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Islamic coins realize $708,941 in Spink sale

On Dec. 2 a major collection of over 1,200 Islamic coins went under the hammer at Spink London. The Islamic collection was particularly comprehensive with issues ranging from those showing early Byzantine influences to examples from the late 20th Century.

Rare Umayyad Arab-Byzantine gold semissis, c.700-704, from North Africa that realized £12,600 [$19,705]. The obverse shows a double bust of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine. The reverse legend translates as, ‘There is no God except God [Allah], He is alone with no partner’. Image courtesy Spink UK.

Rare Umayyad Arab-Byzantine gold semissis, c.700-704, from North Africa that realized £12,600 [$19,705]. The obverse shows a double bust of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine. The reverse legend translates as, ‘There is no God except God [Allah], He is alone with no partner’. Image courtesy Spink UK.

The tone of the sale was set with Lot 1, a rare Umayyad Arab-Byzantine gold semissis, c.700-704, from North Africa. In EF condition it quickly romped to £12,600 [$19,705].

It was, however, soon eclipsed by a Umayyad gold dinar struck in Ifriqiya, AH 101 (719 CE), that also came in EF. It had little difficulty in making £14,400 [$22,464] with a similar dinar of AH 102 in the name of Yazid II fetching £10,800 [$16,848]. Both are among the first Islamic coins to have their designs rendered entirely in calligraphy and are inscribed with the Kalima of Islamic faith that may be translated as, “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

At the other end of the time scale the European influence on Islamic coin design was shown by a pair of 19th century gold 500 qirsh (5 pounds) from Ottoman Egypt struck in the name of Abd al-Aziz, KM 265). One dated AH 1277/5 took £15,600 [$24,336] in EF. A second dated AH1277/8 made £10,800 [$16,848] in aEF. Mintages were just 56 of the first coin and 200 of the second.

The rare Umayyad gold dinar of Caliph Abd al-Malik dated AH101 that fetched £14,400 [$22,464], one of the first Islamic coins to have a design made entirely from calligraphy. Image courtesy Spink UK.

The rare Umayyad gold dinar of Caliph Abd al-Malik dated AH101 that fetched £14,400 [$22,464], one of the first Islamic coins to have a design made entirely from calligraphy. Image courtesy Spink UK.

From elsewhere in the Muslim world a delightful Afghan first reign Mahmud Shah Durrani double-mohur, dated AH 1217 [1802 CE], KM 246, had no problems in realizing £9,600 [$14,976] given its gEF condition. While an extremely rare Mughal Gemini zodiacal rupee of Jahangir (1569-1627) struck at Kashmir, KM 150.8, took £16,800 [$$26,208] in aF.

Full catalog details and prices realized can be viewed at or downloaded from the Spink website: https://www.spink.com/. A 20 percent buyers’ premium has been added to the prices cited.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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