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OF ALL THE
COINS OF KING ALFRED
Of the coins of Alfred, formerly very rare, we now possess a considerable variety. Some of their types are in the highest degree interesting, and their succession is easily determined by comparison with those of the coins of contemporary princes and prelates, and with one another.
+ ELFRED MX +
Same types as the last.
W. H. SHEPPARD ESQ.
PL. I, FIG. 2. The occurrence of the letters MX on these two coins is remarkable. There are coins of Ethelred, the brother and predecessor of Alfred, of the same type as these, which read REX + AEDELRED M, and might be understood as indicating a claim on the part of Ethelred to the sovereignty of Mercia. But such can hardly be the meaning of these letters on the coins of Alfred. On the contrary, I should prefer taking them, on these, as well as on the coins of Ethelred, as expressing the place of mintage.
Same types as the above.
PL. I, FIG. 3.
These three coins are very different in their workmanship from
those of a similar type which follow; and in this respect they more closely resemble the coin of Ethelred above referred to, than any others of his coins.
SIEESTEF MONETA This type differs from the foregoing, having the arcs of the segments broken in the middle, and bent inwards. I know of no other coin of this type.
+ AELBRED RE+ Bust to the right. CIALVLF MONETA In three lines separated by bars curved at the ends.
Coins of the three last types are always of very base metal, and, like those of Ethelred and of Burgred King of Mercia, rarely exceed 20 grains in weight. The spelling of the king's name with B is remarkable: no other instance of this spelling is to be found on the coins of Alfred, although the use of B for F in some Saxon names is not uncommon.
I place these coins first, because their resemblance to the coins of Ethelred and Burgred leads me to consider them as being Alfred's earliest coinage. Of that which I think should follow, a fragment only remains.
The remains of its reverse shew that when perfect it presented the same type and the same legend, EDERED MONETA, as the beautiful unique penny of archbishop Ethered, with the head, (probably of Alfred), in the same collection as this.
The two coins which follow are the only ones to which we
cannot satisfactorily assign a place in the series, as they are quite different in their types from all the rest.
8. ÆLFRED +
Bust to the right.
A tau connected at its extremities.
with the edge of the piece by beaded lines.
BRITISH MUSEUM, Pl. I, FIG. 8.
This coin is remarkable, not only on account of its type, but for the legend on the reverse being in Saxon, instead of in Latin, for the prefix ET to the name of the mint, and for its being the earliest coin known of that mint, viz. Gloucester. The prefix ÆT to the names of places was not unusual during the Heptarchic period, as any one conversant with charters of that period will acknowledge. The following extracts may be adduced in illustration of this.
Bissenos agros quam incolæ hujusce regionis sic vocitant, Et Ulenbeorge.
CHARTER OF COENRED KING OF MERCIA, A. D. 709.
In loco qui dicitur at Beathum XC manentium, et in aliis multis locis: hoc est at Stretforda XXX cassatos; at Sture XXXVIII. Simili etiam vocabulo æt Sture in Usmerum XIIII manentium, Et Breodune XII, &c.
CHARTER OF HEATHORED BP, OF WORCESTER, A. D. 781.
See also the instance At Sandwich. p. 13 of the Harmony of the Chroniclers in this volume.
+AELFRÆD REX Written cross-wise.
WILLIAM ASSHETON ESQ. Pl. I. FIG. 9.
The neatness and elegance of this coin remind us of the coins of Offa king of Mercia; and its reverse type closely resembles that of some of the Mercian coins. The cruciform disposition of the obverse legend finds a parallel on the reverses of the coins of Ethelwulf and Ethelbert.
10. During the progress of some excavations in St Paul's Churchyard, London, in the year 1811, there was found a piece of lead, nearly an inch and a half square, and half an inch thick, having on each side a deeply indented impression from the obverse and reverse of a penny die of Alfred, of the type which next demands our attention. It would seem to have been a trial piece, struck from an unfinished die, and it is defaced on the obverse, apparently to prevent an improper use being made of it. The moneyer's name seems to have been EALDVLF.
C. R. SMITH ESQ. Pl. I, FIG. 10.
A coin in the British Museum (21), one in Mr Cuff's collection (20) and a fragment in that of the late Sir John Twisden, were
all that were known of this type before the disinterment of the Cuerdale hoard. In that hoard fifteen specimens were found, including the fragments 17 and 18; and of the whole number of this type now known all the important varieties will be found figured in Plate II.
in having a cross bar at each angle of the lozenge.
Similar type, with a pellet on each
ÆLFRED REX SI
+ ELFRED REX SAX
side of the lozenge externally, and in each angle internally.
REV J. W. MARTIN. Pl. II, FIG. 9.
REGINGIED MONETA. This differs from the last in having crosses instead of pellets on each side of the lozenge.
J. D. CUFF Esq. Pl. II, FIG. 10.
X AELFRED REX
Similar type, a cross within the
lozenge, and a crescent attached to each side of the beaded lines
which connect the lozenge with the margin.
side of the lozenge, another in each angle of the cross enclosed therein, and a curved line connecting each opposite pair of
WILLIAM ASSHETON ESQ., Pl. II, FIG. 13.
The date of execution of these coins is ascertained by their resemblance to the more common type of those of Ceolwulf II, king of Mercia, A. D. 874. The busts differ on all, but some, especially 13 and 15, are close imitations of those on the coins of the Roman emperors, and the diadem on all is clearly of Roman origin. There is a marked difference in workmanship between those which read REX SAXONUM and those which read simply REX. The former were probably minted in Alfred's paternal dominions of Wessex.
The following are all the names of moneyers which occur on coins of this type:
Before I proceed to notice the coins of Alfred which come next in succession, I must draw the attention of my readers to two coins which are not indeed English, but are the evidence of the former existence of English coins of the same type, and hold out to us the expectation of such being discovered at some future time. In my Essay on the coins of East Anglia, I have noticed