12th July 2024

Henry III Gold Penny Sells For £648,000 At Auction

Michael Leigh-Mallory- Henry-III-Gold-Penny

Metal detecting is a fantastic hobby. Combining as it does our love of history with a curiosity about uncovering a past that was lost. But sometimes life gets in the way and other things take priority. This was the case with Michael Leigh-Mallory. 

Michael had put his hobby on the back burner until his two children, Emily 13 and Harry 10 encouraged him to take them metal detecting. 

It was shortly after taking up the hobby again that Michael found the Henry III gold penny. Buried just 10cm deep on farmland near the Devon village of Hemyock. At first, he did not realise what he had found. But after posting a picture of the coin on social media it was seen by the auctioneers Spink in London.

Michael Leigh-Mallory with Henry III gold penny
Michael Leigh-Mallory was pictured holding one of only eight Henry III gold pennies discovered.
Photo courtesy of Facebook/Michael Leigh-Mallory.

The gold penny was struck in about 1257 by the king’s goldsmith, William of Gloucester, with precious metal imported from north Africa.

The coin features a portrait of the bearded and crowned Henry III on his throne, and about 52,000 of them were minted.

Gregory Edmund, a senior numismatist at Spink, said: “Not only does this stand as the most valuable single coin find in British history, but also the most valuable medieval English coin ever sold at auction.”

It became apparent they were financially unviable because the value of the coin was less than its weight in gold and almost all were melted down. Michael’s is only the eighth known example.

Describing the moment he found the treasure, Michael said: “My trowel exposed the coin. The sun was shining over my shoulder and it glistened. My heart jumped; I thought: ‘This is gold.’ As I picked it up, the sun glinted on the king and my heart seemed to stop.”

Michael said he would continue metal detecting, though did not expect to find anything as valuable again. “But it’s not about money. It’s about finding connections to our past.” And I think that is something we can all agree with.

Nokta Makro Legend

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