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Medieval Coins

After the fall of Rome, most of Europe entered a period referred to as the Dark Ages, which resulted in the loss of much of the world's developments in technology and knowledge. Throughout the Dark Ages, coins consisted of a mixture of reused Roman coinage with support from Byzantine coins that made their way across the continent with traveling merchants. As the region recovered from the Dark Ages, coins began to be minted once again. While rudimentary compared to the standard of Rome and Byzantium, they were coins nonetheless.

The Anglo Saxons made small silver coins called sceattas, which are regarded as the predecessor to the modern penny due to their size, weight, and estimated value. Coins returned to featuring the head of the ruler on the obverse by the end of the 8th century. The names of the ruler and the issuer were also added to most coins. Coinage continued to evolve over the next several hundred years, gradually adding visual and textual details and refining the minting process.

High-quality coins were again produced by various kingdoms and independent cities in the 13th and 14th centuries. The free city of Aachen in modern day Germany was noted for producing especially noteworthy coins. Until 1491, Aachen's periodically minted groschen coins featured Charlemagne on the obverse, referencing Aachen's history as Charlemagne's imperial capital and seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Beginning in 1372, these groschens were dated in anno domini (A.D.). This trend spread through most other medieval coins, though complete adoption took another several hundred years. Spain was one of the last nations to date in A.D., holding out until the end of the 16th century.


Quick Facts

  • A Danish penny currently holds the record for being the first coin with an A.D. date. The penny is dated 1234, in Latin, and is also unusual because it does not feature a ruler in either type or legend
  • The pound system originates with Charlemagne, who created a standard based on the Roman libra, a pound of weight
  • A portrait denarius pfennig from the reign of Charlemagne was sold at auction for 160,000 euros in 2012. The coin was likely minted in either 800 or 812 A.D.

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Sellers Who Sell Medieval Coins


Nomisma S.p.a

Nomisma S.p.a

Eternity Gallery

Eternity Gallery

Waddington's

Waddington's

Gold Standard Auctions

Gold Standard Auctions