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GM25841

Stephen Penny, Watford Type, Wareham Mint, moneyer Roger

Regular price £2,950
Regular price Sale price £2,950

Stephen (1135-54), silver Penny, Watford type (c.1136-45), Wareham Mint, Moneyer Roger, crowned bust with sceptre right, legend and beaded border surrounding, [+STIEFNE], rev. cross moline, lis in each angle, legend and beaded border surrounding, [+ROG]IR: ON: PARh, weight 1.34g (BMC type 1; N.873; S.1278). Green spot on obverse, weakly struck in parts of legend, decent portrait, mint name legible, about very fine and very rare.

The legends translate as "Stephen" on obverse and "Roger of Wareham" on the reverse.

North records only two moneyers working in the first type only at Wareham for Stephen.

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 1stDecember 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 17thAugust at Bury St Edmunds, and resulting in the Treaty of Winchester where Stephen recognized Henry as heir. Stephen passed away on 25thOctober 1154 from a stomach disease whilst at Dover and is buried at Faversham Abbey.

Thetford town on the Little Ouse is 14 miles north of Bury St Edmunds and was the capital of East Anglia and was thought to be the minting place of earlier Mercian issues and independent Kings though it could have been Ipswich. The Danes wintered here in 868/9 moving on to Reading in 870. Swein burnt Thetford in 1003 and again in 1010, the town later became the See of East Anglia circa 1072 but this was transferred to Norwich 1094/5. Minting activity occurs from the reign of Edgard until Henry II.

Situated 15 miles east of Dorchester in between the Rivers Frome and Piddle, Wareham was once a thriving port and is mentioned in the Burghal Hidage. In 875 it was taken by the Danes and later devastated by William I in 1067. It was the stronghold of Robert of Gloucester and surrendered to Stephen in 1138, but revolted in 1139 when Baldwin de Redvers landed, and later recovered by Stephen in 1142 strategically cutting off communication for the Angevin party with the continent. However Robert returned on the way from Normandy and took the harbour and town and eventually recaptured the castle after three weeks of siege. Minting activity occurs first for Aethelstan and then from Edgard to Stephen with various Baronial issues and for Matilda.

Provenance:

Purchased from A. H. Baldwin and Son, circa 1987.

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