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Selected Highlights of the Islamic sale

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Umayyad dinar, 77 H, without mint name, time of ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan.

In the year 77 of the Hijra the Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik introduced a fully Islamic gold coin carrying legends found in the Holy Qur’an. This is the most sought-after Islamic coin, whose legends set the pattern for centuries to come.

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Umayyad dinar, struck in the first year of Hisham bin ‘Abd al-Malik and the Last of al-Walid II bin Yazid, at Ma’dan Amir al-Mu’minin bi’l-Hijaz (Mine of the Prince of the Believers in Hijaz) in 105 H.

This extremely rare dinar is the earliest gold coin which can be said with certainty to have come from the Arabian Peninsula.

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The Extraordinary ‘Magnus Princeps’ Bronze Portrait Medal of Sultan Mehmed II.

Made shortly after Mehmed II’s conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and attributed to the medallist and sculptor Pietro da Milano, this masterful uniface portrait from the High Renaissance is remarkable in showing the Sultan as a young man at this hugely significant time. Believed to be unique, this medal is considered the earliest surviving representation of the great Ottoman ruler.

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A dechristianised copy of a Byzantine solidus of the emperor Heraclius and his two sons struck in the reign of the Caliph ‘Abd al-Alik bin Marwan in the year 72-72 of the Hijra is the earliest Islamic gold coin to contain the Kalim, the statement of faith, bismillah la ilah illa Allah wahda Muhammad Rasul Allah (no god but God unique, Muhammad is the messenger of God.)

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Umayyad Dinar, time of Hisham bin ‘Abd al-Malik, struck in Ifriqiya in the year 122 h. By this time the legends on the gold dinars in both east and west followed the same wording and pattern, with the exception that the Umayyad mints in Ifriqiya and al-Andalus bore their mint names in the reverse marginal legend. It is possible that this coinage was struck to support the first Muslim campaign against the Byzantines in Sicily.

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Abbasid Dirhams, time of al-Mahdi bin al-Mansur, al-Yamama 165, 169 and al-Hadi bin al-Mahdi 170 h. The earliest mint place to be established in the Arabian peninsula was al-Yamama, the district around today’s Saudi Arabian capital, al-Riyadh. The first coin was dated 165 and bears the name Hajar in the reverse field. The second also struck by al-Mahdi, bears the name ‘Abd Allah bin Sa’id, and the third, the latest dated issue of 170 gives the name of the ephemeral caliph al-Hadi.

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Abbasid Dinar, al-Mu’tazz Billah, Makka 252 h. The gold for this famous dinar of the Caliph al’Mu’tazz dated 252 h came from the covering of the Makam Ibrahim in the Holy city of Makka.

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Abbasid Dinar, al-Musta’sim Billah, Madinat al-Salam 656 h. The year 656 H marks the end of Abbasid power, just as 132 h marked its beginning. In the first days of the month of Muharram Madinat al-Salam was besieged by the forces of Ilkhan Hulagu, and capitulated within a few days. At this time the city reverted to its original, popular name, Baghdad. After Musta’sim’s murder a shadow caliphate lived on under the Mamluks of Egypt. Later the office of caliph was claimed by the Ottomans after their conquest of Cairo.

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Fatamid Dinar, al-‘Aziz Billah, Makka 366 h. After al-Mu’izz conquered Egypt he went on to seize the Holy City of Makka in the Hijaz. This excessively rare dinar was struck in the name of his successor al-‘Aziz during the latter’s struggle with the Qarmatids.

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Ayyubid, al-Nasir Yusuf I (Saladin), Dinar, Dimashq 583 h. While Saldin struck an abundant gold coinage in al-Qahira (Cairo) and al-Iskandariya (Alexandria), this is the only dinar bearing his name from the Syrian mint. The date, 583 h., the year in which Saladin won the decisive victory at the Horns of Hattin outside Jerusalem, suggests that it was a special donative issue struck to reward his victorious troops.

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Anonymous Mahdi of the Sudan, Gold ‘Guinea’, ‘Misr’ 1255 h. Regnal Year 2. It is recorded that when the Mahdi seized power in the Sudan he used an Egyptian guinea bearing the tughra of the Ottoman Sultan ‘Abd al-Majid as a pattern for his gold coinage. It is clear that the coin is a reasonable copy, but that it would only fool those who had to accept it in Umdurman (Khartoum), the Mahdi’s capital.

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Sa’udi Arabia, gold pattern Guinea, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Sa’ud, Makka al-Mukarrima 1370 h. This is the pattern for the first gold coinage of Saudi Arabia. The design of the obverse is identical to the issued coinage, but the description of the denomination on the reverse is inscribed without the vowel marks. This is the only known example.