FAQs

What makes a coin valuable?

Plus Icon

I have coins to sell, what’s the next step?

Plus Icon

How will my purchases be shipped?

Plus Icon

What happens if I’m not entirely happy with my purchase?

Plus Icon
GM24314

Baronial Penny, probably Earl Henry, Awbridge style, Northumberland area

Regular price £9,000
Regular price Sale price £9,000

Stephen (1135-54), silver Baronial Penny, probably of Earl Henry of Northumbria (1136-52), derivative of Awbridge type (c.1154-58), posthumous northern style, near full facing crowned bust to bottom of coin, with arm and sceptre to right, depicted with open mouth and pelleted neck band of armour, cross pommee on arm as decoration, linear circle and legend surrounding, retrograde letters reading from lower left with S prone, +SEINN: RIN:, distinctive wide style letter N as used on other coins of Earl Henry, rev. voided cross pommee within voided and beaded quatrefoil, lis in each inner angle, pellet in each cusp below, beaded circle and legend surrounding, initial mark cross pommee, +INNIHINI DI[RIN:]?, weight 1.39g (BMC type VII p.397; cf.N.881; cf.S.1282; cf.S.5011-13). Some light short hairlines on obverse, weak in parts, though with a good and distinctive portrait for this extreme rarity, a bold very fine and extremely rare with only two others recorded of these dies.

Dr Martin Allen wrote an article about this specific period of the coinage in the 2006 British Numismatic Journal, volume 76, "The English coinage of 1153/4-1158" where this type of coin of distinctive portrait and lettering style is listed as an "Irregular issue" and matches the die 8 / die 9 combination, of which Dr Allen recorded only two examples. Dr Allen only recorded 17 irregular coins in total across 9 types of die. Only six of the coins recorded have the obverse with a sceptre right portrait like this piece, and this coin is better than the one found at Docking, Norfolk that was sold at Spink on 1st October 2009 lot 29 for £2,100 hammer which had the same reverse die, along with one other piece in the article.

The lettering style is very similar and probably utilises the same character set as used on the Prince Henry of Northumberland Pennies; perhaps indicating a Moneyer in the Scottish Border area not wishing to show allegiance to any particular King or Prince at a time of uncertainty when Stephen has perhaps recently died. A fascinating piece, with an interesting history and a charming depiction of the King with sceptre right.

It is the opinion of this cataloguer that this coin is strongly allayed with the coins of Henry of Northumberland and perhaps the jumbled mint signature maybe for Edinburgh(?) and the obverse legend may actually be totally in reverse so the S may be the terminal and may also associate with Earl Henry.

The reign of Stephen is perhaps one of the most interesting numismatically as England descends towards Civil War in the latter part of the reign, with an increasing volume in types of coinage with many poorly struck as allegiances to the King, the Empress or the various noblemen wax and wane. The first so-called Watford type is the most abundant due to the fact that a major hoard of this type turned up in the Watford area in Victorian times, rather than something describing the design, but a well struck piece is hard to find.

Often referred to as Stephen of Blois he was born in either 1092 or 1096 he was a younger son of Stephen-Henry the Count of Blois who died whilst Stephen was young, he subsequently being raised by his mother Adela the daughter of William the Conqueror. He was placed into the English court of his uncle Henry Beauclerc, where he rose in prominence and was granted extensive lands, he became Count of Boulogne by his marriage in 1125 to Matilda inheriting estates there and in Kent making the couple one of the wealthiest in England. He had earlier escaped drowning in the White Ship disaster of 1120 which claimed the life of William Aethling the son of Henry I, leaving some doubt over the succession to the English throne despite Henry nominating his daughter Matilda as heir. Later, upon the news of Henry's passing on 1st December 1135, Stephen immediately crossed over the English Channel and with the help of his brother Henry Bishop of Winchester and Abbot of Glastonbury he took the throne declaring the preservation of order across the Kingdom took priority over any earlier oaths to support his cousin Empress Matilda. His early years were successful ones despite some attacks in the north from David I of Scotland, from Welsh rebels in the west and from Empress Matilda's husband Geoffrey from the east. In 1138 Robert of Gloucester the half-brother of Empress Matilda rebelled threatening civil war. Stephen fiercely defended his rule with support from Waleran de Beaumont, arresting a group of bishops. However, in 1139 when the Empress and Robert of Gloucester invaded Stephen was unable to crush the revolt with them taking hold of the south-west of England. Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, lost Normandy and abandoned by many of his followers, but was subsequently released after his wife Matilda with William of Ypres captured Robert at the Rout of Winchester, but the civil war continued to drag on unabated. Stephen wanted his son Eustace to succeed him and tried to convince the church to crown Eustace in advance, but Pope Eugene III refused causing disruption within the clergy. In 1153 Empress Matilda's son Henry invaded building a powerful alliance of barons to support him for the throne. The armies met at Wallingford with neither side keen to fight and negotiations began to find peace hastened by the sudden death of Eustace on the 17th August at Bury St Edmunds, and resulting in the Treaty of Winchester where Stephen recognized Henry as heir. Stephen passed away on 25th October 1154 from a stomach disease whilst at Dover and is buried at Faversham Abbey.

Provenance:

Found Kirton, near Newark, 18th February 2017, EMC 2017.0060.

Ex Sovereign Rarities, purchased 2019.

Ex Collection of an English Doctor part II, Sovereign Rarities fixed price list online May 2022.

No reviews yet

FAQs

What makes a coin valuable?

Plus Icon

I have coins to sell, what’s the next step?

Plus Icon

How will my purchases be shipped?

Plus Icon

What happens if I’m not entirely happy with my purchase?

Plus Icon
1 of 4