When the orientation of pellets makes a difference

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roerbakmix, Apr 21, 2021.

  1. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    This sceatta, my 42th, was offered to me recently. It's a continental sceatta, minted in Frisia during the Anglo-Saxon age (Series E, plumed bird variety K).
    EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: AR Sceatta (Serie E, plumed bird variety K), minted: Frisia; 680-725 AD
    Obv: Plumed bird to the right, tail ending in three straight lines; cross-pommee between tail and claws, two pellets below straight beak; pellets in field
    Rev: Central pellet-within-annulet, four pelleted straight lines around, typicial > < formation of pellets on the sides
    Weight: 1.25g; Ø:11.6mm. Catalogue: No die match in JMP 2010. Provenance: Ex. Hollandia Numismatics; acq.: 04-2021

    In their seminal work, The Monetary Economy of the Netherlands, c. 690 - c. 760 and the Trade with England: A Study of the 'Porcupine' Sceattas
    of Series E
    , Michael Metcalf and Wybrand Op den Velde distinguish four varieties of the plumed bird sceatta, mostly based on the reverse:
    Variety J and K are identical, with the sole difference of the orientation of the two groups of pellets on the reverse: for variety J, the central annulet is flanked by three pellets in this orientation < o >, and for variety K, its > o <. On variety L, the body of the bird is somewhat more tubular and abstract, and the reverse is different with five annulets. Variety M is a mule with the Series G reverse, of which only a small (<10) number of specimens are known.

    I'm not quite sure why Metcalf and Op den Velde stopped here: I identified three other mules, two of which (interestingly) were known by the authors:
    Number 163 combines the TT O II reverse of the Anglo Saxon series A, C and R with the plumed bird; and number 164 combines a reverse of Series E, sub-variety E; I've discussed these two varieties in more length here. In that same thread, I added a new variety, which is apparently unique:
    Metcalf and Op den Velde provided no reason why the mule (variety M) was included, and the other two mules not. So, in total, there appear to be seven known varieties:
    Of these, I owned Var J, Var L, Var O and Var P; the variety K, M and N were missing. After today, I'll just have to find a Var M and N, which will probably be rather difficult.
    DonnaML, ominus1, Spaniard and 19 others like this.
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  3. AuldFartte

    AuldFartte Supporter! Supporter

    Fascinating writeup! I love seeing those sceattas. Thank you for the explanation of the position of the pellets.
  4. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's a very attractive coin and an erudite write-up. I was asking myself whether there is anything known about the significance of these reverse varieties? Are the differently shaped pellets merely decorative or do they have a specific meaning?

    I don't have any related coins to show, but I always enjoy reading your sceatta posts!
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