Portrait Phase [II] -
Æthelwulf, Penny, ‘Berhtwulf’ Portrait Phase [II], Rochester, Wealhheard, EDELVVLF REX around diademed and draped bust right breaking inner circle, rev. WELLHEARD around cross pattée with two limbs moline, 1.13g/9h (Naismith R31a, this coin; BMC –; cf. N 600; S 1047). Extremely rare; only one other coin of the type for the moneyer listed by Naismith. From the North Yorkshire Moors Collection of Marvin Lessen, auctioned by DNW in 3 lots, 2018-20. Provenance: Adams Family Collection; Massachusetts Historical Society Collection, Part II, Stack’s Auction (New York), 17-18 September 1971, lot 837. Images courtesy of DNW.
It is possible that this piece may be associated with the long-missing coin of Wealhheard in the 1834 Sevington Hoard (Blunt, BNJ 1972, pp.9 and 13, no. 45), which subsequently appeared in the C.W. Loscombe sale in April 1855 and was acquired by T.F. Dymock, although it was not among Dymock’s coins sold in June 1858.
The collection of coins formed by three generations of the Adams family in Massachusetts, donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1913 and dispersed by auction in 1971, was a catholic assemblage which had its origins with John Quincy Adams (1767-1848). J.Q. Adams, the son of John Adams, second President of the United States, himself became the sixth President and served from 1825 to 1829. A learned diplomat with extensive European connections, he had already amassed a sizeable coin collection by 1813 and the late James Risk ventured to suggest that, as his son, Charles Francis Adams (1807-86) had also developed an interest in numismatics, the collection was passed from father to son in the mid-1830s. C.F. Adams became the real numismatist of the family and, during the years when he was the American ambassador in London in the early 1860s he became, according to Risk, “a well-known figure in London’s coin shops”, acquiring a stater from the then-recently discovered Whaddon Chase hoard and a good representative range of Anglo-Saxon and later coins. Almost certainly the present coin was acquired at that time. C.F. Adams’s son, Henry Adams (1838-1918), the historian and author, inherited the collection from his father and added the more modern issues to it before donating it to the MHS in 1913.