Medieval pennies could sell for thousands at auction

An auction starting Monday will be featuring rare coins dating back to the Middle Ages which will likely fetch thousands of pounds each. 

The first is a Harold II silver penny, which was discovered in August by Reece Pickering, while metal detecting with his dad, Jonny Crowe, at Topcroft, a village near Bungay in Norfolk. “The day Reece found it we were out metal detecting in a couple of farmer’s fields,” his father explains. “We’d only come across rubbish. The next minute I heard Reece shouting and waving from the other side of the field. I went over and there he was with his find. He kicked the dirt away, picked up the coin and gave it a wipe. We knew it was special.


“We put it up for ID and it turned out to be a rare Cambridge mint Harold II penny. Reece has just turned 17 but he was only 16 when he found it. He’s been metal detecting for a couple of years, in fact he introduced me to the hobby. He loves his history. It’s his biggest find to date but not his first. Six months after he started metal detecting he found a George III (1760-1801) gold guinea.”

The coin is expected to fetch between £2,500 and £3,000 at auction.

Penny of Henry of Anjou – photo courtesy Hansons Auctioneers

The second coin is a penny issued by Henry of Anjou c. 1139-48, during the period known as The Anarchy – a civil war between Henry and his mother, Empress Matilda against King Stephen of England. On December 19, 1154, in the wake of Stephen’s death, Henry of Anjou was finally crowned Henry II of England.

The coin was discovered by 64-year-old landscaper John Denham in a farmer’s field in Wallingford while out metal detecting with his sons, Simon and Steven Denham. The town of Wallingford was once the easternmost stronghold of Henry’s supporters.


“It was September and we were out metal detecting as a family,” John says. “We go out most weekends. We decided to revisit one of our favourite haunts and had been out for around five hours when my detector gave the signal. The coin was buried about four inches deep in the soil. We thought this penny might be something special but, once it had been identified and recorded, we were still surprised to learn how valuable it was.”

This coin is expected to sell between £6,000 and £7,000 at auction because it is so rare. Adam Staples, Historica expert at the Hansons auction house, explains “The Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has recorded only nine other coins of Henry’s ‘Round Cap’ type – two cut halfpennies, five incomplete coins and two full pennies.

“John’s coin is the only complete example recorded where both the mint town and name of the moneyer can be read. The reverse of the penny tells us that it was made by Robertus at the Wallingford mint, a moneyer who was not previously known to have minted coins there. This makes it excessively rare.”


Both coins will be sold through an online auction taking place October 26th to 27th at Hansons. The auction features over 700 items, including many dating back to the Middle Ages. Click here for more details.

Top Image: Penny of Harold II – photo courtesy Hansons Auctioneers


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