The Sunrise Collection of Islamic Coins
In the Eighth Century AD, while Western Europe was mired in the
Dark Ages, Islamic Civilization stormed out of the Arabian
Peninsula and swept over the lands formerly held by the Roman and
Persian Empires. Millions of new adherents and subjects were
introduced to a vibrant culture rooted in veneration of the Prophet
Mohammed and the religion he founded. Islamic art, science, and
literature brought a brilliant light to a formerly darkened world.
Soon after the establishment of the vast medieval Islamic Empire,
its dynastic rulers began striking coins that hewed closely to the
Koranic and Biblical ban on "graven images", while finding their
own unique and beautiful blend of calligraphic art, Islamic
religion, and floral aesthetic design.
Painstakingly assembled over a 40 year period, the Sunrise
Collection, to be featured in our upcoming 2013
January 6-7 Ancient & World Coin Signature Auction
of the most comprehensive private collections ever put together
tracing the magnificent history of Islam as a world power, with a
special focus on two of its most important states — Persia and
Mughal India. Comprising nearly 800 coins in gold, silver, and
bronze, the Sunrise Collection spans nearly a millennium and a
half, from within a few decades after the Hijra (AD 621/AH1),
through the end of the Qajar Dynasty (AD 1794-1925/AH 1174-1305).
Also included are early Arab-Sassanian coins, important Arabic
coins of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties (AD 661-1258/AH 41-638),
the Seljuq and Ottoman Empires (AD 1071-1923/AH 451-1303), and of
neighboring Nepal and Tibet. With an overriding emphasis on quality
and rarity, the Sunrise Collection bears testimony to the
collector's dedication, outstanding eye, knowledge of history, and
love of his heritage.
"The collector began assembling a remarkable collection of Islamic
Coins nearly forty years ago, always seeking the finest quality and
the greatest rarity," said Stephen Album, author of Checklist of
and prime cataloger for the Sunrise Collection.
"As his knowledge and financial position improved, he constantly
searched not just for the rarest coins, but the artistically most
magnificent. The collector understood that even moderately rare
coins of outstanding quality were far more important than mediocre
"The consignor's own Iranian background allowed him to recognize
the finest Iranian coins," continued Album, "an ability that spread
to Mughal and later Indian coins, whose style was derived from
Iranian traditions, and were inscribed in the Persian language.
Most of the specimens are of such awesome quality that comparable
pieces may never again become available. I have witnessed the
collector's ability to sort through a group of many hundreds of
coins and select the one or two extraordinary pieces that are the
fabulous gems, unlikely ever to be found again. This is not just a
large collection — it is a work of art!"
Just a few of the highlights of the Sunrise Collection are:
Sulayman I, 1078-1105 / 1668-1694, gold 16 ashrafis.
Isfahan AH 1096, A-M2657, Choice Very Fine
Fath 'Ali Shah, AH 1212-1250 / AD 1797-1834, gold 5 toman.
Tabriz AH 1226, type U, A T2683. Nearly Mint State)
Jahangir, AH 1015-1037 / AD 1605-1628, gold portrait mohur.
Without mint name, AH 1020 year 6 (AD 1611). Choice Extremely
Jahangir, AH 1014-1037 / AD 1605-1627, gold zodiac mohur.
Pisces, Agra AH 1028 year 14. BMC India 358. Extremely Fine
Nasir al-Din Shah, AH 1264-1313 / AD 1848-1896, gold 10 toman
medallion issue. Without mint name. AH 1209 (for 1290),
Good Extremely Fine
Nasir al-Din Shah, AH 1264-1313 / AD 1848-1896, silver 5
qiran. Dar al Saltana Tehran AH 1267, A-2938G. Choice Mint
Tahmasp II, AD 1135-1145 / AH 1722-1732, silver 20 shahi.
Tabriz AH 1135, A A2689. Choice Mint State
Husayn I, AH 1105-1135 / AD 1694-1722, silver 10 shahi.
