by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe
February 25, 2016 – It all started with a political wedding. Henry II, heir to the English throne and Duke of Normandy, married recently divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine. The English king thus became a vassal of the French ruler, and that was a rather unpleasant situation to them both. The war broke out because, after a whole number of heirs to the French throne had died in a short period of time, the English king unexpectedly remained the closest surviving relative of Philip the Fair. The fight for the French crown not only caused great suffering to the people but also gave birth to some of the most beautiful coins in English monetary history, making the Anglo-Gallic coins a highly popular collecting area.
P & B R Withers & S D Ford, Anglo-Gallic Coins. Galata Print, Llanfyllin, Powys 2015. 200 p. with 631 photos, 154 line drawings and 334 color enlargements. A4, hardback, thread stitching. ISBN 978-1-908715-07-4. 79 Euro + Porto.
In collaboration with Steve Ford, the experienced writer team of Paul and Bente Romlund Withers has now submitted a catalog of these coinages which replaces the 1984 catalog written by Duncan Elias. In their work, they list 32 more coin types than Elias. They have discovered hundreds of variants and, of course, corrected several errors.
The major strength of this book lies in the excellent illustrations. It is clear to see that this is not the first catalog these authors are publishing. The numbering system is well-conceived. The illustrations, consisting of drawings and very good photos, make it easier to identify the coins. The enlargements at reasonable places are an enormous help in detecting the tiny differences between the types. Detailed numismatic comments put the coins in their context. It is a great pleasure browsing through this catalog. It is immediately recognizable how much experience is behind this book that is primarily intended to serve as a working tool. This is witnessed not least by the outstanding concordances which spare the writer of a catalog a search in other catalogs.
Chronologically, the work ranges from Henry II, husband of Eleanor, to Henry VI, loser of the Hundred Years’ War. It not only deals with the féodales – as the French term subsumes the coinages issued for territories as Aquitaine, Bergerac, Calais, Issoudun, Ponthieu, and Poitou – but also the royal issues of Henry V and Henry VI.
Instead of values, rarities are given. On the other hand, the reader can enjoy an impressive introduction with a description of the technical vocabulary, where also the advanced user may learn something new.
This new catalog, therefore, is a highly recommended book that will soon become the standard reference for Anglo-Gallic coinage. And this is precisely what this elaborate, thoroughly prepared work has deserved.