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GM23693

Aethelred II, Penny, first hand type, Newark Mint, moneyer Aethestan

Aethelred II (978-1016),silver Penny, first-hand type (c.979-985), Newark Mint, Moneyer Aethestan, diademed bust right, Latin legend and linear circles surrounding, +ÆÐELRÆD REX ANGLOX, rev.hand of Providence from straight clouds, A and hyphen to left, w and hyphen to right, Latin legend and linear circles surrounding, + ÆÐESTAN MO NIPAN., weight 1.54g (BMC II; BEH -; N.766; S.1144).Unevenly toned, perforation at one part of inner circle, some weaknesses, otherwise about very fine and extremely rare.

North lists 73 named mints in operation during the reign of Aethelred II with a further 14 unallocated. According to North Newark operates with one moneyer Leofwine in only the last small cross and this coin is a new addition to the mint since publication.

Though Aethelred enjoyed such a long reign he was known as "The Unready" literally meaning ill-counselled from a history of bad advice and decision making. Born circa 967 Aethelred was supported by his mother and partisans that were led by Earl Aelfhere of Mercia; ascending the throne at no more than 12 years of age after the murder of his Half-Brother Edward at Corfe. The influential Aelfhere having died in 983 meant Aethelred became more vulnerable, and the Vikings began to start their raids once again. Aethelred chose to pay off the raiders rather than resist, becoming known for giving such ransoms payments willingly. This meant many hundreds of thousands of coins ended up being taken to Scandanavia where they were hoarded and why much of the coinage that survives today often exhibits "peck marks" where the Viking bankers have inserted a knife point to make sure the metal quality was good. The harrying continued until Swein Forkebeard held a great swathe of England by 1013, and Aethelred was under threat in London retreating to the Isle of Wight. England submitted to Swein but he died suddenly on the 2nd February 1014 at Gainsborough giving Aethelred the advantage and driving the Vikings out. Canute the second son of Swein, returned to attack in 1015 and by early 1016 was marching on Mercia, Aethelred however passed away on 23rd April 1016 in London at around the age of 52 just as his second son Edmund was moving south to link up with the army. Edmund was elected King, but the army was his priority, and after winning a few battles suffered a defeat at Ashingdon on 18th October 1016. He retreated possibly wounded to West Mercia and negotiated a treaty giving him rule of Wessex. However, Edmund died in Oxford on the 30th November 1016 giving control to Canute.

Newark in Nottinghamshire is some 18 miles from Nottingham on the River Devon near junction with the Trent. A castle was built in 1123 by Bishop Alexander and held for the Earl of Leicester against the Bishop of Lincoln in 1139. Much later the town played a numismatic part in the English Civil War issuing Halfcrowns, Shillings, Ninepences and Sixpences dated 1645-46.

The legends translate as "Aethelred King of the English" on obverse and "Aethstan of Newark" on the reverse.

Provenance:

Ex Classical Numismatic Group, Webshop purchase 2020.

Ex Collection of an English Doctor, part one, Sovereign Rarities, London, March 2022.

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