Rare early Islamic gold dinar coin comes to auction next month

This dinah’s inscription reads ‘Ma‘din Amir al-Mu‘minin, which translates as ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’ and the legend ‘bi’l-Hijaz’ affirming that the mine was located ‘in the Hejaz’, located between the holy cities of what are Mecca and Medina. It is estimated at £1.4-1.6m and will be auctioned on October 24 at Morton & Eden.

A rare Umayyad gold dinar dated 105AH (723AD) will be offered at a Morton & Eden auction with a £1.4-1.6m estimate next month.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Laura Chesters

Similar dinars sell for a few hundred pounds. However, what makes this example so rare is its inscriptions.

One states that the dinar was made from gold mined at a location owned by the Caliph himself, one of the successors to the Prophet Muhammad. The coin also indicates the gold was mined between two holy cities in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Prior to the mine being owned by the Caliph, the previous owner had acquired the land directly from the Prophet Muhammad, adding further importance to the coin.

Morton & Eden said it is the first Islamic gold coin to name a location in Saudi Arabia and indeed the earliest from the Gulf region as a whole.

Historical document

Stephen Lloyd, Morton & Eden’s Islamic coins specialist, said: “Not only is it beautifully preserved and an astonishing rarity but it is also an important historical document… Scholars have identified the site of the mine itself as Ma’din Bani Sulaim, located north-west of the holy city of Mecca.”

Medieval Arab writers record that the Caliph bought a piece of land in this area, containing at least one gold mine, almost exactly when these coins were made. But while there is general agreement on the source of the gold, the exact location of where the coins were struck is not confirmed.

The Umayyad dynasty, which succeeded the four ‘Rightly Guided’ caliphs, controlled the entire Islamic world for almost one hundred years.

The first-ever dinar was issued in 77AH (696-7AD) by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

Only about a dozen of these coins are known, and almost all are now held in private collections or major international museums.

This is only the second example ever to be offered at public auction. In 2011 Morton & Eden sold another Umayyad gold dinar from 105AH (723AD) for £3.1m to a London dealer. It was inscribed as coming from the personal gold mine of the Caliph who led the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

The latest coin has been consigned for sale by a private collector and will be offered on October 24 at Morton & Eden’s auction in Sotheby’s London.