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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Struck to Commemorate the Capture of Asir

Triton XXII, Lot: 1258. Estimate $150000.
Sold for $170000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

INDIA, Mughal Empire. Jalal al-Din Muhammad Akbar. AH 963-1014 / AD 1556-1605. AV Mohur (20mm, 11.19 g, 6h). Falcon type. Asir mint. Dated Khurdad Ilahi year 45 (20 February – 20 March AD 1600). Falcon standing right on floral background / Allahu Akbar isfandarmuz ilahi 45 zarb Asir (Allah is great Khordad Ilahi 45 struck [at] Asir) in Persian. Liddle Type G-31 = Hull 1214 = Friedberg 739f = BM 166 (ex Payne Knight collection; same dies); J. Gibbs, “On two Enormous Gold Coins,” and “Exhibition of Coins,” in Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (January 1883, pp. 4-5; Wright –; KM 119C.1. Near VF, struck with worn die, areas of minor roughness, a few marks, ex jewelry. Exceedingly rare. Of important historical and iconographic interest.

The Falcon mohur is the earliest of the highly desirable iconographic issues of Akbar and his son Jahangir. It was struck to commemorate the capture of the mighty fortress of Asir, principal stronghold of the Khandesh sultanate, on 17 January 1601 CE (AH 12 Rajab 1009). Akbar’s trusted Grand Vizier, Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, author of the celebrated Akbarnama, led the Mughal army during the six-month siege. The fall of Asir precipitated the conquest of the Deccan and thus vastly extended Akbar’s dominion in India. It was said that a great treasure was found in the fortress, and this was perhaps the source of the bullion for the Falcon mohurs. The issue, however, was very small. Only seven examples are traceable today, four of which are in museum collections, all struck from the same, single pair of skilfully engraved dies. The Falcon mohur was the sole product of the mint at Asir.

Why a falcon should be chosen for the obverse type remains something of a mystery. In his catalog of the British Museum collection Stanley Lane-Poole wondered if the falcon was chosen “in allusion to the conquering swoop of the besiegers.” Falconry was a favorite sport of the Mughal court, and falcons appear frequently in Mughal art, particularly miniatures.