for the type.

  16. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @Nap, the cause of the confusion --besides my ellipticality-- was the frankly pedestrian level on which I customarily relate to sceattas. (Thanks, All, for the help with that! Only starting with @Roerbakmix, you guys's posts are absolutely top-drawer.) The primary, and effectively only taxonomic divide in my mind is between the Frisian and the Anglo-Saxon ones. At the level of classes, you're already over my head.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  17. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    What I really understand about the subject could fit on a Tetartemorion, but this is where the series is placed by Metcalf, based on find spots and stylistic analysis (map below). And of course, the many decades of previous scholarship.

    Metcalf: Thrymsas and Sceattas in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Volume III:
    "The main primary and secondary runic series is quite complicated enough on its own without confusing the picture by introducing untested assumptions about coins which may in fact belong to other regions. A stylistic analysis, in conjunction with chemical analysis and average weights, quickly clears the ground and shows that almost all specimens of Series R belong to one or another of about a dozen coherent and readily identifiable groups. There is a good correlation between alloy, runes and style in the more plentiful groups. The series falls into two parts, namely coins with a bust, i.e. a head with a neck, and those with just a head. The former are of better silver, varying from c.95 per cent down to about half silver. The latter are mostly below 40 per cent, falling eventually to as little as 2 to 3 per cent. The distinction between bust and head is, obviously, chronological; it defines two phases."

    There is an interesting discussion by Naismith in MEC 8 about whether the epa signature had "originated as a moneyer's name in Kent in the late seventh century, although it certainly had become immobilized in RS...". Moneyer's names start again on the next iteration, as the silver content drops.

    Thanks for the observation...I appreciate any excuse to spend time in my reference books!

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  18. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @Edessa. ...You guys Rock.
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  19. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    Very interesting @Nap. With help of @AnYangMan and personal communication with Tony Abramson, I had already figured out the correct identification. However, little information is available online, and your post gave me some additional information. E.g.; you write that the runic inscription of WIGRAED is "certainly" spelled wrong: what does it read (I'm not able to read runic)?

    Also, the WIGRAED type appears to be scarce. I've found only 10 or so (ACsearch, Sixbid, PAN, Fitzwilliam, the de Wit collection (kunker), sceatta list by Abramson, random google searches, and cointalk (ie yours) combined). I do not own the standard work by Metcalf yet (on the lookout for it): but what other sources do you usually search?

    @Edessa that's a wonderful series R, with superb toning and nice provenance. Do you have other sceatta's to share?

    @+VGO.DVCKS I really appreciate the compliments. However, it's not really too difficult to get a basic knowledge about sceatta's in general. I know a thing or two about continental (i.e. series D and E; resp. bust/cross and 'porcupine'/standard sceatta's), however, the true Anglo-Saxon sceatta's are just as abstract as the series D-E where to me a year ago. (Which is what I like about coin collection: the steep learning curves that are possible.)
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  20. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    I use the Early Medieval Corpus and the Portable Antiquities Scheme for my initial references when researching Anglo-Saxon coins. Then acsearch, and the auction archives for Spink, DNW, and CNG.

    The Wigraed type is scarce but I suspect there are at least 50-75 known.

    I call your blundered because it appears to be. Compare with mine. Yours looks like it reads ᛁᛁᚷᚱ. Mine is ᚹᛁᚷᚱᚨᛞ. The latter is the proper Runic spelling of Wigraed.
  21. Nap

    Nap Well-Known Member

    Much of what we think we know about sceats is still incomplete. New finds add to our knowledge. We used to think series G was from Wessex England, now we are pretty convinced it’s Quentovic. I suspect at least the base coins of series J, which circulated widely in the north of England and are thought to be from York (which has never sat right with me), may also be continental. There’s lots still to learn about these.
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