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Stephen Awbridge Irregular Penny
Stephen (1135-54), silver Penny, Awbridge type (c.1154-58), posthumous northern style, facing crowned bust with arm and sceptre to right, linear circle and legend surrounding, cross pommee commences legend at 7 o'clock, +SEINN: RIN, legend utilises letter punches used on Scottish border coins on Prince Henry of Northumberland, distinctive wide style letter N, rev. voided cross pommee within voided quatrefoil, lis in each inner angle, pellet in each cusp, beaded circle and legend surrounding, initial mark cross pommee, +TRININININININ, weight 1.39g (cf.N.881; BMC type 7; 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 only the ninth recorded example of which this is only the third whole coin and the finest in private hands.
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 a sceptre right portrait like this seventh 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.
This coin is a recent find from Kirton near Newark and is yet to appear online at the EMC database though it has been recorded as EMC 2017.0060. 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.