we should start up an archaeological site rescue service
Again the art of reading any coin comes with experience, but then again it always helps if you have a guiding hand...
Although the following exert shown below is from Rod Blunts excellent Voided Long Cross Pennies, i have inserted more links to take you to coins, articles, and sites where it should make finding an identification of a voided long cross coin very easy….
With the single exception of an extremely rare gold coin, the long cross coinage of 1247-1279 consists entirely of silver pennies. They were struck in 0.925 fine silver with a standard weight of about 22 grains (1.43g) and a diameter of about 18mm. The obverse depicts a crowned facing bust of the king, and the reverse has a long voided cross with three pellets in each angle. Both sides are inscribed: the obverse with the king’s name and title, and the reverse, in most cases, with the name of the mint and moneyer. During the thirty-two years of their issue, certain changes were made to the design, the form of the legends and the style of the letters. By studying these changes, along with documentary records and information obtained from hoards, the sequence and dates of issue of the coins can be determined and when their classification was undertaken.
The classification we use today was established almost one hundred years ago by Laurie Asher Lawrence… A surgeon by trade, who later became an author… (1857 – 1949) – He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Numismatic Society… It is documented in a paper published in three parts in the British Numismatic Journal between 1912 and 1915. This classification has stood the test of time remarkably well, with only relatively minor refinements by later numismatists. Subsequent finds have added a few coins to Lawrence’s lists of known classes and sub-classes for certain mints, but many of these – like the extremely rare class 6 penny of London – were anticipated by him.
One of the challenges of producing a guide to the classification is that of catering for the different needs of the casual user and the more experienced numismatist. On the one hand, the risk is of including an excessive amount of detail, while on the other, it is of omitting information that the specialist will find useful. To address this issue, I have adopted a two-tier approach to the structure of the article. The Internet greatly facilitates this approach by making it possible to separate out various aspects of the coinage, while at the same time making that information instantly accessible via hyperlinks. Those wishing to determine only the main class of a coin, for example, are able to do so without being faced with detailed descriptions of the many sub-classes. Having established the main class, however, the structure of the article will allow those who wish to do so to pursue the more detailed information at a separate level.
A difficulty often experienced by newcomers is that of reading the inscriptions on the coins. This is partly because some of the letterforms used during the medieval period are unfamiliar, but also because adjacent letters are frequently joined together (“ligate”), such that they can appear to be a single unrecognisable character. To add to the difficulty, the manual minting process often results in parts the inscription being weakly impressed, or even partially off the flan. The best way to become familiar with the various letterforms is to visit the mints and moneyers section and study the inscriptions on the coins illustrated, all of which are transcribed. To assist with the process, ligate letters are underlined, and the cross ends that divide the reverse legends are indicated by the “/” sign. Basic errors, such as mistaking a horizontally barred N for a Roman H, can be avoided once it is known that only the Lombardic “h” is found on the coins. It should also be borne in mind that the letters I/J and U/V respectively did not exist separately at the time, so a single letter in each case (usually in the style of I and V) served both as vowel and consonant, much as the letter Y still does today.
It is appropriate at this point, for the benefit of newcomers, to define some of the numismatic terms used in the article. In the context of the long cross coinage, the obverse of a coin is the side that bears the facing bust of the king. The reverse is the side that carries the long voided cross. A mule is a coin struck with the obverse die of one class or sub-class, and the reverse die of a different class or sub-class. Mules are very useful for determining the order in which the coins were struck.