Iraq Kingdom 20 Fils of 1932

One of the key coins in the Iraq Kingdom series is the 20 Fils of 1933, which is also dated 1252 Hijra. The correct date is 1352, but a small quantity was made with error dies and is now highly sought after. As scarce as it is, this coin is even rarer when collectors factor in grade, as this coin is very seldom available in anything better than VF.

Below is an example of a the 20 Fils, one with the correct Hijra date and the other with the error variety:

Img0453 Img0455

The NGC census shows 6 examples graded with the error date. The breakdown is as follows:

  • F – 2 examples;
  • VF – 2 examples;
  • AU53 – 1 example; and
  • AU58 – 1 example, which is currently in our collection.

Incidentally, we handled most if not all of the above examples. PCGS lists none in their population report.


Early Coins of Muscat & Oman

Recently, I spent some time studying the early coins of Muscat and Oman. At first glance, they seem to be rather confusing, and they can be, so I decided to put together this brief overview to simplify a possibly daunting and intimidating group of coins.

The first coins were issued in 1311 Hijra (~ 1891 A.D.) under the reign of Faisal bin Turki. The denominations were 1/12 Anna, also known as Ghazi, and 1/4 Anna, also known as Paisa. The initial issue of 1311 was only minted that year and replaced by a second and entirely different issue between 1312 and 1318. The first issue is illustrated below:

01_a 01_b

02_a 02_b

The second issue brought with it a very wide variety of designs and fonts and styles, all derived from the same basic features. The issue is known for being crude and with many minor and some major varieties, accounting for the large range of catalog numbers associated with this issue in the Standard Catalog of World Coins. In order to simplify which coins (referenced by KM #) exist for which date, see the chart below:


In the rightmost column:

  1. KM# 5 is 1312 over 1311
  2. KM# 7 is 1313 over 1311
  3. var is an unlisted variety with a retrograde 3
  4. KM# 16 is 1318 over 1315

Reading the dates on these coins can be a challenge if one’s first language is not Arabic. In fact, some of the numbers, particularly the 4 and the 6, are different from today’s commonly used Arabic. A very useful site for reading and converting dates of many calendars is the Creounity Time Machine which I highly recommend you bookmark and use as a  handy reference tool. I borrowed and slightly adapted a chart from their site which can be used to read the Arabic numerals on these coins:


Additionally, an example of each date is illustrated and identified below which could be used as a cheat sheet.

After Faisal’s death, Taymoor bin Faisal did not mint any new coins. Instead, he countermarked existing coinage with “S T”, which likely stands for Sultan Taymoor (KM # 19.1 and 19.2). An example of this is illustrated below. Said bin Taymoor followed suit and countermarked existing coinage with “S S”, which likely stands for Sultan Said. The countermark exists in circlar and square shapes (KM # 20.1, 20.2, 21.1 and 21.2).


In 1359 Hijra (around 1939 A.D.), regular coinage was finally struck for Muscat and Oman, but this is perhaps the subject of another post.

The Elusive Hejaz 1/2 Qirsh AH 1334 Regnal Year 8

The Hejaz 1/2 Qirsh Regnal AH 1334, Regnal Year 8 (KM-26) is an exceptionally rare coin that is missing in most collections. A contributing factor to this is the fact that these coins were short-lived, and most known specimens were overstruck to produce the transitional coinage of what became today’s Saudi Arabia (then the Kingdom of Hejaz and Sultanate of Nejd) 1/4 Qirsh of AH 1343 (KM-1).  The latter coin is also a scarce one as it was transitional and eventually replaced by the 1/4 Qirsh of AH 1344 (KM-4) from the regular series. The early Saudi coins are an interesting series to collect in general with many different types.

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.

Eid Mubarak

خالص التهاني وأطيب الأمنيات بحلول عيد الأضحى المبارك. أعاده الله عليكم وعلينا بالخير واليمن والبركات

To those celebrating Eid Al-Adha, please accept my wishes for a happy and peaceful Eid, with many happy returns. I am not aware of any Arab coins or banknotes that directly commemorate Eid Al-Adha, but I am aware of a 1000 Rial coin issued by Iran in commemoration of this occasion. The coin was issued in 2010 and is easy to obtain. If anybody is aware of any coins or banknotes from the Arab world that commemorate this, please do share!

Qatar & Dubai Banknotes Sell for Record Price

Last Wednesday, October 17, 2012, a presentation album with a complete set of Qatar and Dubai banknotes sold at a Bonhams auction for a record £180,000 (approximately $290,000), eclipsing the original estimate of £25,000 (approximately $80,000). The set consists of a 1 Riyal, 5 Riyals, 10 Riyals, 25 Riyals, 50 Riyals, and 100 Riyals, all bearing the same serial number 000009, all of which are in uncirculated condition.

The notes are quite difficult to find in uncirculated condition, but the 25 and 50 Riyals are difficult even in low grades. This is because very few of the notes were not redeemed after demonetization. According to The History of the Banknotes of the Qatar and Dubai Currency Board, only 1,565 of the 25 Riyal banknote were still outstanding as of 1997. Compared to 550,038 1 Riyal banknotes outstanding, one quickly sees the relative scarcity.

Qatar & Dubai notes are tough to find, but in my opinion these peak prices are not justified as even 1,565 potential complete sets in the collector market is a substantial number compared to some true Arab rarities such as Palestine 50 and 100 Pound notes, among others, of which only a handful of notes survive today. Of course, a premium should be added for the grade and the fact that all notes come in a presentation album and carry the same single-digit first-prefix serial number, but the winning bid is still over-the-top.

PMG 2012 Registry Awards

I was away on an extended vacation for the past 3 weeks. Upon returning, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that PMG has chosen my humble collection of Iraqi Currency Board banknotes to win their “Best World Set” award. The announcement was posted on October 5, 2012 here but I only saw it today since I was on the road. In my opinion, the Ghazi 5 and 10 Dinar pieces are the most impressive pieces though the judging panel found the 1 Dinar of Faisal I to be more appealing.

At any rate, I am very glad and thankful to PMG for this nice honor. For those interested in seeing the set, which is still a work in progress, you can click here. I am also attaching a couple of images directly to this blog for everyone’s enjoyment.