Isfahan AH 1128, "9" recut over "8", Choice Extremely Fine
al-Mutawakkil, AH 232-247 / AD 847-861, gold double dinar for
presentation. Surra man Ra'a 245, A T229, Choice Extremely
Jahangir, AH 1015-1037 / AD 1605-1628, gold nazarana sawai
mohur. Agra AH 1018 year 5. Choice Mint State
This collection and the rest of the 2013 January 6-7 Ancient
& World Coin Signature Auction will open for bidding soon at
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Numismatics on the Screen
Another in a series of personal essays by Bob Korver
Bones, Season 1: "The Man in the Fallout Shelter"
There are a couple of things that I must make clear at the very
beginning; Marley was dead… as dead as a door-nail. No, wait,
that's a completely different Christmas story… anyway, back to
Bones, and the numismatic foundation of this episode from the first
There are four main reasons I recommend this Holiday episode,
which aired December 13, 2005:
1) I love Christmas, and I always shed tears watching this
episode. I won't apologize for this — anyone who has been forced by
circumstance to spend the Holidays away from their loved ones will
2) Having worked on multiple occasions at the Smithsonian — er,
I mean the "Jeffersonian" — I know firsthand what a terrifically
cool place it is, at any season. A much better place to get locked
in, as opposed to, say, O'Hare Terminal Two. And I mean that very
specifically, having actually been locked in the Smithsonian's
vaults — but that's still another story for a different time.
3) I read most of Kathy Reichs' series on Forensic Anthropology
in another lifetime, when I had spare time for such dark
4) It is ultimately determined that "Careful Lionel" was
murdered by a fence to steal his coin collection, and not by a coin
dealer. Now there's something to celebrate during this festive
season. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful
can come of the story I am going to relate.
The storyline — complicated, but essential for understanding
my trifling complaints:
On Christmas Eve-Eve 2005, FBI Agent Seeley Booth brings the
Jeffersonian staff the remains of an apparent suicide, found in a
1950s bomb shelter. The Caucasian body resists immediate
identification — but several personal effects are also recovered.
Unfortunately for the Jeffersonian staff, Jack Hodgins is thinking
more about getting back to the Holiday party upstairs than about
biologics protocols, and he triggers a (possibly fatal)
contamination lock-down during the autopsy — mainly because he
chose the wrong moment to cherish a sip of eggnog. Who among us
hasn't had that happen??? This is major Grinchdom, as the entire
team (Bones, Booth, Angela, Zack, Hodgins, and Dr. Goodman) must
remain in isolation through Christmas, but good news for the
story-teller: this allows them to further investigate both the case
and their Holiday beliefs.
But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my
unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for.
You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that "Careful
Lionel" was as dead as a door-nail. Several love letters are found
in his clothing, as well as two unredeemed airline-tickets to
Paris. His effects also include a wedding band, a small empty white
sleeve (ca. 1" x 1", that, while perplexing to the Jeffersonian
staff, would be immediate obvious to any old-time collector!), and
some spare change. Nick-named courtesy of his well-worn but
'Carefully' maintained bespoke clothing (made in the late 1950s),
through his clothier's old records Booth identifies the murder
victim as Lionel Little. His tailor's book also noted that he was
scheduled for a fitting for a wedding shirt on November 8th, 1958
but that he never arrived. The bomb shelter belonged to a deceased
fence named Gil Atkins, whom they suspect killed Lionel for his
$8,000 coin collection (which they note is worth approximately
$64,000 today — today being 2005). Atkins was caught selling some
of the coins to unsuspecting coin dealers in several states.
Numismatically, the storyline isn't too far off, except for one
near-fatal bit of production carelessness — considering that Lionel
was murdered on 'November 8th, 1958' or "in 1959", depending upon
your preference in the contradictory script-writing. But that's
clearly not the worst of it. In a quick close-up of Lionel's
inventory, we see some very rare coins indeed for 1958/59:
Click to enlarge.
