The upcoming sale of Ancient, British and Foreign Coins and Commemorative Medals at Spink contains a very special collection of silver commonwealth coinage which is sure to excite the collecting world, it also has a very good collection of ancient coins and a stunning Thrymsa.
One item from the Tisbury collection has famously been the subject of great debate within the numismatic community. Lot 815 is a Commonwealth (1649-60), pattern Halfcrown of 1651.
This unique pattern Halfcrown has been the object of long-standing numismatic debate regarding its production. It is unclear from whence it originated prior to 1971 when it appeared in Jess Peters Fixed Price List, but was the subject of an article in SNC of July/August of the same year by D. S. Freedman, who called it ‘unrecorded’ and attributed its manufacture to Peter Blondeau. This he substantiated through the high quality of the engraving, and the Halfcrown bearing the legend “GOD WITH VS” with the sun mintmark as these characteristics are present on the Blondeau patterns engraved by Thomas Simon, and not those of David Ramage. This argument overlooks the fact that coins of this design and legend type were already being produced by the tower mint before Blondeau first arrived in England, and so both this pattern and Blondeau’s later named patterns are likely emulating the same original design.
Despite this, there is still some scope to the claim that the coin is of Blondeau’s manufacture, as both are of very high quality and produced in a screw-press.
Later, in SNC November 1987 E. R. Nutbourne instead attributed the coin to Ramage as it bears similarities to his known Halfcrown pattern (see lot 814); namely smaller shields, a low number of harp strings, berries on the reverse frond, a twisted rope inner circle on the reverse and no mark of value. This opinion is echoed within ESC. The quality of the engraving, however, is far superior to that of Ramage’s other work; furthermore, Ramage struggled to produce but a dozen pieces to present before the committee in 1651, and of those the Shilling and Halfcrown share dies. Thus it is unlikely that he was able to find time to produce such a fine piece whilst developing his other designs. A real mystery!
Lot 815, estimated: £15,000 – 20,000
Another star item in the sale is lot 688, an Anglo-Saxon, Kent, Eadbald (616-40), gold Thrymsa or Shilling, a most attractive specimen, virtually as struck, the eighth presently known and extremely rare.
This enigmatic coin has been associated with the earliest issues of Anglo-Saxon gold coinage struck in post-Roman Britain ever since an example was recovered from the watershed 1828 Crondall Hoard deposit of c. AD 670. However it was not until the 20th Century that a more assertive attempt was made to associate this issue to the chronicled Kentish king Eadbald. The emergence of new specimens finally enabled the obverse inscription to be deciphered as reading the name ‘Audvarld‘. This spelling was immediately noted for its similarity to the ‘Auduarldus’ in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica (written c. AD 731).
Consequently, whilst one should be often cautious about drawing relationships between historical texts and physical evidence, today this type is generally accepted as having been struck in Eadbald’s name. This feature of ‘naming’ the king is quite simply outstanding for the period, and would not be replicated consistently for another half century and the Sceatta issues of Aldfrith of Northumbria (685-705). As such these eight examples exhibit the earliest known coin to be issued in the name of an English king.
Lot 688, estimated: £15,000 – 20,000
The catalogue is available online on the Spink website. For more information about the sale, please contact Richard Bishop at +44 (0)20 7563 4053 or [email protected].
SPINK LONDON | 69 Southampton Row | Bloomsbury | London | WC1B 4ET
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Spink is the world’s leading auctioneer of stamps, coins, paper money, medals, bonds & shares, autographs, books and wine. Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holder of royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offers an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide. Headquartered in London, with offices in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland, Spink holds over 70 auctions a year. Catalogues can be accessed through the Spink website (www.spink.com) or via the Spink App for iPhone and iPad.