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Offa of Mercia (757-96), silver penny

Offa of Mercia (757-96), silver penny, light issue pre-792, East Anglian mint (Ipswich?), moneyer Lul, obv. +OFFA REX, portrait right; rev. ’lul’ (in runes), wolf suckling two twins in rectangular frame (unique and unpublished), 1,10g, chipped. Found near Needham Market, Suffolk, January 2003.

This is one of the most spectacular new types to be discovered in Offa’s innovative coinage. The Wolf-and-Twins design was previously known only from the coinage of the East Anglian usurper Æthelberht, whom Offa had put beheaded in 794. The design, copied from Roman coins, was thought to have been chosen by King (Saint) Æthelberht as a pun on the name of his family, the Wuffingas, but if as seems likely this coin of Offa precedes those of Æthelberht that explanation may be discounted. The only other known portrait coin by the moneyer Lul, has a novel zoomorphic reverse, but that was derived from a Canterbury coin (documented by a fragment in the Chick collection). The Wolf-and-Twins design may, therefore, also derive from a lost Kentish prototype. Lul was also the moneyer of the Æthelberht coins, and after Offa’s death he went on to strike coins for another East Anglian usurper, King Eadberht, and for Coenwulf of Mercia.

Purchased from the Leverton Harris Fund and Grierson Fund