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GM24302

Stephen Penny, variation of Cross Moline type, uncertain mint and moneyer

Regular price £4,250
Regular price Sale price £4,250

Stephen (1135-1154), silver Baronial Penny, variety of Cross Moline type, uncertain mint, uncertain moneyer, small crowned bust right holding sceptre within linear circle, mixed legend surrounding +I:· CIMACC----, rev. cross moline "Watford" style design within beaded circle, legend surrounding, +-----IIO: IIIIOI*L, 0.91g (BMC 1 var.; Mack 199c, this coin; N.948, this coin; S 1278 var.). Crudely executed portrait and some legend missing, otherwise fine and toned, an intriguing piece of the highest rarity and believed the only known specimen.

A long provenance accompanies this coin harking back to the Kent hoard, which was written about by Christopher Blunt, F. Elmore Jones and Paul Robinson, British Numismatic Journal volume 37, 1968, "On Some Hoards of the Time of Stephen" and this coin is discussed on page 39.

This article reveals this coin was also illustrated in John Lindsay's "Remarkable Medieval Coins," 1849, on pl. 2, number 43, and Lindsay's cataloguer attributed it to Henry Newburgh, Earl of Warwick.

This coin has more recently been associated, with Ranulf, Earl of Chester, who held the city and royal castle at Lincoln from 1140 to 1146 but this may be incorrect. The visible legends are not straight forward or wholly decipherable.

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:

From the Gravesend 1817/Dartford c. 1825/6 (Kent) Find passed direct to grand-father of Charles Richard Taylor and with the latter by the 1840s.

G.R. Smith Collection, Sotheby Auction, 17-18th July 1848, lot 102 part, sold for 10/- purchased by Lindsay via Webster.

John Lindsay Collection, Sotheby Auction, 14-17th August 1867, lot 132 sold as Baron Henry Newburgh, Earl of Warwick.

H.M. Reynolds Collection, Part II, Sotheby Auction, 5-6th June 1919, lot 95, sold for £9/15 to Spink, as Ranulf, Earl of Chester.

Valentine John Eustace Ryan Collection, Part II, Glendining Auction, 22-24th January 1952, lot 946, sold for £17 as uncertain but mentions Ranulf.

Thomas Ollive Mabbott Collection, Part IV, Hans Schulman Auction (New York), 26-28th May 1970, lot 1005, sold for $120 as Ranulf Earl of Chester?
Ex Marvin Lessen, North York Moors Collection, part 2, 3rd July 2019, lot 427.

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

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