Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage

Tony Abramson

Tony Abramson has studied the small, early Anglo-Saxon silver penny, or sceat* since the mid-1990s. He has organised a  series of biennial international symposia, usually held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. These have resulted in the publication of papers presented at the symposia together with other material in Studies in Early Medieval Coinage, edited by Tony. Volumes 1 and 3 are available from Spink: https://www.spink.com/.

He has also published a number of stand-alone books. The first, Sceattas: An Illustrated Guide, sold 1,500 copies and was short-listed for the inaugural North Book Prize. This is superceded by the much more detailed Sceatta List, a radical re-arrangement of the corpus of early-pennies, now widely cited, for example, in auction catalogues. The second edition, available from Spink, extends the number of main varieties to 679 categorized in 115 groups, organized into 10 themes. This has been nominated for the 2018 IAPN book prize.

Tony's Anglo-Saxon Counterfeits is an invaluable aid to collectors in this age of burgeoning duplicity, especially on the internet. It not only collates all previous major publications of fakes but includes all the Anglo-Saxon material from both the British Museum and the AH Baldwin “Black Museum”. Moreover, all modern reproductions including those by Ashmore, Grunal and the makers of so-called ‘museum replicas’, often passed off as genuine by unscrupulous traders on unsuspecting novices, are arranged by Spink number.


Tony's doctoral thesis 'Where There's Muck, There's Brass, Coinage in the Northumbrian Landscape and economy, c. 575 - c.867' (University of York, 2016), bases its analysis on a digitization of Elizabeth Pirie's corpus of stycas in her seminal Coins of the Kingdom of Northumbria c.700-867 (Galata, 1996) combined with the University of York's database of early medieval portable artefacts, VASLE.  The volume and mix of coins and artefacts by location reflects varying levels of regional enterprise. The thesis also reveals Bishop Paulinus as issuer of the York gold shillings (627-33).


For the specialist research, Tony's volume 69 of the British Academy's Sylloge of the Coins of the British Isles was published in 2018 and is available from Spink. The collection is on lifetime loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.


Tony has been President of the Yorkshire Numismatic Society since 2011 and in November 2017 received the British Numismatic Society's presitgious Jeffrey North prize for services to numismatics.

* pronounced ‘skeets’, preferably not sceattas (‘shatters’). Early- or proto-penny is the preferred description.

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© Tony Abramson, 2018. Contact Tony at t.abramson@ntlworld.com. Mobile: 07884 113388