Tucked away in the Heritage Auctions’ catalog of the Ottoman and Islamic collection of Dr. Hans Wilski was a sublime Dutch East Indies rarity: a 26.67 g, 39 mm 7 shahis trade lion daalder dated 1634. This coin is unlisted in all standard references.
It was struck by the Dutch explicitly to facilitate trade with Safavid Persia that had begun under the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629). The usual provincial name on the reverse has been replaced by the word ORIENT with the denomination shown as “7 shahi” at 6 o’clock on the obverse.
The Ottoman monetary historian, Sevket Parmuk, has observed that during the 17th century numerous European trade coins were minted with legends that defined where they were intended to circulate. He wryly adds that such pieces were struck with ever-decreasing silver contents to generate ever-increasing profits in Levantine and Middle Eastern trade.
A similar piece was sold in 2010 by Ponterio & Associates for $5,500. It came dated 1610 but was denominated as 6 shahis.
The Heritage cataloger regarded the present piece as possibly unique. Graded NGC XF40, it had no problem in realizing a healthy $9,000 in Heritage’s September-October sale.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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