The production and use of coinage are closely tied to many other aspects of social history, as is demonstrated in this accessible and engaging book. Focusing on smaller denominations, both those produced officially and the ingenious local responses to a lack of small change, it presents an overview of the development of money around the world, before discussing the story in Britain in detail.
Northern England’s monetary history was quite distinct from that of the south in the pre-Viking period, and Abramson’s ambitious book is one of the few sustained discussions of it. Across eight chapters that fizz with new information, he establishes the idiosyncratic framework of Northumbrian coinage in terms of what he (with tongue only partly in cheek) calls gold, silver, and bronze.
In a period that is largely defined by the Romans and their written histories, thanks to a relatively poor archaeological record, coinage offers one of the best ways of learning about Britain’s sometimes elusive Late Iron Age tribes. A ten-year study of the coins of the East Anglian Iceni by John Talbot has delved into the production, distribution, and characteristics of their currency, illuminating previously unknown aspects of their culture. Here, he explores questions of identity, and hunts for hidden faces.