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JM33995

Aethelred II Penny last small cross type, Rochester mint, moneyer Aelfheh

Regular price £850
Regular price Sale price £850

Aethelred II (978-1016),silver Penny, last small cross type (c.1009-17), Rochester Mint, Moneyer Aelfheh, diademed and draped bust left within linear circle, Latin legend surrounding, +ÆÐELRED REX ΛNGLO:, rev. small cross pattée at centre, linear circle with legend surrounding, +AELFHEH MON ROFEC, weight 1.21g (SCBI 2 [Glasgow], 883; SCBI 7 [Copenhagen], 1052; N.777; S.1154).Bold very fine or better, rare, with a first-rate provenance and several tickets.

The legends translate as "Aethelred, King of the English" and " Aelfheh of Rochester.

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 2ndFebruary 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 23rdApril 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 18thOctober 1016. He retreated possibly wounded to West Mercia and negotiated a treaty giving him rule of Wessex. However, Edmund died in Oxford on the 30thNovember 1016 giving control to Canute.

The cathedral town of Rochester in Kent lies at the lowest bridging point of the River Medway some 30 miles south east of the centre of the City of London. The first bridging of the Medway at Rochester dates back to late Roman times. The Diocese is the second oldest in Britain after Canterbury with a long line of Bishops dating back to its founding in 604 by St. Augustine, who consecrated St. Justus as the first Bishop. It has been claimed that Witmen type Anglo Saxon gold thrymsa coins may have been struck here. Rochester was one of the main mint towns in the ninth century and the Bishop seems to have been granted the privilege to coin in the reign of Ecgberht. In the laws of Aethelstan the Bishop of Rochester was allowed one moneyer whilst the King had two. The town suffered great slaughter by the Danes in 839 and was ravaged by Aethelred II in 986 just five to ten years before this coins depicting him was minted. Later the town was besieged in the rebellion of Bishop Odo in 1088 and was destroyed by fire in 1130. Rochester was besieged and taken by King John in 1215.

Provenance:

R C Lockett, Glendining, 6 June 1955, lot 652 (5 in lot)
Glendining, 24 May 1972, lot 687 (2 in lot)
Glendining, 14 March 1973, lot 265
Spink Numismatic Circular, May 1978, no.6350

Spink, Auction, 15TH April 2004, lot 211 - "almost EF" Hammered for £380 [£470 inclusive of buyer's premium].

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