Ceolwulf II, Mercia
Struck c.874-879/80AD Mercia, London mint. AR Penny 1.35g Cross-Lozenge type. Obv Diademed and draped bust right; 'CIOLWL F REX' three pellets ending; Rev Cross crosslet with lozenge-shaped centre, plain small cross within; 'LIOFVALD MONET' (Moneyer Leofweald) in the quarterd angles. N.429, S.944.
On the database at the Fitzwilliam are 7 coins on Ceolwulf, not including this one. All are of this type, which is shared with Alfred, suggesting some co-operation at the London mint. 2 of the listed coins have the same moneyer, one appears to be the same die. There are also 3 coins of Burgred and 3 of Alfred listed, reassuringly from the same time period and almost certainly the same moneyer. This coin is mentioned in BNJ32 (1963) p.89 as coin 6, plate 8. Interestingly Dolley has confused the images of coins 5, 6 & 8 on the plate - 5 being the Lockett 407/RP Mack coin listed as 8 in the text, 8 being this coin listed as 6 in the text, 6 being one of the others on the list. This coin is likely from the Cuerdale Hoard 1840. It is also Blackburn & Keys coin 35. Alongside further provenance, I have found the coin to have also been in the Stonyhurst College Collection, a school close to the Cuerdale find site and likely a gift of the crown or a local. This coin then appears in a Christie's sale in 1989 lot458, presumably on behalf of the college, and later, the Stack Collection sold in 1999, lot337. Possibly then bought by Dr Jacob Y. Terner and sold by private treaty. This coin was subsequently acquired at the Millennia Sale in Beverly Hills, California in May 2008. Bold, full strike on excellent metal, with superior portrait. Some dark toning but has been cleaned long ago. Interestingly, this coin has either been turned over in the die and struck twice, or more likely in my opinion, is an overstrike of an earlier coin with different dies, type unknown. The 'F REX' of this first strike/initial coin on the obverse is visible in the first quarter of this coins reverse, but the alignment of the 'FR' is different from that on display on this coin's obverse, thus again, likely an overstrike not a re-strike. This feature adds to the history of the type, given the circumstances of Ceolwulf's accession. Said to be the finest known coin of this ruler though this King's coinage is extremely rare for comparison's sake.
This informative article on this king is reproduced here:
'The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in a biased account of the Kingdom of Mercia during the reign of Aelfred of Wessex, refers to Ceolwulf II as 'a foolish [or unwise] kings thane' and goes on to state that he was raised to the Mercian throne in 874 by the Viking Great Army, following pledges and the giving of hostages. But was he simply a pretender, a puppet-king under full control of the Viking warlords ? His extant coinage [and charters] tell a different story. One of honour and pride, co-operation and a legitimate royal bloodline. In short the coins inform us that Ceolwulf II was a king equal in status, if not in actual power, to Aelfred of Wessex himself.
We know from the very beginning of his kingship that Aelfred of Wessex accepted the rule of Ceolwulf II in Mercia. This is evident in an excessively rare coinage struck jointly by the two kings in an attempt to continue the single-type [Lunette] currency begun under Aethelred I of Wessex and Burgred of Mercia some years before. This novel new type featured on the obverse the bust of the monarch breaking the inner circle, with the legend of the particular monarch under whose authority it was coined, around, and a reverse based on antiquitous Roman coins of the 'Two Emperors' type. And indeed this Anglo-Saxon Great Rarity is similarly named. Much has been written on the significance of adopting this reverse design, but what is generally accepted is that it represents Aelfred's acceptance of Ceolwulf as king of Mercia upon his accession. My own opinion, which does not necessarily have to over-rule convention, is that it was coined slightly later - probably upon the agreement of a treaty of mutual support against the Viking invaders. The point is that a crude, but representative 'two emperors' appear on coins of this particular period, and that this type was coined jointly at the mints under Mercian and West Saxon control. Archbishop Aethelred of Canterbury did not coin this issue, as he did most of those of Aelfred, so we may assume the type was at least nominally martial. It was also very limited, which leads to a supposition that it was minted to mark a great event rather than as an issue for general circulation. The obvious deduction here is that both kings held equal status through ancestral lineage, and appear together on the reverse of this type. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that they were also friends.
