More Wartime Rarities from Lebanon

Along with the 1/2 Piastre, 1 Piastre, and 2 1/2 Piastres coins issued by Lebanon during World War II, there exists a 5 Piastre denomination. Very little is known about it and no public sales known from recent years. The coin is listed in Gadoury’s Monnaies et Jetons des Colonies Françaises, Schoen’s Welt Muenzkatalog, and the Standard Catalog of World Coins, among other publications.

In Gadoury’s book, it just says “very few” for quantity minted, while Schoen states “1 ex. known”. All catalogs refrain from stating a value due to the lack of available information.

This coin series has no date, but was minted 1941-1945. Also reported are a 1 Piastre coin struck in aluminum, and a 2 1/2 Piastres struck in aluminum-bronze. No other information is known at this time and anyone with further details is encouraged to share them with us.


lebanon_5p_obverse lebanon_5p_reverse


The Banknotes of Hejaz

One of the many mysterious corners of Arab numismatics is the banknotes of Hejaz and circumstances surrounding their production. These unissued notes were only “discovered” in the early 1950s after the sale of King Farouk of Egypt’s collections. Few sets reportedly survive today and most collectors don’t even seriously consider trying to locate a set that is available for sale.

A very good article on this subject was written a while back by Peter Symes, and is available at his web site here:

I strongly recommend those interested to read this article.

The Many Forms of the Iraq 100 Fils 1955

Without a doubt, the unissued Iraqi 100 Fils 1955 is one of the rarest coins in the Iraqi series. An unissued coin, with very few that actually escaped into the collector market (reportedly 1,000,000 pieces were mint but some experts “guesstimate” about 40 pieces to be in private hands today). The coin, even though dated 1955, carries the same characteristics as its 1953 counterpart. Contrastingly, the 20 and 50 Fils coins of 1955 are entirely different and carry a new design featuring two palm branches under the denomination.

As it turns out, there are also two additional varieties of this elusive coin, besides the one described above. The first of these is the proof strike of the above-mentioned coins. A difficult coin to find, with an unknown but certainly low mintage. The second, however, is something that only became known to me a few months ago when I received my copy of Mr. Ahmad Ghazi Al-Samariee’s book:

The coin appears to be a 100 Fils 1955, but with the palm branches under the denomination. I have never seen one for sale, and nor have I heard of one in private hands. Anyone with more information is encouraged to share their knowledge. Pictures are also most welcome. (July 2014 update: despite diligently trying to find more information, not a single other reference to this coin was found, including discussions with the Royal Mint. Therefore, I personally question the existence of the actual coin/pattern outside of the digital world.)

All three varieties are illustrated below.

Another Mystery from Kuwait

Another lesser known coin is the 5 Dinars of the “Emirate of Kuwait” dated 1961, of which reportedly 1,000 pieces were struck in 0.916 gold. Not very much is known about it, and no recent (if any) public sales records involving such a piece. It was probably never issued, and it is speculated that most of the mintage has been melted while a mere handful of specimens made it to private hands. In the “Guidebook and Catalogue of British Commonwealth Coins (3rd. Edition1, 1971), they report the coin’s “values” at £60 for an XF, £65 in UNC, and £80 in BU, which is odd considering the unavailability of public sales records. Any further information would be appreciated.

Kingdom of Syria Gold Coin

Arguably the rarest coin of modern Syria is the gold Dinar of the Kingdom of Syria (KM 67). The obverse features a coat of arms with the inscription دينار المملكة السورية which translates to “Dinar of the Kingdom of Syria”, with the date 1920 at the bottom. The reverse features a Tughra style inscription that is hard to read but appears to have the name of the ruler Faisal bin Al-Hussein. The Kingdom officially existed for a few months, from March 8, 1920 to July 25, 1920. Faisal’s stay in Syria was cut short when he was expelled, initially to Britain, and eventually returning to Iraq as King in 1921. The crudely struck coin weighs 6.7 grams and has a diameter of 21 mm. Reportedly, fewer than 20 specimens exist and the coin was never officially issued.

Below is a set of concept designs considered for this elusive rarity, followed by an illustration of the actual coin.

Iraqi 5 and 10 Dinars of 1990

These coins are amongst the few examples of unissued coins in the Arab world that were nevertheless widely forged.

The story behind this odd pair is interesting, yet incomplete. The Iraqi government was making an attempt to locally produce coins, after having minted their previous issues abroad (mainly by the British Royal Mint). Around the late 1980s or early in 1990, a decision was made to locally produce two high denomination circulating coins of 5 and 10 Dinars. The coins which were reportedly struck by the Iraqi company that produced military decorations and medals. The designs used are unlike previously issued types, and the overall quality is rather crude, especially when compared to previously issued coins. An unknown but small quantity of these coins made its way to the market. Both denominations are difficult to find, and some convincing forgeries exist. More information on these coins can be found on this page, which is part of my friend Waad’s informative and well-illustrated web site on Iraqi numismatics.

A Coin That Was Not Meant to Be

The denomination side of the modern Jordanian 1/4 Dinar coin features an elaborate design with a circle that encloses the fractional denomination 1/4. This coin was first designed in 1995, but minted and released into circulation in 1996 as well as 1997. Around that time, a question was raised regarding whether the inner circle and denomination were too small and difficult to read. Consequently, in 1998, a trial design was made and coin was redesigned with a larger inner circle and denomination. For unknown reasons, however, the design was never approved and the next time the 1/4 coin was minted, in 2004, it was with the same old 1996-1997 design, but now featuring King Abdullah II instead of King Hussein. The 1998 design is the last circulating coin prepared featuring the late King Hussein, and in my opinion much more attractive than the currently used design. Only two such pieces were minted.

Below are illustrations of the 1997 circulating coin, 1998 unadopted pattern, and finally the 2004 circulating coin.