Earliest Saudi gold dinar shines at $1m in UK auction

The earliest known gold dinar to name a locality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sold as part of a UK auction of Islamic coins.

Earliest Umayyad gold Dinar Islamic
The coin may have been struck to coincide with the caliph's own pilgrimage

The coin, which was described by auction house Baldwin's as "arguably the most important coin ever struck in the Arabian Peninsula", sold for £640,000 ($1m) to lead the sale. It is considered to have been struck from gold mined at the Ma'Dan Amir al-Mu'mini bi'l Hijaz - the Mine of the Commander of the Faithful in the Hijaz.

Leading Islamic numismatist Dr George C Miles identifies the mint with Ma'dan Bani Sulaim, a town which lies on the pilgrimage route between Baghdad and Makka, southeast of Madina.

It is believed that the Umayyad Caliph Umar bin Abd al-Aziz bought the land on which the mine was situated from Bilal bi al-Harith, who had himself received it from the Prophet Muhammad. It is "virtually certain" that this land is now Mahd al-Dhahab, the site worked by the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate today.

The coin remains in stunning condition given its age, having been struck circa AD723. In uncirculated state, it was offered on December 6 in London. The coin once held the world record for any Islamic coin, after selling for £3.7m ($6m) in London in 2011.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has an outstanding selection of rare coins for sale, including a rare Italian gold double ducat, which is one of only five examples known to exist.


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