Coins

Here we display a selection of coins from different areas of study in order to give an idea of the immense range involved, both in time and distance, and the historical connections of the different pieces shown.

 

The Ancient World

Severus Denarius obvSeverus Denarius rev

Roman Empire, Septimius Severus, 193-211AD, AR Denarius of 210-211AD, commemorating his expedition into Caledonia.
Severus landed with his army in 208AD, and proceeded north to strengthen Hadrian's Wall, recapture the area between that and the Antonine Wall, and to fortify that wall. He then took his army north into Caledonia, and, despite guerilla tactics by the Caledonians, in 210AD exacted an agreement from them agreeing that Rome should have control of the Central Lowlands. In the following year the Caledonians rose in revolt, and Severus planned a punitive expedition intending to slaughter as many as he could find. Before he got far, he fell seriously ill, withdrew south, and died in Eboracum (York). His son, Caracalla, continued the fight, but soon withdrew to the Antonine Wall. Not long after the Romans gave up the whole territory north of Hadrian's Wall, and never attempted an expedition into Caledonia again. A scarce coin.
Photos © Angela Grant 2013-2015

 

The Medieval World

Aethelred II obvAethelred II rev

Kingdom of England, AR Penny (late small cross), Aethelred II 'the Redeless', 978-1016, Moneyer: Dreng of Lincoln.
Usually, but not correctly, referred to as 'Aethelred the Unready', a mistranslation of 'unræd' meaning 'ill-advised'. He came to the throne under the cloud of the murder of his brother, Edward the Martyr, and his kingdom was harried by repeated attacks by the Danes, who were bought off by the payment of tribute or 'danegeld'. His reign ended in a war against Sweyn Forkbeard, the Danish king, and Cnut, Sweyn's successor, Cnut being the final victor, uniting the Crowns of England and Denmark.
Photos © Angela Grant 2013-2015

 

The Modern World

Potosi 8 Reales obvPotosi 8 Reales rev

Spanish America, Carlos IV, 1788-1808, AR Eight Reales (Spanish Dollar), 1795, Mint: Potosi (Bolivia).
A late example of the Spanish 'Peso de ocho' or 'Piece of eight' famed in many a pirate tale. Because of their fineness and consistency these coins became a standard currency throughout the world, and became the basis for many later world currencies, including South American Pesos, US and Canadian Dollars, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan.
Photos © Angela Grant 2013-2015

 

The World of Islam

Sudan Khalifa Abdullah obvSudan Khalifa Abdullah rev

Sudan, 'Abd Allah ibn Mohammed al-Taaishi, Khalifat al-Mahdi (the Khalifa Abdullah), 1885-1898AD.
AE Twenty Piastres, Omdurman Mint, 1315AH (1897/8AD)
On the death of Mohammed Ahmad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Mahdi in 1885AD, 'Abd Allah was one of three successors appointed by al-Mahdi. However, he soon emerged as leader and altered the direction of the Mahdiyya to a jihadist state intent on expansion. His attack on Ethiopia was initially successful but, although a counter-attack by Yohannes IV resulted in the latter's death, there was a failure to follow through. An attack on Egypt was repulsed, and followed by an invasion by an Anglo-Egyptian force under Kitchener resulting in the death of 'Abd Allah, and the extinguishing of the Mahdiyya.
The state suffered from economic difficulties and the amount of silver in the coinage was gradually reduced until it was virtually nothing by the time this coin was issued.
Photos © Angela Grant 2014-15

 

The Indian Sub-continent

Devagiri Ramachandra obvDevagiri Ramachandra rev

Yadavas (Seuna) of Devagiri, Ramachandra, 1271-1310AD, AV Padma Tanka.
Devagiri was the victim of the expansionist policies of the Delhi Sutanate. 'Ala ed-din Khalji captured the city in 1294AD, but allowed Ramachandra to remain in place for a substantial ransom and annual tribute. 'Ala ed-din sacked the royal treasury, and it is said on his return to Delhi he threw handfuls of these coins into the welcoming crowds. Ramachandra failed to pay the tribute, and, in 1307AD, a force under Malik Kafur captured Ramachandra, almost without resistance, and took him to Delhi. The king was again restored provided he helped 'Ala ed-din against the Hindu kingdoms further south. His successor Singhana III revolted against Delhi but was killed by Malik Kafur's army in 1313AD. The kingdom was annexed to the sultanate.
Photos © Angela Grant 2015

 

The Far East

Wu zhu obvWu zhu rev

China, Western Han dynasty, AE Wu zhu.
These coins were introduced by the Western Han dynasty in 118BC and continued to be minted and used for several hundred years after that, with the minor interruption of the numismatically interesting, but economically disastrous reign of the usurper Wang Mang (9-23AD).
The coin name is an indication of the weight of the coin equalling five Zhu. The Chinese ounce or Liang (c. 16 grams) was divided into 24 zhu. This means the Wu zhu should weigh c.3.5 grams, but individual coins vary considerably. The example shown weighs 4.00 grams.
Photos © Angela Grant 2016.

 

Tokens

17 cent token Oxford John Tey obv17 cent token Oxford John Tey rev

British Seventeenth Century Tokens, Oxford, John Tey at the Angel Inn, AE Farthing.
In the British Civil War and its aftermath small change was hard to come by and a vast number of copper and brass tokens were issued by private traders all over the country. The Angel Inn was in High Street Oxford and created by Magdalen College from a smaller inn in 1510. It became a prominent coaching inn and was substantially rebuilt in 1663. It is mentioned several times by Anthony Wood. The bulk of the building was demolished in 1876 to make way for the Examination Schools. Of the 1663 building only 83 and 84 (The Grand Café) High Street remain. The name survives in the Angel & Greyhound Meadow, where the horses of the patrons of the Angel Inn and the Greyhound Inn were let out to graze.
Photos © Angela Grant 2015-2019

 

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