S.1313, York, Flag type -
Stephen (1135-54), Penny, 0.97g, local and irregular issues of the Civil War, Flag / Ornaments type, York, + STIEF-N-E R, crowned and draped bust right, holding staff with flag or 'triple banner' in right hand, an unclear symbol in field to right of banner, rev. cross moline in circle surrounded by B W BST D W ES+, some letters retrograde, decorative symbols within the legend at the four cardinal points, additionally a five pointed star and a six pointed star, both in circles, the letters and symbols all carefully positioned and for the most part extremely clear (Mack 217; N.919; S.1313), rare. Images and selected text reproduced by kind permission of Spink and Son Ltd, London, 18048 - The Williams Collection Part III - Norman Coins, lot 442. Provenance: Purchased from Spink, October 1991.
The Standard: It was at the end of the 19th century that A E Packe suggested that the the flag which replaces the sceptre on the obverse of these coins represents the standard erected, under the directions of Archbishop Thurstan, on the battlefield at Northallerton when a Yorkshire army defeated a Scottish invasion force under king David (the 'Battle of the Standard'), in 1138. (A E Packe, 'The Coins of Stephen' in NC 3rd series. 16 (1896), 68, and others). Nearly 100 years later, Peter Seaby suggested the banner represents the papal standard presented to Stephen at the time of the Second Crusade in 1147. (P Seaby, 'A new 'Standard' type for the reign of king Stephen' in BNJ 53 (1983) pp.14-18). More recently George Boon pointed out that the equestrian figure of the king on the reverse of the Second Great Seal of Stephen (in use after 1141), also depicts the king carrying a streaming standard, instead of the usual sword.
The letters and symbols on the reverse have not been fully interpreted. A few reverse dies appear to show a literate mint signature ON EV, but the majority, like this coin, have an apparently meaningless combination of letters and symbols or ornaments. We have taken the cross patteé to signify the end of the 'legend'. Several examples clearly show the shield decorated with roundels (here at 9 o'clock), which might represent the shield of Boulogne. The symbol in the obverse field has been described as a star but it appears more complex then that (a quatrefoil over a saltire?).
There are at least 40 Pennies and 10 cut halfpennies of the type known, and the letters and symbols vary considerably. The 23 Pennies listed in detail by Allen (NC 2006, pp. 304-306), are struck from 20 different pairs of dies, suggesting that surviving examples are only a small representation of a prolific coinage, and supporting Blackburn's conclusion that the flag type was the principle York coinage of the second half of the 1140s.