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ANGLO-SAXON, Kings of Mercia. Offa. 757-796. AR Penny (16.5mm, 1.21 g, 12h). Light coinage, portrait type. London mint; Dud, moneyer. Struck circa 779-792/3. O·FFA RЄX, bare headed bust right; pellets above, cross and pellets to left / + ∂ u ∂ in the angles of a large jewelled cross of lobes over saltire cross botonnée. Chick 23a = R. C. Lockett, “The Coinage of Offa” in NC 20 (1920), pl. VII, no. 1 = SCBI 67 (BM) 60 (same dies); North 296; SCBC 905. Richly toned. Near EF. A superb portrait coin of exceptionally fine style. Very rare.

Ex Bolaffi 335 (28 November 2019), lot 347; Fabio Massimo Franchi (1895 -1955) Collection.

The only other known specimen of this distinctive portrait type is a die duplicate in the British Museum. That coin was acquired by the Museum at the sale of part one of the Lockett collection in 1955. Michael Dolley, writing in the The British Museum Quarterly in June 1956, reported that the acquisition of that coin was 'a matter for congratulation. Especial attention should be paid to the letter-forms of the reverse, which are characteristic of the moneyer Dud, one of the masters of the early Canterbury school of die-engraving, and also in the quite ‘Roman’ treatment of the obverse drapery.’ Subsequent numismatists have placed Dud at the Mercian mint of London though the artistry of his dies remains unquestioned.