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Sudanese Coinage of the Mahdists


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The clouds are thickening today and there an actual chance of a few drops falling this afternoon which will put a dent in the drought even if it is below the microscopic level.  So what better occasion than to start a thread on Sudanese coinage.

My collecting interest in the past with Sudan was very narrow, that being Mahdist coinage, dating from 1885 to 1899.  These crude coins were produced in varying states of debasement at the mint in Omdurman, near Khartoum by the Mahdi, who died suddenly in June 1885, and his successor, Abdullah Ibn-Mohammed Al-Khalifa, known as "The Khalifa". 


During these tumultuous years the British waged campaigns to remove the Mahdists from power in the Lower Nile  following the fall of Khartoum and the death of General "China" Gordon following the siege from February 1884 to January 26, 1885.  These campaigns culminated in the Battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898, in which the Mahdists incurred the loss of 52.000 men. The Khalifa, and some followers fled south, going into hiding.  He was captured and killed by the British on November 25, 1899, at Umm Diwaikarat in Kordofan, bringing to a close the uprising.

The coinage of Abdullah Ibn-Mohammed Al-Khalifa has been readily available over the decades that I was collecting coins from this period.  There are numerous varieties and subtypes, making for interesting acquisitions.  Over recent years some coins, especially rare varieties or especially high grade examples have commanded healthy prices. 

Here are two examples of the numerous Mahdist coins that I own:

Sudan, Abdullah Ibn-Mohammed Al-Khalifa, 20 piastres, AH 1310, 1892/3, year 8, Omdurman mint, silver.

KM 15

24.2 grams

Some of the coinage was silver washed.  However, I think this coin, typically crude as it is, was actually made of silver, of an undetermined fineness.  It is quite heavy for a 20 piastres, which lends some credence, but then again it might be a thickly plated coin, but I doubt that.



Sudan, Abdullah Ibn-Mohammed Al-Khalifa, BI 20 piastres AH 1312, 1894/5, year 12,  Omdurman mint.  Rare grade

KM 32.1

18.60 grams

The 20 piastres of AH 1312, year 12, are the most common coins of this series, in my view.  The do crop up quite often, and as a type coin, would serve as an affordable example.  The coin below clearly shows its debased nature, but it is also a very high grade example for this crude type.  The debasement is at such a high level as to cause the metal to split upon striking, probably assisted by under heating of the flan prior to the strike.



Let's see your Sudanese coinage!




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