Retrograde Dates and Denominations

As stated in this blog in the past (see here and here), there is a number of Arab coins that have errors as part of the die used to create the coin. This is due to an error in design or engraving. A particularly fascinating form is when part of the legend appears in retrograde.

The coins of Muscat & Oman, which were also briefly discussed in this blog, contain a few varieties of retrograde Hijra dates. Specifically, some of the many varieties of the 1/4 Anna coin dated AH1315, have the date in retrograde, with one variety where the characters are also in reverse order. Both varieties are illustrated below.

Retrograde date with characters in correct order:
muscat_oman_part_retro

Retrograde date with characters in reverse order:
muscat_oman_full_retro

Another example that is worthy of mentioning is the Egypt 5 Piastres of AH 1277, regnal year 4. In this case, the character “4” designating the regnal year is the one that was retrograde (actually, upside down but with a retrograde effect). Both examples of a normal and a retrograde 4 are illustrated below.

Example of normal 4:
egypt_normal

Example of retrograde 4:
egypt_retro

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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:

muscat_oman

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:

numbers

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

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).

countermark

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.