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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Kings of Mercia

Table of Contents

Offa, 757 to 796.

Offa is the first Mercian king to whom we can, with certainty, assign any coins; they are all pennies, and the most remarkable in the whole Anglo-Saxon series. The arrangement and the ornaments of the reverses are extremely varied, and many of them very elegant; and, in the representation of the king's head, there is an attempt at portraiture, and a tolerable effort, by variations of relief, to produce light and shade, and some appearance of fleshiness. This singularity of his coins is usually attributed to his having himself visited Rome, and having probably brought from thence Italian artists.

The types of his coins are too numerous to engrave in this work, and too intricate to describe. To Ruding, plates 4. 5. 27. 28. 29. and C. the reader is therefore referred, and we must be content here to describe the general character of his types, and engrave a few, which will be sufficient to give an idea of the usual nature of his coins.

  1. The king's head, with or without an inner circle, generally accompanied with his name and title (65), (66); but sometimes with the name of a moneyer, the king's name being, in those instances, placed upon the reverse, which are of a great variety of forms. In one instance, Rud. iv. 7., the king's name appears on both sides.
  2. The king's name written across the field in two or three lines. Rev. moneyer's name, also generally written across, with some accompanying ornament (62), or inclosed in a compartment (63), or written around the type (61). These are probably amongst his earlier coins. Some of them, Rud. iv. 19, exactly corresponding with that of Eadvald his predecessor.
  3. Ornamental types on both sides, generally including the name of the king and moneyer (64). Though the coins of Offa are so numerous that they can scarcely be called rare, yet each type is rare. Ruding's figg. 9, 12, 13, 20, 21, 30, are the least so; indeed of the others it is extremely difficult to find a duplicate specimen.
He is generally styled Rex, Rex Y, or Merciorum. No place of mintage is mentioned on his coins; his moneyers amount to about forty or fifty. The proper weight of his coins was probably about 20 gr.; an average of forty, which were weighed amounted only to 18 gr. One in the Hunter collection is stated at 26 4/10, but this must have been accidental.

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