A short time after the creation of the 'Two Emperors' type, it was 'imitated' by the Vikings of the Danelaw. A concerted effort to expand the single-type currency throughout the island of Britain, and for the settlers to be seen as equals to the great Saxon monarchs, and have their own money accepted in each of the kingdoms. There may even have been an agreement between the kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and the settlers to have only one current type of penny, with a common reverse motif, in circulation in a given period. There is good evidence for this in the following type.
Continuing the theme of the common type, the next, or perhaps initially concurrent issue, was the Cross and Lozenge type. This coinage features a bust right obverse without inner circle, and an obverse having a long cross with incurved lozenge centre. It was minted concurrently in Wessex, Mercia, The Danelaw and Kent, at the main mint-towns of London and Canterbury, and also at Oxford, Winchester [and Lincoln ?]. This issue was coined by Aelfred, Ceolwulf II, the Viking settlers and archbishop Aethelred of Canterbury. Obviously a large issue intended for currency transactions, very few coins of this type are extant today. As this was the main type of Ceolwulf's reign - the only other type being the aforementioned Two Emperors - and was minted throughout it, we can estimate its duration at up to five years, c.875-c.880. Upon Ceolwulf's death or dethronement Aelfred ceased to mint the Cross and Lozenge type and initiated the Two-Line coinage, which was to become the mainstay currency for most of the 10th century. Ceolwulf II was the last king to reign in Mercia, after his death the country was under the control of a pro-Wessex ealderman. Minting of the common type continued unabated.
The Cross and Lozenge coinage shows every sign of being a complete success. It may have been so much so under Ceolwulf that provisional mints - such as Oxford - were opened to keep up with the demand for coin. The main Mercian mint of London coined this type in large numbers, and with varied reverse sub-varieties, these having minor details different to the standard issue, such as moline ends to the long cross or no crossbars at the angles of the lozenge. Various pellets are found in the angles of the reverse small cross and/or in the field on these coins, minted under all authorities. These are perhaps used to distinguish the particular melt of silver that the coin came from. London coins all feature a neatly styled bust with elaborate drapery and a double diadem. The uncial M and trefoil of pellets, as Mercian [or common-type ?] minting control symbols, feature prominently within the obverse legend or in the field [rarely on the reverse] on most coins, but are seldom used together. The reverse lozenge occasionally has straight sides and often is not symmetrical, it also varies considerably in size. The orientation of the cross within the lozenge was evidently left to the discretion of the die-maker, and as long as it was present it could be orientated to the angles or incurved sides of the lozenge. The name of the moneyer was split between the four quadrants of the reverse cross. It is thought that London probably had five moneyers at this time, but they evidently either moved mints as required, or travelled to train moneyers at other mints. Leofweald minted for both Ceolwulf II and Aelfred. Oxford probably had only one or two moneyers, one is known at present, Dunn. London is probably also the place of minting for the unique Cross and Lozenge round halfpenny discovered recently. This coin betrays a limited attempt at minting a smaller denomination of this type, probably as a direct result of a slowly changing economy in its shift from barter to monetary transaction for less expensive commodities. The moneyer for this coin is Eanred, a previously unknown moneyer for this type. The coin is heavily chipped but from the extant remainder, essentially no different to pennies of this type, except it is scaled down and the bust drapery is simpler. No smaller denominations are known from the other authorities who minted this type. Around ten Cross & Lozenge coins are extant in the name of Ceolwulf II [illustrated above is perhaps the best privately owned example].
