Published: 06:00, 22 September 2021
| Updated: 08:20, 06 October 2021
A pensioner's secret stash of rare coins found by executors clearing out his caravan park home in Kent has sold for £185,000 at auction - more than double the estimate.
John Cross, 72, from Canterbury, died with few knowing of his extraordinary collection, which has been described by experts as among the most important of its kind outside any UK museum.
It was only discovered when executors assessed his property out his mobile home and found documents linked to the Anglo Saxon haul.
The 80 coins were so valuable that Mr Cross had held them in a bank vault for safekeeping.
They had been estimated to sell for £75,000 but keen bidding from collectors at the recent sale at the Canterbury Auction Galleries saw the prices soar.
Most valuable single coin in the collection was an extremely rare gold Thrymsa, or shilling, dating from 640-660 and minted in Northumbria or York, which was estimated at £8,000-12,000 but sold forfor £17,500.
A silver penny minted in 757-796 showing Cynethryth, Queen of the Mercians and wife of King Offa, sold for £7,400 against an estimate of £1,000-1,500. Cynethryth is the only Anglo-Saxon queen known to have an image on a coin. Offa established his power in Kent in the mid-8th century until Egbert, King of Wessex, defeated the Mercian king Beornwulf in 825. A silver penny from Beornwulf’s short reign from 823-825 sold for £3,000.
He amassed the collection over a 20 to 30-year period, with many of the coins having connections to Canterbury, including a silver penny minted for the Archbishop and dating from 765-792. It is estimated to be worth between £2,000 and 2,500.
Another - valued at £2,000 - depicts Cuthred, King of Kent, on a portrait silver penny dated from 798-807.
But the most valuable is an extremely rare gold shilling - almost 1,400 years old - which is thought to be worth as much as £12,000.
The entire collection will now be sold at auction in separate lots and is expected to fetch in the region of £75,000.
Canterbury Auction Galleries is hosting the three-day sale from October 8.
The proceeds will go to The British Numismatic Society and Friends of Kent Churches, as Mr Cross wished.
A spokesman for the executors gave an insight into the enthusiast's incredible collection.
"On inspecting the gentleman’s personal items, it appears he was very much into researching Anglo Saxon and medieval history and had quietly amassed a sizeable collection," he said.
"He had a particular fascination for coinage from the period and he was also interested in early buildings and churches.
"He attended lectures and even held a certificate in archaeological excavation, for which he qualified back in 2010 when he was in his 60s."
Mr Cross's hoard includes many silver pennies, including one from 1066 - a date familiar in schoolboy English history lessons - which is a silver penny minted for King Harold II, who was killed at the Battle of Hastings. It has a guide price of £1,500-£2,000.
Another gold shilling dates back to 635-645 and shows the emperor with a diademed bust. It is worth between £8,000 and £10,000.
Others in the collection are of less value, with estimates starting at £200.
Viewing of the collection is strictly by appointment only through Canterbury Auction Galleries. The sale will be online only.
For more information click here.
This article originally contained an image which was incorrectly captioned as John Cross, this image has been removed and we are happy to correct this error.