This article from the Tamsworth Herald discusses the numismatic legacy of King Offa.
OFFA, the powerful 8th century king who made Tamworth his favourite habitat, left several lasting legacies – Offa's Dyke and the Diocese of Lichfield among them.
But his most enduring legacy, probably introduced to impress the great European emperor Charlemagne, King of the Franks, is an item so small that we rarely give it a second thought, even though it is still in everyday use.
Throughout the ages its size, weight and physical make-up has seen many changes, but the name remains the same – the penny.
It was about the year 785 when he introduced the silver penny, a coin that would impress his subjects and most of Europe.
Until then a coin called the sceat, which weighed 20 troy grains, was the most prolific coin used for trading, both in Britain and in mainland Europe.
The new penny was very impressive, with different profiles of Offa's head embossed, along with different inscriptions, including 'Offa Rex', which simply means 'King Offa', and 'Rex Anglorum' which translates to 'King of the English'.
There were several different portrayals of the great man, all intended to show him at his best.
He also had a coin struck portraying his wife, Queen Cynethryth, which was unique as no other queen in Anglo-Saxon times enjoyed such an honour.
The coins, probably struck at several different mints but mainly at Canterbury, weighed slightly heavier than the sceat, having a designated value of 24 troy grains (one pennyweight of silver or about 1.5 gms.).
A sum total of 240 of these sterling silver coins weighed one pound, hence the name £1 sterling.
To read the complete article, see:
King Offa's penny gift to posterity
Wayne Homren, Editor
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