February 19th, 2014

Rare Islamic Coin Offered for Auction


91h dinar from Caliph’s ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’ expected to sell for £300,000-400,000 in April 10 London sale

Morton & Eden, the specialist auctioneers of coins in London today announced the forthcoming sale of an extremely rare Islamic gold coin never previously offered for auction. It will be a highlight from their auction of Important Coins of the Islamic World, to be held in London on Thursday April 10, 2014.

The coin, a gold dinar, was issued during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I in the Hijra year 91 (equivalent to AD 710). As is normal, it displays lines of text from the Qu’ran but it is extremely unusual in bearing two additional lines which read Ma’din Amir al-Mu’minin – “Mine of the Commander of the Faithful”. This inscription is generally accepted to indicate that the coin was struck from gold from a mine belonging to the Caliph himself.

In previous auctions Morton & Eden, who are well known for their specialist sales of Important Coins of the Islamic World, have sold similar dinars with this inscription dated 89h and 92h (for £936,000 in 2012 and £648,000 in 2011 respectively). But while a handful of such dinars dated 91h are known to exist, this is the first time such an example has been offered for sale at auction. It is estimated at £300,000-400,000.

Commenting on the piece, specialist Stephen Lloyd said: “Umayyad dinars from the ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’ are among the rarest, most highly prized and intriguing of all Islamic coins. We can deduce that they were only ever struck in very small quantities because the same special obverse die, which carries the ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’ legend, was used for at least four years.

“Scholars have suggested links with mines in Saudi Arabia, some of which are still worked, and have even proposed some connection between these coins and the Hajj pilgrimage. They remain some of the most hotly-debated and historically significant of all early Islamic coins, and we are delighted to be able to offer such an exceptional piece in our April sale.”

The April 10 sale will also include a unique early Umayyad silver dirham from the unrecorded mint of Tukharistan, as well as exceptional offerings of Abbasid gold dinars and Fatimid coins from Palestinian mints.  For further details please contact Stephen Lloyd, Tom Eden or María Queralt, Morton & Eden Ltd, Nash House, St George Street, London W1S 2FQ. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7493 5344 info@mortonandeden.com.