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I want to learn more about Islamic coins of the classic caliphates


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Arab-Byzantine coinage, while quite interesting, is really a topic by itself.  I would like to learn more about coinage, especially the gold and silver of the classic caliphates; the Umuyyad and Abbasid, respectively; the caligraphy coins.  Islamic gold used to be dirt cheap, relatively speaking, back in the 1990's, but that window has passed.  I'd eventually like a common dinar. What are the best search terms to find common Umuyyad/Abbasid silver?

I never collected them because for a very long time, I'd only collect coins with a portrait, mostly of a ruler, but it could be of a person or animal.

Now, if they could only have started out with coins like the 1240's Seljuks; the cool lion and sun type. Those are awesome!

Which rulers would be best to look for to find a common, but high grade dihrem?

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The best introductory books might be A Handbook of Islamic Coins by Michael Broome, Islamic Coins and How to Read Them by Richard Plant, and Steve Album's Checklist of Islamic Coins. The current (3rd) edition of the Checklist is available as a free pdf download at the author's website. I also recommend getting to know the zeno.ru website, which is considered the database of record for Islamic coins.

To search for early Islamic silver, use "Umayyad dirham" or "Abbasid dirham". Umayyad and early 'Abbasid dirhams are anonymous, attributed to specific rulers by date. Later coins often name multiple rulers and officials. The most common mints are Dimashq (Damascus), Wasit and Madinat al-Salam (Baghdad). With a little effort, you should be able to find a superb dirham of either dynasty for under $100.

Edited by DLTcoins
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Good advice from @DLTcoins already, which I heartily second.  Umayyad and early Abbasid coins are some of the easiest Arabic-language coins to read (due both to their very formulaic legends, and to the clear Kufic script style), and it's worth making the effort to independently pick out the date and mint on your dirhams.  Here's an Abbasid dirham I bought at the end of 2021:

image.jpeg.95dc2302a004d6d6af0195cde015cd2f.jpeg

and a write-up I did on that "other" website that includes full transcriptions and transliterations of all the legends:

https://www.cointalk.com/threads/an-abbasid-dirham-from-armenia.393887/

 

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@DLTcoins already pointed you to all the right books and online resources.

It shouldn't be too hard to find nice early Islamic silver for a good price. I bought most of my medieval "eastern" coins from Allen Berman, who usually holds a good inventory of all things medieval, or at auction from Tauler&Fau. The latter auction house is quite strong when it comes to coins from Al-Andalus.

 

1695838270_OrientMAUmayyadeninDamaskusHishamDirham117AH.png.34f9bf70ecbd3cc1b6ef45619ab9e043.png

Umayyad Caliphate, under Hisham, AR dirham, 735/6 AD (117 AH), Wasit mint. Obv: beginning of kalima, mint-date-formula around. Rev: Surah 112 and IX, 33. 30mm, 2.91g. Ref: Album 137.

 

386281567_OrientMAAbbasidenHarunAl-Rashiddirham171AHAl-Abbasiyah.png.10aded978e24c3bbf2cc93f2d8b1ba81.png

Abbasid Caliphate, under Harun al-Rashid, citing governor Yazid, AR dirham, 787/8 AD (171 AH), Al-Abbasiyah mint. Obv: beginning of kalima (“There is no deity except / (the one) God alone / He has no equal”), mint-date-formula around. Rev: second part of kalima (“Muhammad / is the Messenger / of God); name “Yazid” in lower field; around, Surah IX, 33 (“Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it”). 23.5mm; 2.94g. Ref: Album 219.2.

 

1300940116_OrientMAUmayyadeninSpanienAl-Hakamdirham190AHAlAndalus.png.f3ae66e05c6ba7caf7470916849636d6.png

Umayyads in Spain (Emirate of Córdoba), under al-Hakam I (Alhaquén), AR dirham, 805/6 AD (190 AH), Al-Andalus mint. Obv: beginning of kalima, mint-date-formula around. Rev: Surah 112 and IX, 33. 26.5mm, 2.56g. Miles 81c; Album 341.

 

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