Unique English silver penny found by metal detectorist realizes $130,922 in Dix Noonan Webb auction in London

Coin, one of four known from King Æthelberht II, sells June 11
By , Coin World
Published : 06/12/14
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A unique silver penny minted for Æthelberht II, which was found by metal detectorist Darrin Simpson in early March 2014, realized £78,000 ($130,922 in U.S. funds) in Dix Noonan Webb’s June 11 auction in London.

The price realized for the 1,200-year-old coin includes the 20 percent buyer’s fee and was far above the estimate of £15,000 to £20,000. An Internet bidder won the lot.

“There was fierce bidding for this unique coin,” according to a statement released by Dix Noonan Webb. “The price paid shows that the worldwide market for important pieces like this Æthelberht II coin is extremely strong.”

Simpson, the 48-year-old metal detectorist from Eastbourne, Sussex, who found the coin, said: “It’s fantastic, an amazing result. I am really quite shocked.” 

He will give half the money to the Sussex farmer who owns the field where the coin was found and another quarter to the three friends who were detecting with him when he discovered it in early March this year.

The Anglo-Saxon coin may provide a clue to the murder of East Anglian king Æthelberht II by a neighboring monarch.

Simpson had spent about an hour at an unidentified site in Sussex with friends when they were caught in a hailstorm.

Simpson, who has been a metal detectorist for 12 years, was hurrying to shelter when he picked up a signal on his detector. Though the signal sounded like others that had merely turned out to be World War II-era .303 munitions, and despite the weather, Simpson dug down 6 to 8 inches and found the penny.

The penny has been identified by experts as the only one of its type ever discovered, according to Dix Noonan Webb.

“I thought it was a Saxon coin, the first one I had found, and I was very happy about that,” Simpson said.

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