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New purchase - William the Conqueror Penny

BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,372 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited June 27, 2023 12:10PM in World & Ancient Coins Forum

I have owned this penny, which is usually attributed to William the Conqueror for quite a while. It is nice, but there was some question as whether it might have been issued during the time of his son, William II, who is also known as Rufus. It is the Pax type.

Here are the notes from my notebook.

William the Conqueror Penny, Spink 1257, North 848 “The Pax Type Type(1083 to 1086?)
Obverse: Pillelm Rex, “William King”
Reverse: +Edric on Lvnd “Eadric (moneyer) from London” PAXS “Peace”
The often cited dates for this piece are 1083 to 1086. There is school of thought that this coin was issued during the early rule of William II (Rufus). The reason is that the PAX types were sometimes issued during the first years of a king’s rule.
Overstruck coin evidence shows that this piece was struck after the early years of William’s rule. Also to have issued a piece proclaiming “peace” during the early period of William’s reign would have been ludicrous. William was constantly at war subduing his Anglo-Saxon enemies. Therefore this type could have been issued at the end of William the Conqueror’s rule when he had firmly established his rule in England.
It is also possible that this type was issued during the reigns of both kings. It could have marked the end of the William the Conqueror era and the beginning of the William II reign.
The “PAXS” type was considered to be quite rare until June 30, 1833 when four children discovered the Beaworth Hoard which contained at least 6,439 pieces. This is the eighth and most common type of the William the Conqueror pennies.

Recently I acquired this piece which is the "stars" type. There is no question. This piece was issued during the time of William the Conqueror. These are Heritage images.

William The Conqueror Penny, Spink 1254, North 845, “The Stars Type” B.M.C. 5 (1074 to 1077?)
Obverse: Pillelm Rex, “William King”
Reverse: Brihtric moneyer
The meaning of the two stars on this piece has been speculative. Some believe that it was symbolic of the two comets. The first one, which we now call Halley’s Comet, was seen before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was taken to be a bad omen for Harold II and a good omen for William the Conqueror. This comet is pictured on the Bayeux Tapestry. Some have said the second stands for the Palm Sunday Comet which was seen in 1077.
The problem with these theories is the dates for this type of penny, 1074 to 1077. The year 1066 would seem to be too early to include on this piece and obviously 1077 would be too late. The conclusion is the symbolism of the stars has been lost to history.

Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?

Comments

  • Bob13Bob13 Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BillJones - thanks as always for the informative post. I had that William penny on my HA watch list - seems like a great example!

    My current "Box of 20"

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Bob13 said:
    @BillJones - thanks as always for the informative post. I had that William penny on my HA watch list - seems like a great example!

    It’s not quite good as it might seem. There is a little corrosion on the left side of the obverse, but it’s still a nice example, and it’s not the PAX variety which is the vast majority of the examples you see offered.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • NapNap Posts: 1,698 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice coins. There are a number of different types of William and one day I’d like to have representative examples of all of them.

    For now I just have this one coin of William, the so-called sword type

    To me it makes more sense to see William with the sword. It’s just fits better with what we know about William.

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,965 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Just a minor correction on the notes for the second coin: the obverse legend isn't "PILLELM REX", it's "PILLEM REX AN" - that "AN" at the end is significant, as it of course is abbreviated Latin for "Anglia" - England.

    And just a trivia point, for anyone not aware: the "P" acting as a "W" in William's name on both these coins isn't actually a letter "P" as we use it today; it's the letter wynn, the Old English letter pronounced like "W", but the shape is borrowed and adapted from Saxon runes. In appearance, it was supposed to be written halfway between a "P" and a "D". It fell out of favour not long after the Norman invasion because, well, unless you're writing very carefully, wynn, P and D can all look very much alike, and this was the Dark Ages - nobody outside of the monasteries was "writing very carefully" very much, and the monasteries were mostly still writing in proper Latin, without such barbaric substitutions.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you for the clarifications and information, @Sapyx. There is no “wynn” on the modern keyboard and probably none among the available shapes under the “symbols” button, so I used the “P.”:

    The addition of “AN” to the second piece is a welcome piece of information. I find these coins far harder to read than the imperial Roman pieces. The medieval alphabet is part of the problem, but the condition of the dies is usually most of the problem. Most of the letters are very squishy and often look like a series of “Is” next to each other.

