Artistic Influences on Anglo-Saxon Coinage

There are three sources of influence on the designs of the coins that stand out: Roman coins recovered from the soil in Anglo-Saxon times; contemporary Continental coin issues; and Germanic or indigenous art forms which in most cases have not survived in any other form. (The coins below are not shown to scale.)

Roman Coinage

Busts

Image["Anglo-Saxon gold solidus, mid-seventh century, lent by Dr Stewart Lyon"]

Anglo-Saxon gold solidus, mid-seventh century. The obverse imitates gold solidi of the late-fourth century. Lent by Dr Stewart Lyon.

Image["Gold solidus of Emperor Constantine I, Nicomedia, 335 A. D., on loan from Emmanuel College"]

Prototype: gold solidus of Emperor Constantine I (307-37), Nicomedia, 335 A. D. CM.EM.61-R, Emmanuel College Collection.

Two Emperors

Image["Anglo-Saxon gold shilling, c. 660, CM.1562-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Anglo-Saxon gold shilling, c. 660, Two Emperors type. CM.1562-2007, De Wit Collection.

Image["Gold solidus of Emperor Magnus Maximus, London, 383X88 A. D., CM.RI.1863-R"]

Prototype: gold solidus of Emperor Magnus Maximus (383-88), London. CM.RI.1863-R.

Wolf and Twins

A she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the traditional founders of Rome in the 8th century B. C.

Image["Silver early penny, Series V, c. 720-30, CM.1977-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series V, c. 720-30. CM.1977-2007, De Wit Collection.

Image["Bronze coin of Emperor Constantine I, Urbs Roma type, Trier, 330-1 A. D., on loan from Gonville & Caius College"]

Prototype: bronze coin of Emperor Constantine I (307-37), Urbs Roma type, Trier, 330-31 A. D. CM.CA.603-R, Gonville & Caius College Collection.

Contemporary Continental coinage

Merovingian

The Merovingian kings of the Franks ruled the territories across the Channel from the Anglo-Saxons until their replacement by the Carolingian dynasty in 751.

Image["Gold tremissis of King Eadbald of Kent, London, c. 630, lent by Lord Stewartby"]

Gold tremissis of Eadbald King of Kent (604-40), London, c. 630, reading AVDVARLÐ REGES (King Eadbald). Lent by Lord Stewartby.

Image["Gold Merovingian tremissis, 'Saxsebacio' mint by the moneyer 'Ciuncelus', 600-30, Grierson Collection"]

Prototype: gold Merovingian tremissis, unlocated mint 'Saxsebacio' by moneyer 'Ciuncelus', 600-30. PG.10720, Grierson Collection.

Carolingian

Image["Silver penny of King Coenwulf of Mercia, London, 796-821, Blunt Collection"]

Silver penny of King Coenwulf of Mercia (796-821), London, 796-821. The portrait is probably copied from contemporary coins of Emperor Louis the Pious, which were in turn inspired by Roman coin portraits. CM.1.162-1990, Blunt Collection.

Image["Gold solidus of Louis the Pious, uncertain mint, 816X19, Grierson Collection"]

Prototype: gold solidus of Emperor Louis the Pious (814-40) in a filigree frame, uncertain mint (perhaps Aachen), 816-19. PG.8162, Grierson Collection.

Germanic or Insular Art

Backward-looking beasts

Image["Silver early penny, Series Q1g, c. 725-40; CM.1885-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series Q1g, c. 725-40. CM.1885-2007, De Wit Collection.

Image["Detail from seventh-century gold bracteate pendant"]

Detail of a gold bracteate pendant, seventh century, bearing Style II animals of which one shown here. M.63-1904, from excavations at King's Field, Faversham. Not to scale.

Standing figures

Image["Silver early penny, Series W, c. 700-15; CM.1635-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series W, c. 700-15, bearing picture of man in beard and tunic carrying two crosses. CM.1635-2007, De Wit Collection.

Image["Silver early penny, Series N, c. 715-25; CM.1863-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series N, c. 715-25. CM.1863-2007, De Wit Collection

Facing busts

Image["Silver early penny, Series Q1g, c. 725-40; CM.1890-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series Q1g, c. 725-40, bearing facing bust. CM.1890-2007, De Wit Collection.

Image["Silver early penny, Series Z, c. 715-20; CM.1614-2007, De Wit Collection"]

Silver early penny, Series Z, c. 715-20; the bearded and moustached face contrasts with the clean-shaven appearance of the previous coin. CM.1614-2007, De Wit Collection.

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