Vinland (Leif Eiricsson)
The VINLAND coinage of Leif Eiricsson: Here is a coin that might-have-been! As we all know from our history books, the Greenlander Leif Ericsson, son of Eric the Red led a colonizing expedition in AD 1000, sailing west from Iceland and Greenland and establishing a colony he called "Vinland" on what is now thought to be the coast of modern-day Newfoundland or New Brunswick. Just before his departure, Leif was forced to convert from paganism to Christianity on pain of death by Norwegian King Olav Trygvasson. The colony was ill-fated however, with troublesome weather and problems with the natives, and the starving colonists abandoned it after just a few of years, spelling the end of European influence in the new world for another half millenium.

X#5 Penny 2.4g .900Ag Ruler: Leif Eiricsson. Mintage: 500 pieces.
The obverse shows Leif in a Viking helm (without horns!) holding a scepter, and with the inscription LEIF EIRICSSON (the old spelling). The reverse is a classic cross of double-lines (guides to cutting the coin into quarters) with the text VINLANDMONETA (trans: Vinland Money) Note that the text terminator on the inscriptions is a "Hammer of Thor". There are two particularly interesting things about the design of this coin. The traditional text terminator for coins of a Christian country would be a cross, and the traditional object held by a royal subject would be an axe. The fact that Leif chose the scepter and hammer would indicate that he planned rebellion against King Olav! In our romanticized version of the story... Leif was simply livid with King Olafur Tryggvason about the forced religious conversion... and had a hoard of coins secretly made up, planning to set up his own independent pagan kingdom far away. But the colony had troubles and never grew to the point where money was needed. Then when disaster struck and they had to abandon it, (and lacking resources to remelt them)... Leif wisely chose to bury the entire hoard rather than bring back hard evidence of his own rebellious intent... which brings us to recent times. A digger on an obscure archaeological expedition to New Brunswick in 1923 came across the hoard under a rune-marked stone in a rotting leather bag and was overcome with greed from the splendor of the find, secretly keeping them to himself. Scared of the publicity and ashamed of himself for what he had done, he kept the hoard intact and never sold or showed any of them. After his death his heirs, retired themselves and living now in Arkansas, contacted me discreetly and I was able to purchase the entire never-used hoard no-questions asked. This silver penny weighs about 2.5 grams of 90% silver, is about 19mm in diameter, and is done in the classic style of 10th century Viking coinage. The condition of the is EF+ (extremely fine plus) with a delicate toning and bright highlights. This coin is also available in copper 3.10g (Mintage: 1000). These pieces can also be fitted as pendants, tie-tacks, or clothing buttons.
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