Despite being holed, this is a very nice example of a scarce Bernhard III continental imitation, reported to have been found near Lihul in Estonia. There were 28 of these Bernhard coins found in the Brussels Hoard - these showed significant design variations and Churchill and Thomas reported 16 different types. This one is similar to C/T type 10.013. Variations occur in the form of the obverse text - this one simply reads BERNHARD III - and there are also variations in the form of the obverse central fleur, and on the reverse there are variations in the ornamentation at the centre of the cross, as well as in the moneyer imitated; this one being of hENRI. All coins appear to be imitations of London coins.
This example in my collection, and purchased on Ebay, June 2015.
This month we have a recent Ebay offering - at first sight a class 3, and with mintmark type 3* it's looking like class 3a2.... BUT look at the unusual bust and the size of the central fleur in relation to the crown-band - and on the reverse note the nonsense legend composed of rather spindly letters, partly illegible. The pellets comprising the inner circle are smaller than usual. The cross is also made of thinner than usual lines and is rather irregular. This coin is undoubtedly either a continental imitation or a contemporary forgery, and I'm favouring the latter. Anyone have any comments?
This month I feature a Henry III issue from Ireland; the coin being a fairly scarce class IIb (S.6241); the jewelled crown; a noticeably different shaped crown to most of the Irish Henry issues. No class IIb coins were found in the Brussels hoard.
For those needing assistance in identifying the Irish issues I suggest you don't turn for help to the new Spink's 3rd edition of the coins of Ireland, Scotland and the Islands etc – although an eagerly awaited and generally a useful volume it is somewhat disappointing in that the illustrations are still too small to be of much use for coins with subtle differences. Even worse is that some illustrations have been transposed – for example in the Irish issues note that the picture on page 139 labelled as “6237” is in fact a picture of class 1d, S.6239, the double banded crown. Also their illustration of class IIb, S.6241 is incorrect. One wonders how many other errors are in the book.
Instead, take a look at the Irish pages on this website; I have recently been adding to them, and the illustrations should provide a better identification guide than the Spinks catalogue. As always, I'm very keen to hear from other collectors who might like to share any of their Henry III images on this website, either anonymously or with full acknowledgement.
An interesting coin sold on Ebay in late April. A class 5a3, type L.598 of Churchill and Thomas of which four examples were found in the Brussels Hoard. It looks like the moneyer is Henri, however the die-cutter had a bit of a problem that day - after starting with Henri he finished the moneyers name with the I and stop of Davi. So a bit of an unusual type in that it displays a die cutter's mistake, however there were at least 359 Henri 5a3 coins found in the Brussels Hoard, and of many different dies. Henri 5a3 of London is not a rare coin at all, but is this coin with the unusual die spelling valuable? Are there many collectors willing to pay a hefty premium for a slightly unusual spelling of the legend? With the state of the coin, particularly the damage on the obverse, one might expect a sale price of maybe £30 for one of the usual die types, however this one sold for a hefty £117 - so yes, there are folks out there taking a close interest in minor variations in the lettering....
Last month I featured a 1a/1b mule which was the most expensive Henry III silver penny at the time; however by the end of the month the record had been taken by the coin shown above. A very rare class 5h Roger of Canterbury. Ex the Jim Sazama collection this coin went for a hammer price of £1,750 at the DNW auction. With commission and VAT this translates to a total price of £2,170.
Roger le Assuar received his dies c.1275 - hence this is a posthumous issue of Henry III.
The featured coin of the month is a class 5 Willem of London. The coin has R type 1, X type 4, and almond shaped eyes – suggesting class 5c, and either 5c2 or 5c3. Next, looking at the central fleur to distinguish between 5c2 and 5c3, we see that the regular central fleur appears to indicate 5c2. A nice-looking coin, and your 13th century “man in the street” probably wouldn’t have given it a second look; nor would it be treated with suspicion by most modern day collectors or dealers. However, it’s weight at 1.36 grams is below the normal average 1.4 - 1.5 gm for an unclipped coin; not necessarily an issue – but a possible pointer. The appearance of the coin is somewhat bright and crisp – again a pointer to a possible issue with this coin? Is it genuine? Perhaps a continental imitation, or even a modern forgery? In this case we are lucky to have some additional evidence to help us form a conclusion. Take a good look at this second coin, which also appears to be a class 5c2 coin, this time from Roberd of Canterbury:
See anything unusual?
Careful inspection indicates that both coins appear to have been struck from the same obverse die – and this raises a problem as Roberd of Canterbury is known to have only started striking coins from 5c3 onwards, and the shape of the fleur shows it to be a 5c2 coin. Another issue we have with this coin is that it is even lighter, at 1.29 gm. Although moneyers sometimes shared obverse dies within the same mint, it would be most unlikely for such sharing to be between two mints – London and Canterbury in this case. What we may be seeing here are two modern forgeries, or even two extremely good continental imitations, and the quality is such that they would be very hard to spot – both in the 13th century and today. If you had only seen the Willem of London coin would you have been suspicious of it? Acknowledgement: Thanks to IMH for images and useful discussion.
