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GM24305

Stephen Penny, Cross Moline type, Carlisle Mint, Wilealme

Regular price £5,250
Regular price Sale price £5,250

Stephen (1135-54), silver Penny, Watford type (c.1136-45), Carlisle Mint, Moneyer William, crowned bust with sceptre right, legend and beaded border surrounding, commences lower left, +STIEFNE RE., rev. cross moline, lis in each angle, legend and beaded border surrounding, +WILEALME ON C----D:,weight 1.39g(BMC type I, cf.19; Mattinson and Cherry, BNJ 2013, p.105, fig. 9, this coin; Allen, BNJ 2012, p.108; cf. Mack 277; N.873; S.1306).Toned, one flat spot around arm of King and corresponding part of reverse legend, very fine and extremely rare.

The legends translate as "Stephen King" on obverse and "William of Carlisle" on the reverse.

The moneyer William minted some of the early coins from the Carlisle mint and from Bamborough for both Henry of Scotland and Stephen. He could be either William FitzBaldwin or his grandson William FitzErembald or possibly both of them. North records four moneyers in total at Carlisle in this reign working in types 1 and 7.

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.

Some sixty miles west of Newcastle, the City of Carlisle on the River Eden was devastated by the Danes in 875 and in ruins until 1092 when William II fortified it by building a castle. The silver and lead mines on nearby Alston Moor were used to supply the mint with metal during the twelfth century and a Bishopric was established in 1133. David of Scotland seized the town on the accession of Stephen but later in the Peace of Durham, was confirmed to his son Henry. In 1139 the town was ceded with his Earldom of Northumbria to the Scottish crown and not restored to the English till 1157. Minting activity occurs from Henry I to Henry III with issues of David of Scotland and Henry of Northumbria.

The relatively recently published book "The Metal in Britain's Coins" by Dr Graham Birch and published by Spink has a chapter devoted to the sources of medieval silver coinage, and one of the few issues traceable to silver mined locally in England, is the penny coinage of the Carlisle Mint from the later Norman reigns of Henry I and Stephen to that of Henry II and Richard I. Henry I visited Carlisle in 1122 and was impressed by the minting potential first establishing a mint there having commissioned extra defences, and a rental from the Burgesses of £5 a year is recorded to the King from 1125 onward. This fee had jumped to £45 per annum by 1130 and then to £500 by 1133 clearly showing the success from a discovery of a new vein of silver near Cross Fell in the Silver Beck-Minersdale region. The powerful Erembald family from Flanders soon arrived to become involved in the minting activity, and three generations over a fifty-year period dominated the moneying of coinage in this region continuing through the Anarchy period in the reign of King Stephen. Stability returned with the advent of the reign of Henry II and in 1158 Henry reorganised the royalty payments system taking away the miners rights to silver giving them only a revenue stream from the lead by products. Henry offered them the chance to mint as well as mine giving the opportunity for integrated business, that was first taken up by William Fitzerembald. Henry also authorised a new mint to open at Newcastle and William operated at both locations on a combined rental of £100 a year. An auction process of the rights to mint and mine occurred on an annual basis, and though Fitzerembald was usually the winning bidder against all comers at ever higher levels, he sometimes failed to meet the rental targets, accruing an eventual debt of some £2,100. The activity certainly boosted the economy of this northern area and Dr Birch estimates that the mines accounted for about 1% of the national gross domestic product of England at this time. William Fitzerembald did lose the rental for 1180-81, and again in 1184-85 when it was run by custodians with more proper accounting passing to Alanus Monetarius , who either alone or with partners ran the mint and mines till 1198 at lower rent levels than his predecessor and met his targets. He perhaps also operated at Durham. For further detailed reading it is advised to consult Dr Birch's learned publication.

Ex John Mattinson Collection, Coins of the Carlisle Mint, Dix Noonan and Webb, Auction 164, lot 2227.

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

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