Classical Numismatic Group (19% buyer’s premium) had conservatively estimated the mid-10th century Eric Bloodaxe silver penny (right) at $30,000. On the day, a Norwegian dealer bidding on a phone in the room bought it on behalf of a private collector.
The vendor was also a private collector.
CNG says that this result sets a new record for an English silver penny, beating the £65,000 hammer paid for a King Aethelberht of East Anglia penny at London saleroom Dix Noonan Webb in June 2014. The same Bloodaxe coin had sold for £9350 when it was last offered at a London auction in 1997.
David Guest of CNG says: “I believe there are 18 known sword-type pennies of Eric Bloodaxe including the example we sold. Our example and one other damaged specimen, once in the Mack collection, are the only ones in private hands that I am aware of. Since 1955 our coin is the only specimen to have appeared at auction.”
Bloodaxe was expelled from York in 954AD for the final time and King Eadred of Wessex and England gained control.
Guest says the coin is “the most desirable of all Viking coins” because Bloodaxe is “the most famous Viking, it has a sword on the obverse, it is extremely rare and in very good condition – many of the other known examples are damaged or mere fragments”. He adds that it has “a potent combination of exceptional historical and iconographic interest together with extreme rarity and quality”.
CNG is based in Bloomsbury Street, London, and the US, and offered this coin in the Triton XX sale during the New York International Numismatic Convention.