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GM23691

Aethelred II, Penny, small CRVX type, Malmesbury Mint, moneyer Eadred

Aethelred II (978-1016),silver Penny, small CRVX type (c.991-997), Malmesbury Mint, Moneyer Eadred, draped bust left with sceptre, linear circle and legend surrounding, commences at top, +ÆÐELRED REX ANGLO, rev.voided cross within linear circle, CRVX letters in consecutive angles, +EADRED M-O MAL., large pellet at end of legend, weight 0.99g (BMC III; BEH -; N.770; S.1149).Toned with slight undulation, with a nice bold portrait extremely fine and very rare.

The usual moneyer reading for Malmesbury is Ealdred and this coin represents a new reading as well as clearly reading MAL for the mint name with a large rounded object after the L, like a pellet but with an ingress on one side. Though this coin was in a hoard in Suffolk which is not far from Maldon in Essex, Aethelred II coins of Maldon usually have the Æ diphthong in MAL and North only records Eadwold working at Maldon, so it is likely this coin was a geographical outlier in the Suffolk hoard.

North lists 73 named mints in operation during the reign of Aethelred II with a further 14 unallocated. According to North Malmesbury operates with four moneyers in all types except first and benediction hand.

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.

The town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire is situated on a ridge 23 miles north east of Bristol, surrounded on most sides by the River Avon and a tributary is mentioned in the Burghal Hidage. Around 635 a hermitage was constructed which formed a later basis for the later abbey and King Aethelstan is buried here having rebuilt and endowed the monastery.

The legends translate as "Aethelred King of the English" on obverse and "Eadred of Malmesbury" on the reverse.

Provenance:

Ex Millennium Hoard, Suffolk, Dix Noonan and Webb, Auction 165, 4th December 2019, lot 35.

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

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