Let's be fair and call it six major mistakes plus a dozen or so
minor ones — unless you prefer that the best of the FBI and the
Jeffersonian totally missed that Careful Lionel must have been a
time traveler before his demise in the late 1950s (although a
Tardis key was not found among his effects). Still, it goes to show
just how popular the State Quarters program has been in raising the
awareness of coin collecting...
The sender of Lionel's love letters, 'signed' with a sketch of a
leaf, is identified as a woman named Ivy Gillespie, believed to be
African-American. Here the storyline becomes rather PC, but I don't
care (this time) — it's well-done. Their research suggests that Ivy
was impregnated by 'Not-So-Careful Lionel' in Oklahoma during a
time when such interracial relationships were illegal. They also
conclude that "Careful Lionel" was killed by the snitch Atkins to
steal the valuable coin collection that Lionel was selling to fund
their new life in Paris, but that Atkins overlooked the cent and
clueful-coin-cozy in Lionel's pocket.
This Season One show introduces us to the problems that Bones
has with the Christmas holiday season, due to the painful memories
of her parents' disappearance, and her uncertainty over their fate.
She is convinced to track down Ivy to convey the news that Lionel
had not deserted her, but had been murdered. Ivy visits Bones at
the Jeffersonian on Christmas Day, after the Isolation shields have
been lifted, accompanied by her granddaughter. Ivy is overwhelmed
with the news that Lionel had indeed tried to create a new life for
them. Rather unusual Christmas cheer, but it works.
Bones did a decent job explaining the significance of the 1943
bronze cent, although some of the particulars might disturb a
careful student. Viewers were informed that:
1) "...over a billion pennies were minted in 1943" (true if you
include all three mints — oh, and this being Christmas, forgive her
for using "pennies" — it was good enough for Scrooge, after
2) "Only about twelve of them exist today" (which number is
closer to 25 if you include all three mints, and wrong for any one
3) The coin is worth "over $100,000" in 2005 (which is problematic
given our lack of grading information — however, it looks at least
AU in its brief cameo, although it was more circulated by the time
Bones finished handling it! Oh, and "Careful Lionel" treated his
rarity better than the '43
Bronze Heritage sold for $32,000 in 1999
which had suffered the
ignominy of being tested for authenticity by its owner dripping
battery acid on it to search for a steel core under copper plating,
and then mesmerized by the 'failure' of his obverse test, proceeded
to likewise test the reverse with even more acid. This thought
alone should also produce some Holiday tears; you might prefer to
examine the two examples Heritage sold in 2010 for more than
4) The disappointing news that Lionel's granddaughter cannot
attend medical school due to finances is theoretically solved when
Bones produces the 1943 bronze cent for her. This is a touching
moment, but clearly Bones is unaware of rising tuition costs for a
medical degree. Then again, what were those other three cents in
5) Finally, there is a suggestion that "Careful Lionel's" hobby
was the cause of high levels of lead and nickel in his bones. In
light of the season, I have decided to simply ignore this bit of
So, all in all, it was a great Christmas in D.C. Temperance was
better than her word. She was as good a woman, as the good old city
knew, or any other good old museum, city, town, or borough, in the
good old world. And while we might wish every scriptwriter to be
better educated in numismatics, maybe, just maybe, it should be
satisfactory that we know how to keep Christmas well. May that be
truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God
Bless Us, Every One!
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This Week's Top Ten
The ten highest priced coins to sell in Heritage Internet
auctions in 2012 (so far):
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS66 NGC. Sold for $60,375.
1915-S $10 MS65 PCGS. Sold for $43,000.
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS65 PCGS. Sold for
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS65 NGC. Sold for
1927-S $20 MS63 NGC. Sold for $37,950.
1884 $3 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. Sold for $33,499.99.
1914-D $2 1/2 MS65 PCGS Secure. Sold for $30,550.
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS63 PCGS. CAC. Sold for
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS64 PCGS. Sold for
1850-O $1 MS64 NGC. Sold for $24,675.
Do you have a suggestion for a future top ten list? Send
it to us!
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