Aelfred of Wessex also employed the mint of London to strike the majority of the Cross & Lozenge coins in his name. The moneyers Herefreth [and probably] Lulla struck for him there, and the prolific moneyer Leofweald struck for both Aelfred and Ceolwulf II at London. Aelfred's London coins differ only in minor details to those of Ceolwulf, with the obvious exception of the obverse legend, which begins above the head or occasionally at 7 o' clock. All have the double diadem and similar elaborate drapery. One die has a Burgred-like bust. A few have the obverse legend ELFRED REX SA or SAX[onorum]. Aelfred also coined at Winchester, and his coins at this mint feature small neat busts, motif's and legends. Two moneyers are known for Winchester in this coinage, Heahstan and Wulfred, but there may have been one or two others. Sometimes the legend REX SA is used. In contrast Aelfred's Canterbury Cross & Lozenge coins are easily identifiable without reference to the obverse. The reverse cross has fleured, semi-circular ends joined to an outer circle above the moneyers name in the quadrants. One moneyer is known for Aelfred at Canterbury, Burgnoth - BVRGNOD - and his office is not shown on his dies as it is on issues of moneyers at the other mints. On these coins of other mints the moneyers name ends in MON[ETArius] or similar. Canterbury coins are on average 1.3 - 1.4g in weight, as are most of the pennies of this type at all mints. The British Museum holds an interesting coin of Aelfred, being a mule between the Two Emperors type [obverse] and the Cross & Lozenge type [reverse]. Unfortunately the coin is fragmented and in a poor state of repair, accessible today only through old drawings. The moneyers name sadly cannot be deciphered and the mint remains unknown, although the full title MONETA is employed.
The church had issued similar pennies to those of the most powerful English monarch since archbishop Jaenberht's joint issues with Offa of Mercia. Aethelred of Canterbury was no exception and issued the Cross & Lozenge coinage of Aelfred at Canterbury. Only five coins of Archbishop Aethelred are extant in total today, three of the Cross & Lozenge type - two of which share an obverse die [SCBI 42 - Southeastern : 629 and EMC 2001.0930] - but they follow the same pattern as those of Aelfred, with the outer circle above the moneyers name, although not joined to the cross arms by small half circles. Weight remains constant, and silver content is reasonable. Two moneyers are known for Aethelred in this type, Torhtmund [one coin] and Aethelmund [two coins], and as with Aelfred's Canterbury coins, the moneyers title is not cut into the reverse dies. Cross bars penetrate the incurved sides of the lozenge on one die [the reverse die of this coin is very similar to a coin of Aelfred, SCBI 16 - Norweb : 141], another has pellets around the small cross and four pellets in the quadrants beneath the moneyers name. No coins of Aethelred are recorded as found with others of the same type. Those of Aelfred and Ceolwulf II have been found together.
Mention should also be made of so-called Viking 'imitations' of this type. In reality these should probably be referred to as belonging to the common-type coinage proper, of the aforementioned authorities. They are issued [and recorded on EMC/SCBI] in the name of Aelfred, as were so many Viking types, but have a very distinguishable bust with the nose at a right angle to the head-line, and tall spiky hair in two ringlets without diadem. Drapery is very similar to others of this type, and overall quality of die-cutting is every bit as good as those of the main mints, with thin, neat lettering. The reverse long cross has plain arms as opposed to beaded ones on all others of this type. Only two of these coins are known, one has the moneyer Raegngeld [cut on the die as REGINGILD, with title MONETA, the 'N' being ligate with arm of the cross in that quadrant], an obviously Scandinavian name, and the other is thought to be issued in the name of the moneyer Lulla, another practice initiated by the Danelaw settlers, who perhaps belived initially that by copying the name of a known moneyer, this would make their coinage more acceptable. The Raegngeld coin stands alone in that its reverse die has crosses below the moneyers name in the four quadrants. This reverse die is cut in the style of Winchester coins of Aelfred.
Findspots are sadly lacking for the majority of Cross & Lozenge coins, especially in the Sylloge series. But confirmed findspots include The Thames in London, the Cathedral green in Winchester, Southampton, Norfolk [at least three coins found in different locations] and near Linton in Cambridgeshire. Of course no firm conclusions can be drawn from such a limited sample of the type, but the findspots given here cover a wide area, showing a probable universal acceptability throughout England ? A coin of Ceolwulf II of this type, 1999.0052, was found with a coin of Aelfred of this type, 1999.0056 in 1998. Both are believed to be 'strays' from the Pitstone, Bucks Hoard. Ex-MillenniaMay2008lot194.