Umayyad. temp. Abd al-Malik (AH 65-86 / AD 685-705) gold D...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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Legendary Year 77 Dinar - The First "Islamic" Coin
Umayyad. temp. Abd al-Malik (AH 65-86 / AD 685-705) gold Dinar
AH 77 (AD 696/7) AU53 NGC, No mint (likely Damascus), A-125,
ICV-155, Kazan-1, SICA-1, Bernardi-41 (RR). 20mm. 4.24gm. la
ilah illa Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu ("There is no god but
God alone, He has no associate") in three lines in center; around
Muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi'l-huda wa din al-haqq
li-yuzhirahu 'ala al-din kullihi ("Muhammad is the messenger of
God, who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he
might make it supreme over all religions"; Qu'ran 9:33) / Allah
ahad Allah al-samad lam yalid wa lam yulad ("God is one, God is
eternal, He does not beget, nor is He begotten"; Qur'an 112:1-3) in
three lines in center; around bism Allah duriba hadha'l dinar fi
sana sab wa sab'in ("In the name of God, this dinar was struck
in the year seven and seventy"). Nearly perfectly centered on a
just slightly out-of-round flan with only slight circulation wear
and no waviness. Likely the only certified example and extremely
Easily the most significant Islamic coin and one instantly recognizable to students of Islamic history and Islamic numismatics alike, the AH 77 dinar stands as a semi-legendary issue--signaling the more concrete development of an Islamic identity and the "standard formula" for Islamic monetary practice for the next half millennium and beyond. As the early caliphate began to expand following the Prophet Muhammad's death, the new Muslim conquerors came to subsume the monetary systems of the new territories under their possession, both to expedite the collection of taxes and as the Arabs had no indigenous minting tradition of their own. These systems could roughly be divided into the Byzantine, gold-centric zone in the north and west, and the Sasanian silver-based zone in the east. Both zones continued a long-standing Late Antique numismatic tradition that placed the image of a ruler on the obverse, and a sign of the state or state religion on the reverse, making differentiating between the two faces of the coin simple.
After centuries of conflict between the Byzantines and Sasanians, the arrival of the new conquerors brought the question of assimilating the two monetary and economic zones into one empire. While the caliph Abd al-Malik had attempted this several years earlier through the pre-reform "Standing Caliph" coinage--which attempted to integrate a tri-metallic monetary system across the caliphate--the designs of those issues ultimately failed to stick, though the proposed solution to the problem maintained its validity. The early Umayyad Caliphate had further suffered from a number of crises of authority, stemming back to the Prophet's death, which had resulted in numerous back-to-back civil wars, from which the Umayyads ultimately emerged triumphant. The new designs of the AH 77 reform dinars, in effect, herald that triumph, showing a shift of focus from internal conflicts between Muslim rulers to the teleological struggle between the Islamic and Christian Byzantine empires. Unlike its forerunners, the anepigraphic dinars do away with the distinctions between obverse and reverse and overall use of imagery, instead inscribing citations from the Qur'an on both faces. The inscriptions, furthermore, quite directly marginalize the position of Muhammad--an area of contention in the early wars--recognizing his role as the putative founder of the faith, though placing a more direct emphasis on God's oneness and uniqueness. The caliph further subsumes the same roles as did the Prophet, fulfilling the attributes of distributing justice (hudu) and right belief (din), perhaps suggesting his position as the caliph's successor as God's deputy (khalifat Allah).
As such a historically significant piece, the dinar of Year 77 Hijra has become the ultimate prestige piece in the hobby, and one which continues to occupy a central niche in any serious collection of Islamic coins. This is the first example of the date we have had the privilege to offer, and is a by all means admirable example at that, appearing to have one of the most well-centered strikes of any example we have been able to locate. Sure to pique intensive collector and scholarly interest, and worthy of a premium bid.
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