Over one thousand years ago near modern-day Cambridge, England, King Ethelbert II of East Anglia, decided to mint coins to commemorate his very successful reign. The only problem was that doing so signaled his independence from the King of Mercia. Offa, the king, didn’t like this one bit. In fact, it’s largely believed that it’s partially responsible for Offa beheading Ethelbert. With a story like that, it’s understandable that someone would pay a bundle for one of these historically significant coins. And pay a bundle they did.
An unidentified person recently discovered one of these Anglo-Saxon coins with a metal detector in Sussex, England. Only four examples have ever been found. Given the time period, the details of King Ethelbert’s coins cannot be verified. Regardless of the details, the mystique drove the price sky-high. The penny, which features King Ethelbert II’s name, was expected to fetch around £15,000–£20,000. Instead, it sold at auction for an unbelievable £78,000, which is approximately $132,500 in U.S. dollars.
The legend of Offa and King Ethelbert II could be ripped straight from Game of Thrones. According to the story, Offa offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to King Ethelbert II in 794. Upon his agreement to the marriage, Ethelbert traveled to a villa belonging to the king. Little did Ethelbert know, what waited was not a marriage but his own death.
Ethelbert was beheaded. During transport the head fell off a cart and into a ditch. After his head was recovered, it was believed to cure a blind man’s sight. This alleged miracle, along with the circumstances of his death, earned King Ethelbert sainthood. Saint Ethelbert is still a recognized saint in the Catholic Church today.
Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in rare coins and currency. We are a family-owned business located in Portland and Vancouver. We also buy gold, silver, diamonds, and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.