The British currency has come a long way since it was first developed in 60-80AD. From simple pieces of metal hammered flat by hand to the waterproof ‘indestructable’ banknotes, the technique of making the currency has improved vastly in the last few centuries.
Currency has also fluctuated in value throughout time and it is interesting to see how early and historical coins translate into modern-day valuations. In this mini-series of four articles, we will look at coins from 900AD all the way up to the 2022 Platinum Jubilee edition coin.
The series kicks off with the Edward the Elder Silver Penny, produced between 899AD-924AD.
This coin is from the Anglo-Saxon era and was made during the reign of Edward the Elder, King of Wessex. Edward’s succession to the throne was rare for this period because though he was the son of Alfred the Great (the former King of Wessex), Kings tended to become King by fighting their way to the top – literally.
Alfred himself had to defend his crown during his reign from the attacks of the Danes and did such a good job that his son could easily inherit the throne after his death. Edward’s reign continued his father’s work and he used both his skills as a soldier and diplomacy to reach a truce with the Danes through the Danelaw. He was also helped by his sister Aethelflaed who was nicknamed ‘Lady of the Mercians’.
The silver penny was made of actual silver and hammered into shape by ‘moneyers’, some of whom were Vikings under Saxon control. The coin had Edward’s name (spelled Eadweard Rex), and on the reverse has the moneyer’s name with crosses above and below it. It is an extremely rare coin due to the era it was made and there aren’t many in recognizable condition.
It is unclear how much the silver penny was worth back then, but nowadays coins in good condition from the era can be bought for between £750-£3000. Some metal detectorists have found them and collected them to be donated or sold.
Next time, we will look at the Henry VII Gold Angel from the Tudor era. We hope you have found this article informative, and let us know in the comments if you’ve ever found one!