Most collectors of Anglo-Saxon coinage aim high. They buy the finest quality coins they can find with no regard to expense. This is ideal if you have unlimited resources and are thinking of future resale value, but if like me you cant afford [literally] to be this refined, and you wish to build a collection, not stock a shop, then hopefully this guide will reveal some simple methods for obtaining these rarer coins on a strict budget.
Making a start.
Suppose you know nothing about Anglo-Saxon coins, where do you start ? The ebay hammered coins section [pre-1662] is the ideal place to begin researching. Looking at 'real' coins rather than pictures in books offers the chance to get a real 'feel' for the coins, and indeed the prices that they fetch. Dont rely on the 'Anglo-Saxon' section within 'Hammered Pre-1662' as it often misses coins that are listed in the main section. This is true for most of the sub-menu's on the side-bar. Be thorough and study the whole section. Study the descriptions given in the listings, as this will teach you better and faster than most standard reference works, like Spink and North, which can be a little difficult for beginners to understand, especially as they each use a different reference system. Dealers and collectors websites will back up and enhance this knowledge, and never be afraid to cross reference coins or information. Museum websites and databases can also be useful, but again many are beyond the 'newbie' in the often complicated search systems they use. Some of us also run ebay community groups with ongoing discussions regarding coinage of this and other eras. We are a close and friendly community and always happy to welcome and assist newcomers.
My own ebay group is called 'Early Medieval Hammered Coinage.' At present I have 114 members. My group deals with coins from c.600-c.1160.
'British Hammered Coinage' is run by a friend of mine, Clive K. His group deals with all hammered coins produced anywhere in Britain to c.1662.
Richards group has been running longest, and is called 'English Hammered Coins.' This group deals with all English coins c.600-c.1662.
So, what next ?
Well you've looked at some coins, talked to some folk and are generally happy to progess, but how ? The next stage is to actually decide which coins to buy and collect. There are four main types of Anglo-Saxon coin ; Early gold coins called Tremissis & Thrymsa's, slightly later debased silver variants called Sceats, a Northumbrian offshoot of these called Stycca's, and broad-flan pennies. Gold Anglo-Saxon coins do appear on ebay occassionally but they are very rare and expensive, and generally beyond the scope of this guide, so we will move on from these. The sceat [pronounced shee-at] coinage is very interesting in that it often has zoomorphic designs on one or both faces. These are small [approx 10mm], thick coins that vary greatly in price. Styca's [pronounced stu-kka] are similar to sceat's but a little larger and about the same thickness. They are either very debased silver or copper-alloy [occassionally brass] coins that are relatively cheap to buy on account of their supposed 'unatractiveness.' But by far the most common Anglo-Saxon coin is the penny [the term 'broad-flan' is often used to distinguish them from sceat's, which were called pennies in their day] which was minted from c.750 to the end of the Saxon era and beyond. Good examples can fetch hundreds, even thousands of pounds. The rarer the coin & better the condition, the more money it will be worth. Portrait pennies are generally worth more again. Some books provide a rough current price-guide for the better grades, and these can be useful to determine worth and rarity. As a very rough guide pennies in this era were around 20mm in diameter [although this can vary considerably under some monarchs] and wafer-thin. Silver content varies from almost pure... to next to nothing.
I cant afford the best coins ....
Most Anglo-Saxon coins are sought after, despite their condition. There are considerably less of them extant than those of later Plantagent and Medieval times. A collection needs a starting point - you need to make some purchases. Many dealers will not touch coins unless they are at least whole, if not in a good grade. Ebay is great in that it offers coins of all possible conditions to suit all pockets. Many coins offered are broken, fragmented, worn, bent, crusted, and generally of poor quality. Here is where to begin. Coins of all types and monarchs have different degrees of rarity, the more common the coin, the less expensive it is. If the common variant is broken or damaged, the price is greatly reduced. Later pennies were cut into halfpennies and farthings at the mint of issue and these again are much cheaper than whole coins, even those in top grades. So common monarch, common type, damaged in some way - should be an affordable purchase. A Short Cross penny fragment of king Cnut recently sold for less than ten pounds [I know, I bought it !!]. Most styca's are quite cheap as many collectors find them unappealing, the common monarchs, such as Eanred & Aethelred II sell for very low prices. This way a reasonable starter collection of Anglo-Saxon coins can be achieved. Once the foundations are laid you can progress to rarer types and monarchs, but by sticking with damaged poor quality coins the price also stays within limits .... As your recognition gets better bargains can be had by spotting specific coins in listed 'job-lots,' coins that sellers have misidentified and those that sellers have not bothered to identify at all.
Hopefully you will be able to build a nice cabinet or collection of Anglo-Saxon coins using these simple but effective methods. The main thing is to have fun researching and buying. Dont be afraid to contact sellers about the coins they have on offer, most are collectors or dealers and will be only too happy to give help or advice. The more you can learn the better ....
I can be contacted at any time through my ebay group, or my website Dave's Rare Coins. Please see my 'About Me' page. I also ID coinage, simply send me clear pics and ask.
Thankyou for viewing my guide, if you found it helpful in any way please vote for it below. Very Best Regards,