CNG Bidding Platform


Products and Services

Research Coins: Feature Auction


Exceptional Cynethryth Penny

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 2123. Estimate $30000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $42500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ANGLO-SAXON, Kings of Mercia. Cynethryth. Wife of Offa, 757-796. AR Penny (1.29 g, 6h). Light coinage; portrait type. Canterbury mint; Eoba, moneyer. Struck circa 780-792. E.◊B.A., draped bust right; trefoil at sides and above / + CFNEđ.R.Fđ. R.EGIN.Λ, barred m; five pellets around and within. Blunt 119; SCBI 16 (Norweb), 93 (same dies); BMC 61 (same obv. die); North 339; SCBC 909. EF, lightly toned, very minor edge porosity at 12h. An exceptional example of early Saxon portraiture. Extremely rare.

From the Collection of Susan and Eddy Quinn.

Cynethryth, the wife of King Offa of Mercia, was the first and only Anglo-Saxon queen to have her name and image placed on coins. While it has been suggested that these coins were inspired by the appearance of the empress Irene on Byzantine issues, the profile portrait harks back to coinage of Roman augustae.

Many details of Cynethryth’s life, such as the date of her marriage, are unknown. She appears to have been active in political affairs until Offa’s death. After her husband’s passing, she became abbess of the monastery of Cookham, where she remained until her death sometime after 798. Cynethryth appears in the hagiography of St. Aethelbert, where she is portrayed as a jealous villain who incites Offa to kill the saint.

This exceptional coin was found in September 2006 with four Offa coins of similar fabric in North Yorkshire and has been associated with a previous hoard discovered on the same site between 1991 and 1997. This piece was declared treasure trove and returned to the landowner. Copies of administrative paperwork relating to the find, as well as export documentation, are included in this lot. We would like to thank Susan Quinn for providing this background information.