Norway's first bracteates
Bracteates were coins so small and thin that they were struck on one side only.
Under Magnus Berrføtt (Bareleg) the weight of the penny was reduced to 0.45 grams. Early in the 1100s coins were minted weighing only half that of the pennies issued by Magnus Berrføtt (approximately 0.2 grams). The coins were so thin that the design on the reverse was clearly visible on the obverse and vice versa. The conclusion was soon reached that it was better to strike the coin on one side only.
The oldest Norwegian bracteates carry inscriptions. The inscription
OLAVI REX must mean that the coin was issued by Olav
Magnusson, brother and joint king with the more famous brethren kings
Øystein (1103-1123) and Sigurd Jorsalfare (1103-1130). Since Olav
died in 1115 his bracteates must have been minted before this year.
Above: Bracteates from Sverre Sigurdsson (1177-1202)