    The main reference I have for reading these coins is “England’s Striking History” which was edited by Chris Henry Perkins. The William the Conqueror chapter does not have that much detail.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Nap said:
    Nice coins. There are a number of different types of William and one day I’d like to have representative examples of all of them.

    For now I just have this one coin of William, the so-called sword type

    To me it makes more sense to see William with the sword. It’s just fits better with what we know about William.

    I looked at the eight B.M.C. varieties of William the Conqueror Pennie’s that are listed in the Spink guide. I thought about collecting them all for about a nanosecond and came back to reality. At least they would easier than the rest of the Norman kings. Those coins are hard to find in half way recognizable condition. That’s the new grade I have given them.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Nap said:
    Nice coins. There are a number of different types of William and one day I’d like to have representative examples of all of them.

    For now I just have this one coin of William, the so-called sword type

    To me it makes more sense to see William with the sword. It’s just fits better with what we know about William.

    Yes, the same thing applies to William II, Rufus. I have him with a sword.

    And with the stars.

    At this time, all of them should and needed to have swords. "Nice guys finished dead."

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • John ConduittJohn Conduitt Posts: 346 ✭✭✭
    edited June 28, 2023 11:36AM

    Great examples.

    Do you know where the dating comes from? None of Spink, the British Museum/BMC or Allen (2012) give dates.

    Carlyon-Britton (1905) has the two stars type as Michaelmas 1077 to Michaelmas 1080, which is different and rather precise, I think based on an assumption around tax collection. Perhaps he was also making assumptions based on the comets, since it fits with the Palm Sunday Comet.

    BMC (Brooke, 1916) says that even the attribution of 8 types to William I and 5 to William II is simply down to the proportion of time allocated to each i.e. it uses a comparable number of years per type (2-3 years) with no other reason than it is evenly spread.

    Carlyon-Britton vs 'current'(?) assumptions:
    Type 1 (profile left): 1066-1068 - same as current
    Type 2 (bonnet): 1068-1071, currently 1068-1070
    Type 3 (canopy): 1068-1071 - error? 1071-1074? - currently 1070-1072
    Type 4 (2 sceptres): 1074-1077, currently 1072-1074
    Type 5 (2 stars): 1077-1080, currently 1074-1077
    Type 6 (sword): 1080-1083, currently 1077-1080
    Type 7 (profile right): 1083-1086, currently 1080-1087
    Type 8 (pax): 1086-1087, currently 1083-1086

    So less time is given to the earlier issues and it catches up again with Type 7, which, for some reason, runs from the 2 stars type through sword and past the end of pax. How someone decided the bonnet type needed a year cut off I have no idea, but it's that sort of decision that gives the 2 stars type a start date of 1074 instead of 1077.

    Anyway, I don't have any concerns about one of the stars being Halley's Comet a decade after it appeared. It's clear they made a big deal of it being a good omen for his Conquest, and if another comet turned up it would be natural to reference it. What that second comet/star/celestial event was is the question, and the dates are crucial to that, but apparently they are not in any way established.

  • @Sapyx said:
    and this was the Dark Ages

    In the 11th century? Even if the term had some semblance of validity left that would be one hell of a stretch :)

    Both the use of VV (there was no 'double-U' back then) and P were less indicative of barbarism than the inability of Latin consonants to reproduce all Teutonic sounds, be they Frankish or Anglo-Saxon. It was king Chilperic who first complained about it in the 6th century, and as a remedy had added four new letters of Greek or Runic origin to the Latin alphabet. Regarding spelling accuracy in England outside monasteries, rest assured that most royal charters of William's chancery were written in proper Latin, as was the majority of documents of the period for that matter.

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