Morton & Eden To Sell Coins From The Dawn Of Islam On April 22 specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden will sell three Islamic coins, struck only a few decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. They are estimated together at around £350,000
News-Antique.com - Apr 05,2013 - Specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden will sell three of the earliest and rarest Islamic gold coins in a sale of Important Coins of the Islamic World on Monday April 22. Struck only a few decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the coins tell the story of how the early Muslims created one of the largest and most influential empires the world has ever seen. Together, they are expected to sell for more than £350,000.
Two of the three coins look like Byzantine solidi and bear the portraits of Christian Byzantine emperors who ruled in the early decades of the 7th century AD. However, closer inspection reveals subtle differences from the thousands of regular solidi which survive.
In the present examples, all Christian symbols have been discreetly but thoroughly removed. In fact, these are Islamic coins, struck from subtly modified dies in the provinces which the Muslims had conquered from the Byzantines.
Stephen Lloyd of Morton and Eden said: "In the first few decades of Islam, the Muslims conquered huge areas of the Near and Middle East in only a few decades. In places like Egypt, Syria and Jordan, people had been using Byzantine gold solidi for centuries, and there were still plenty in circulation for years after the Muslim conquests.
"But this stock of Byzantine coins could not last forever and the Muslims eventually had to strike more gold to replace them. So, the Muslims simply 'de-Christianised' Byzantine coins: large crosses lost the top limb to become a 'T'-shape; smaller crosses on the emperors' crowns were removed completely and the chi-rho monogram made up from the first letters of 'Christ' was subtly changed into a letter 'P'. The new coins were much more acceptable to Islam, but were still similar enough to standard Byzantine coins that they could circulate alongside them.
"Scholars still debate exactly when these modified coins were produced. They are not dated, but there are good reasons for thinking that they were struck somewhere between 60-72h - it seems very unlikely that they could be later. So they are definitely among the very first gold coins the Muslims ever made."
The two examples in the sale, one copying coins of the Byzantine emperor Focas (602-610AD) the other Heraclius (610-641AD), are estimated at £50,000-80,000 and £40,000-60,000 respectively
The extreme rarity of these fascinating transitional coins suggests that they were only ever issued in small quantities, possibly by local governors and commanders. Most were melted in the recall of all pre-Reform gold when the first truly Islamic dinars were struck in 77h, an example of which, pictured, is estimated at £280,000-320,000 in the sale.
Generally considered to be the first purely Islamic gold coin ever produced, the famous 77h dinar coin reflects the growing Islamic reluctance to show images of living things, unlike the two earlier pieces which still have portraits of emperors and legends in Latin.
Instead, there are four short inscriptions written in Arabic: three quotations from the Holy Qur'an and a fourth giving