England (Anglo-Saxon): silver penny of Aethelred II, struck ca. 997-1003 AD

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by lordmarcovan, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    England (Anglo-Saxon): silver penny of Aethelred II, struck ca. 997-1003 AD



    Obverse: bust of Aethered II facing left.
    Reverse: Long cross.

    Canterbury Mint, issued 997-1003 AD. Spink-1151. PCGS MS63, cert #29851544. Formerly in an ICG AU55 holder, #5358340110. Ex-Michael Swoveland of WNC Coins, in a private North Carolina swap, 7/20/2013.

    By the late 12th century, 150 years or so after his death, Aethelred II of England was referred to as "Aethelred The Unready" for his supposed weakness in response to the invasions of the Danish Vikings. Despite this long-dead king's poor historical reputation, I have always loved this coin.

    Because it is a Mint State survivor, I have little doubt that this piece came from a buried hoard, though unfortunately that specific provenance did not follow it into the numismatic marketplace. Being possessed of a rather romantic historical imagination, I like to dream that it was found in a Viking-era ship burial. While that's within the realm of possibility, we'll never know for sure. Aethelred the Unready paid a lot of coined silver to the Vikings as Danegeld, and thousands of these coins ended up in tombs and other buried hoards in England and Scandinavia.

    My friend Michael Swoveland first showed the coin to me in the late summer of 1994. At the time, both he and I were avidly collecting English coins, which is how we struck up our friendship. We were younger and on much smaller budgets at the time (and mine still isn't that big), so a coin of this caliber was a major coup for him. I was properly green with envy. After we transitioned to the Internet in the late 1990s, Michael adopted the handle "Aethelred" on Collectors Universe, and was initially "aethelred.ii" on eBay, which goes to show how much this was his "signature" coin.

    I visited him in July of 2013 and we sat down to a coin swap, just like old times. I had a few nice Roman coins he wanted, and to my astonishment, he offered this coin to me as part of the complex deal. Acquiring it took away every trace of "swappers remorse" I might have had in parting with some of my better Romans. In 2014, I cracked it out of the old ICG AU55 holder he'd gotten and submitted it to PCGS. I was delighted to get an MS63 grade in addition to a much more accurate TrueView image. Michael and I had always considered this to be a Mint State coin, so the PCGS grade was vindication. Since it took me nineteen years to acquire, this coin is special to me, and it's likely to remain a part of my collection for quite some time.

    Miscellaneous links:
    PCGS cert verification page (w/TrueView image link)
    Previous thread about this coin (Collectors Universe, 10/2013)
    Prior owner's thread about this coin (Collectors Universe, 03/2007)

    Wikipedia links:
    Æthelred the Unready
    History of the English penny (from ca. 600-1066 AD)

    When posted here, this coin was part of my "Eclectic Box of 20" collection.

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
    dadams, H8_modern, chrsmat71 and 4 others like this.
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  3. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful coin and the great backstory. I'm glad to hear your resubmission netted you the grade you had hoped.
    dadams and lordmarcovan like this.
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