Silver Penny of Olof Tribute-King of Sweden, 990s CE, minted in Sweden in imitation of the coinage of Ethelred II of England
Ancient Scandinavia, though aware of coinage from areas as far distant as Sassanian Persia, was slow to adopt the use of coinage itself, preferring to use un-struck silver bullion or coins of other countries as it’s currency. Viking raids on England in the 980s encouraged the silver-rich English to bribe King Olof to stop the attacks, which flooded modern Sweden with large numbers of coins. This encouraged the Scandinavian kings to begin to strike their own coins, modeled on those of the English. The coins coincided with the gradual solidification of separate kingdoms in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, so we see the names of the local rulers on the coins
The portrait may appear crude but is actually a fair rendering in comparison with other contemporary coinages, it is, however, an imitation of Ethelred’s portrait, rather than a representation of Olof. The lettering at this time was done through the use of triangular punches, which explains its strange, blocky character. The reverse shows the cross, indicating the spread of Christianity which was slowly coming to Scandinavia at this time.