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Research Coins: Printed Auction

Triton XX, Lot: 1465. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $42500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ANGLO-SAXON, Post-Crondall Phase. Circa 655-675. AV Thrymsa – Shilling (13mm, 1.26 g, 6h). Uncertain mint. + ΛVИΛQHTΛVOΛ in margin, bare head, with hair in rows of curls, right within coiled snake / + ΛOmCИVΛTOΛ, Latin cross set on annulet, annulets at ends of limbs, all within two concentric dotted circles terminating at the base annulet. Unpublished, but cf. SCBI 60 (BM), 21 for a similar reverse type on a gold issue, and 78–86 for similar types and iconography on silver sceatts (Series B1Ai [BMC Type 27b]). EMC 2016.0213 (this coin). EF, a few light marks. Well centered on a broad flan. Unique.

This beautiful and remarkable coin was discovered in May of 2016 by metal detectorist, Dave Rodgers, near Wragby, North Lincolnshire. The apparent gold content and elements of the design bear comparison with other types in the post-Crondall phase suggesting a date of issue in the 660s or 670s. Unprecedented in the entire Anglo-Saxon gold coinage is the profile head depicted within a coiled snake consuming its own tail. This apotropaic motif, known as an ouroboros, hitherto only found on the silver sceatt coinage which followed the gold shillings, has been discussed by Anna Gannon in her excellent work on the complex iconography of early Anglo-Saxon coinage. For Gannon the ouroboros is both ‘keeper of treasures/protector of the hero in Germanic myths’ and an allegory for Christ as protector of the soul. The Christian cross on the reverse of this coin is then an appropriate match. This coin will be the subject of an article by Tony Abramson in the forthcoming 2017 edition of the British Numismatic Journal.