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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Warden Family Collection of Turkoman Figural Bronzes

CNG 97, Lot: 824. Estimate $200.
Sold for $650. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ISLAMIC, Ayyubids. Egypt. al-Nasir I Salah al-Din Yusuf (Saladin). AH 564-589 / AD 1169-1193. Æ Dirhem (30mm, 13.32 g, 3h). Unlisted (Mayyafariqin[?]) mint. Dated AH 586 (AD 1215/6). Male enthroned facing, holding globus; name and titles of al-Nasir I Salah al-Din Yusuf (Saladin) in outer margin / Name and titles of Abbasid caliph in three lines; partial mint formula and AH in outer margins. Whelan Type III, 258-60; Balog, Ayyubids 182; Album 791.4. VF, brown patina.

From the Warden Family Collection.


Classical Numismatic Group is pleased to offer the Warden Family Collection of Turkoman figural bronze coins struck by the Artuqid, Zangid, Ayyubid, and Danishmendid dynasties. The present sale offers 78 coins, with the remaining 27 being run concurrently in CNG Electronic Auction 335. A familiar and well-respected name in the numismatic community for almost a half century, the Wardens have devoted themselves to the coinage of Central Asia, from the beginning of coinage in the region up through the Islamic period.

This collection consists of most of the major S&S types of Artuqid and Zangid bronze dirhems, as well as a couple of Danishmendid and Ayyubid types, including a dirhem of al-Nasir I Salah al-Din Yusuf (Saladin). This collection offers a special opportunity for the beginning, intermediate, or specialized collector of Turkoman figural coinage to add to their collection by acquiring attractive and rare coins brought together by one of the most important and esteemed numismatic families in this field.

Although Islamic tradition (hadith) prohibits the depiction of humans or animals, it was not always strictly enforced. One such instance of this was the coinage of the Turkoman dynasties – the Artuqids, Zangids, and Danishmendids, as well as the Ayyubids – which included a variety of human and animal figural types on their bronze dirhems. Initially nomads, these groups, once they settled in the regions of Mesopotamia (al-Jazira) and Anatolia and established dynasties there, recognized the need to establish political legitimacy over the areas they now ruled. These territories had been governed by a variety of earlier empires (Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Sasanian), and consisted of various Christian and Arabic groups, all of whom had long exposure to coinage as a medium for expressing political legitimacy. Respecting western culture, these Turkoman rulers also admired and appreciated western art (S&S p. xvii) and were open to accepting certain religious tenets and iconography within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which provided models for some of the Byzantine-inspired coin types. Concurrently, a neo-classical revival was under way in the region of the al-Jazira. Greek and Roman coins that existed as parts of then-available collections or individual examples provided the models for other coin types. These new coin types did not simply copy their ancient prototypes, but through an historical understanding of their motifs, they combine ancient and more contemporary iconography, or in turn classicize contemporary iconography, causing the viewer assume a connection to classical prototype which does not actually exist. The presence of so many different coin types might suggest a broad logical pattern to their usage, something that often fails when consideration is based on the types themselves. With so many different coin types in the series, it would seem impossible to find a logical pattern, However, when one considers that the origins of these dynasties were on the Central Asian steppes, where the heavens were fundamental for negotiating their day-to-day existence, these coin types demonstrate a marked astroligical influence in their designs, something that makes them unique to their Turkoman issuers.