September's featured coin is a provincial issue from Bristol. When the mint was opened in 1280 it only operated for less than two years before being shut down again in the autumn of 1281. During that period it had minted around £40,000 worth of coins... about 9.6 million pennies. Of course, many of these were subsequently melted down. A total of 382 Bristol pennies are documented from the Brussels Hoard. The coin shown here has a reverse in very fine condition with the moneyer seen to be Elis; this being Elyas of Aby. Other moneyers active at Bristol during this period were Henry Langbord, James La Warre, Walter of Paris, and a Roger whose identity is unknown. The spelling and ligation on the reverse shows it to be Churchill and Thomas's type Br. 14 of which there were only 15 specimens in the Brussels Hoard. However the reason this coin made it to the featured spot his month is the obverse - at first sight a little ugly looking due to a somewhat poor strike, but examination of the legend shows hEHRRICVS REX III - with HR ligated and followed by a second R in Henry's name! An unusual and scarce spelling error...
This coin attracted strong bidding interest when it was offered on Ebay recently, probably because it is in better condition than many seen on the market recently. It's also unusual from a provenance point of view in that it has not come out of the Colchester Hoard - these Class 6 coins of Bury were rare until 1,916 of them turned up in Colchester in 1969, and most that come onto the market originate from that discovery. However, this one is a 2013 metal detecting discovery from Glemsford in Suffolk.
Coin Ref # IR029
This month a class 3d coin is featured; a fairly high grade Nicole of London penny in the author's collection. With the ball-footed R it would be classified as a coin of sub-class 3d2, however this particular coin has an eight-rayed mintmark rather than the usual six-rayed type. The eight-rayed mintmark is also found on the subsequent class 4 coins. Such 3d coins are treated as varieties of 3d2 by Churchill and Thomas, but there is a strong case for elevating these coins to a new sub-class, 3d3.
For further information please see Research note #2 and further examples of these coins can be seen here. Comments may be made on the H3 blog.
For the first featured coin of the New Year we have a scarce Clement on Wallingford, of which there were only 4 examples in the Brussels Hoard. The reason it's featured here is that it comes from a recent discovery of a small new hoard, currently known as the "Bridgenorth Area Hoard" discovered late last year. Exact location and finder are currently confidential, as further coins are still coming out the ground. Agricultural activity, and maybe rabbits too, have dispersed the coins over a wide area. About 90 coins have been found so far, nearly all of which are Henry III long cross pennies.
The lucky detectorist is working with the local Finds Liasion Officer and the coins will in due course be going through the treasure evaluation process. In the meantime I am assisting with identification, and will soon start including some selected specimens on the website.
Another hoard I have recently added mention of on this site is the Baschurch hoard, notable for it's high percentage of Shrewsbury pennies. Details can be found here.
Coin Ref # LNNN1018, images courtesy of DNW.
The enigmatic class 5d coins of Henry III have often generated controversy as to why they are so different from the preceding 5c and subsequent later class 5 coins. Churchill and Thomas found die links with 5c and 5e which led them to conclude in their 2012 book that 5d coins were part of the English series; though they clearly had some doubts.
The coin illustrated here was included in a lot of continental imitations recently auctioned by DNW. There are some particular points of note - firstly the dark discoloration suggests that this coin may have a sub-standard silver content and this is supported by the low weight of only 1.19 gm. Finally, the reverse legend reads WIL/LEM/OLN/VND - i.e the third quadrant letters are out of sequence. To me, this looks like it might be a continental imitation - what do you think?
December's featured coin is the most expensive English Henry III silver long cross penny sold on the open market as of December 1st. I am being specific about the date as there is an upcoming DNW auction which may see the price of this coin exceeded. More of that next month.
For now though, the above illustrated 1a/1b mule holds the record. It sold in March 2013 at DNW for a hammer price of £1400; adding in commission, VAT and making an inflation correction, that price translates to almost £1,800 in today's money. The auctioneer's description was as follows..
"Penny, class Ia/Ib mule, London, LIE TERCI' LON, bust wearing crown with caul, within wire line inner circle, 1.46g/7h (N 983/984; S 1358/1359). Very fine and extremely rare. Estimate £900-1,200. Provenance: A Hoard of Henry III Long Cross Pennies from an Uncertain Location, Spink Auction 195, 26 June 2008, lot 647.The Brussels Hoard contained five examples of this mule (Churchill/Thomas p.86)"
Illustrated is a fine class 1b of London ex the Jim Sazama collection, the obverse reads hEHRICUS REX ANG, with HR & AN both ligated, and there are five pellets under the crown. On the reverse we see LIE/TER/CI':/LON - with no pellets on the letters. There were 110 coins of this class & moneyer in the Brussels Hoard, but of 68 different types. This particular coin is C/T type L.41, of which there was only one example in the hoard. There was apparently little control on the design detail at the time of production of these coins, and we see differences in the spelling of hENRICVS on the obverse, in the the number of pellets under the crown on the obverse, in the pellets on the letters and between some words, in the style of the beard and various other minor variations. As a collector are you going to try and seek an example of each of the many types, or seek a representative selection? You may wish to take a look at my London Class 1b page for a suggested breakdown of the London 1b coins.
The featured coin for November still has a medieval mount attached; it having been used as an ornament. The obverse text "hENRICVS REX" suggesting a rare class 1A Henry penny, however the text on the reverse reads "BLO/ME.....ER/GCI", and another look at the obverse shows a rosette between S and REX.
This coin is actually a continental imitation issued by Bernhard III of Lippe; it is very rare, as are all continental imitations of class 1 coins. This one, complete with mount, was sold at auction in Germany in June this year. The pre-sale estimate was 1000 Euros, but it actually sold for 1600 Euros plus comission.
For more info on Bernhard imitations click here.