Rare and Important Islamic gold coin dating back to the 1st Century of the Hijra for auction in London

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Rare and Important Islamic gold coin dating back to the 1st Century of the Hijra for auction in London
The earliest appearance of the Shahada on a gold coin struck during the caliphate of ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan (AH 65-86; CE 685-705)

LONDON.- A very rare coin measuring just 20mm in diameter and weighing 4.27g is coming up for auction with Morton & Eden in London on 12 June 2024. It is expected to reach between £150,000 and £200,000 due to its historical importance and rarity.

During the Umayyad period of Arab expansion across former Byzantine and Persian lands, experiments were put in hand by the caliph ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan to establish a national Islamic currency.

In former Byzantine regions where the solidus was well-established as the primary gold coin in commerce, the Arabs started to experiment by initially removing any traces of Christian symbolism from the coinage but at the same time retaining the images of the Byzantine rulers.

The next stage was to eliminate all Latin inscriptions and introduce the Shahada inscribed in kufic script, emphasising the basic tenets of Islam as well as rejecting the Christian belief of the Trinity: Bismillah la illah ila Allah wahdahu Muhammad rasul Allah (In the name of God, there is no god but God. He is unique. Mohammad is the Messenger of God).

One of these extremely rare coins is to be sold at auction by Morton & Eden in London on 12 June 2024. Struck around AH 72-74 (CE 691-694), this example is in remarkably fine condition and is estimated to fetch £150,000-200,000. Ultimately the caliph established a purely epigraphic Islamic coinage in AH 77 (CE 697) and coins like this one were demonetised.

Tom Eden of Morton & Eden commented “It was very exciting to be shown this coin which had in the past been assumed to be a standard Byzantine issue. Careful examination of the edge showed that at some stage it was mounted probably in a jewellery setting and this could be a reason for its survival for coins like this were supposed to be handed in and melted following the introduction of the first purely Islamic dinars in AH 77.

Its historical and religious importance lies in the fact that it is the very first gold coin to bear the words of the Shahada in its legends in order to spread the tenets of Islam. In the last 42 years only 4 other examples have appeared for auction – a sign of its great rarity today”.

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