A Sceat or Sceatta was a tiny, thick silver coin usually measuring about 3mm in diameter (about an 1/8th of an inch in old money). They were minted in England and on the Continent during the Anglo-Saxon period. Sceats are diverse in origin and design, and highly sort after by collectors.
Toovey’s coin and antiquities specialist, Mark Stonard, explains “The large number of finds by detectorists in the last 30 years or so has dramatically altered our understanding of this coinage. They were certainly used across eastern and southern England from the early 8th century.
You can see the influence of the Celts and the Vikings in the two coins entered for my next specialist sale of coins on 11th July from a private West Sussex collector. The first depicts a standard bearer in a hatched tabard looking to the right. On the reverse there is a serpent whorl. Tony Abramson who is one of the leading authorities has recorded this sceat as being a unique new variety. The find was made in the Storrington district here in West Sussex in April this year. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £800-£1200. The second coin has a Woden style head, unusually depicted with amulets by the neck. On its reverse is a depiction of a dragon. The beast is looking back on itself and is perhaps influenced by the Vikings. It’s again estimated at £800-£1200.”
Mark continues “They’re Southern types often found south of the Thames. The large number of detectorist finds is extending our knowledge and understanding of the coinage and their times with many coins being re-attributed to specific districts and areas, challenging the long-held view that the majority were made in Kent and the Thames estuary. From the early 700s there was an expansion of minting all over southern and eastern England in every major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It’s entirely possible that these examples could have been minted here in Sussex which was part of the kingdom of Wessex.”
The strength of the market for coins is bringing fine collections from all periods to auction. A number of collections of sceats have been sold at Toovey’s in recent times. The six sceats illustrated totalled more than £2000.
Mark concludes “The specialist collectors’ fields like coins, antiquities, medals and militaria remain really strong and its exciting that our understanding of sceats continues to grow.”
Mark Stonard is still inviting entries for his next specialist sale of coins on Tuesday 11th July 2023 and can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955.