Sceatta List

A comprehensive, illustrated, catalogue

of early Anglo-Saxon silver coinage

 

Sceats, the small module silver ‘proto-pennies’, of c.685 – c.750AD, have been classified in two ways – a numerical typology and an alphabetical Series. The typology dates back to the British Museum catalogue of 1888, is chronologically random, lacks meaningful sequencing, contains duplications and Merovingian emissions, suffers omissions and conflates dissimilar types. It is not soundly based on archaeological, historical, finds or distribution evidence.

The Serial classification, devised by Stuart Rigold in 1977, pre-dates the surge of metal detector finds of sceats many of which have been discovered since Michael Metcalf’s magnum opus, ‘Thrymsas and Sceattas in Ashmolean Museum Oxford’ (RNS, 1993), a comprehensive survey based on Rigold’s arrangement.

Unfortunately, neither of these great works makes easy reading for the occasional enquirer. An up-to-date, highly illustrated, inexpensive guide is needed - one which can be followed by those not familiar with the coinage but is nevertheless based on archaeological and metallurgical evidence.

Arranging the catalogue is complicated by the recent emergence of the study of the remarkably varied motifs as the main field of activity following the publication of Anna Gannon’s ‘The Iconography of Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage’ (OUP, 2003). Whilst this is a ground-breaking revelation from start to finish, the language is that of the art historian, which, again, may not suit the infrequent visitor.

Tony Abramson’s solution is a heavily-illustrated catalogue of the entire coinage divided into ten familiar themes of related groups.

This completely re-numbered scheme of arrangement abandons the numerical typology but, for reasons of continuity, retains Rigold’s alphabetical serial references and the ‘eclectic’ labels included in Metcalf. The resultant catalogue (second edition) has 115 groups covering 679 main varieties. At the time of going to press the number of varieties continued to grow, providing collectors with the excitement of being able to add to the corpus.

Sceatta List contains concordances with previous classifications and current catalogues (e.g. Spink), explorations of closely related types, hoard chronology, an expansion of the different styles of drapery displayed on this early Anglo-Saxon coinage, and a useful bibliography. The volatility of market prices for sceats are tackled head on and prices for every variety are given for two grades – approximating to fine and very fine. The supplement Stycas Simplified is only available in the first edition.

 

Sceatta List (second edition) received a top-ten placing in the 2018 International Association of Professional Numismatists book prize.

 

 

422pp, h/b © Tony Abramson. third edition published by Spink, 2018.

 

Review

Sceatta List was reviewed in BNJ 89, 2019 by Rory Naismith.

 

Corrections

The header and images of variety 19-30 have, mysteriously and most regrettably, disappeared from the second edition. This is Series J, type 37, Four bird whorl reverse, and can been seen in Spink's Standard Catalogue 802A.

 

Additional Varieties

Unable to find your coin in Sceatta List? Please contact Tony.

New Variety 1-35, courtesy of Mike Vosper - January 2012:

"Base Gold Thrymsa - Sceat transitional, Type Ib-IIa? / IIa., Mint in Kent, ca.670-690 AD.
12mm - 1.17g

Bust right, the breast is as of type Ib - lines and two annulets depicting arms etc., not a row of annulets across arms and neck as Ty.IIa is. The hair has a forward bent wreath (to resembling a helmet) ending in some annulets - these annulets are only present on the helmeted Ib. It would appear that the die cutter has designed the hair to liken a helmet! In front of the bust is CIIZIO (for CRISPVS blundered), this legend only occurred on Type Ib and not IIa (IIa is TIIC, TIC or AVG). / Type IIa = PADA (in Runic), with three pellets above, in a beaded circle. Tufa on left, and mZCOTIoΛTm (C retrograde).

See S76A for the near obverse, S 769 for both sides - note the busts!
Metcalf, see Vol., 1, page 73, Pa Ib obverse and Pa IIa obverse and reverse.

It would appear that the obverse of our coin is a transition from a helmeted bust to a diademed bust, I know of no other examples and must be EXCESSIVELY-RARE"

Unrecorded variety possibly attributable to Series A, Continental find courtesy of Ype de Jong, December 2020.

Two crosses before bust replace legend, T behind. Rev: degenerate votive standard with crosses and pseudo-characters in margin.

Interesting sub-variety of Series B, SL16-20, images courtesy of Dale Gowing. Note the braided hair on the bust is reminiscent of the portraits on the transitional shillings of Pada, SL1-10 to 1-20

Variety 19-25, improved images courtesy of PAS YorYm-C7-O4B8 and TimeLine 28 Feb 2021.

Variant of 38-10, courtesy of Graeme Lee, March 2021.

Variant of 52-40 courtesy of Steve Harmer, found Kent 2021. Standard bearers have beaded haloes.

New variety 73-80 courtesy of George Walbert. Legend retrograde, fantastic beast left.

New variety 83-40 courtesy of Timothy Scotney.

New variety 104-60 courtesy of Timothy Scotney.

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© Tony Abramson, 2020. Contact Tony at t.abramson@ntlworld.com. Mobile: 07884 113388