Search in Feature Auction

CNG Bidding Platform


Products and Services

Use Old Home Page

Feature Auction
CNG Islamic Auction 1

Lot nuber 24

Umayyad Caliphate. temp. ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. AH 65-86 / AD 685-705. AR Drachm (32.5mm, 3.38g, 3h). Dimashq mint. Dated AH 72 / AD 691/2.

CNG Islamic Auction 1
Lot: 24.
 Estimated: $ 15 000

Pre-Reform Coinage, Silver

Sold For $ 22 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

Umayyad Caliphate. temp. ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. AH 65-86 / AD 685-705. AR Drachm (32.5mm, 3.38g, 3h). Dimashq mint. Dated AH 72 / AD 691/2. Obverse: - / bismillah / Muhammad rasul / Allah in margin; name of Khusraw in Pahlawi before bust. Reverse: Dimashq to left, with pellet above ‘m’; date ithnayn wa saba‘in in Arabic to right. Malek 524. Some staining on obverse and pin-marks in margins. VF. Extremely rare, the first Islamic silver coin to bear a date written in Arabic.

The Umayyad Caliphate stretched across former Byzantine provinces in the West and territory captured from the Sasanians in the East, uniting these culturally distinct regions for the first time in their history.  However, the Eastern and Western halves of this new empire retained many of their own traditions of language, culture and government.  During the years of conquest the Arabs had been largely content to retain the administrative systems and structures of the lands they conquered, but as the focus of the new Islamic state began to shift from conquest to consolidation, it became increasingly important to develop a single, unified system of government which could run throughout the Islamic world. This pragmatic approach also extended to the coinage. The Sasanians had produced an almost exclusively silver coinage based on the drachm, while the Byzantines mainly struck gold solidi and copper folles with silver coins issued only sporadically. The Arabs modified the legends on Sasanian drachms, identifiying them as a distinctively Islamic coinage, but left the general appearance of the coins largely unchanged for some forty years. Copies of Byzantine folles were also produced in considerable quantities, again with only minor alterations to their prototypes. Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphate, had formerly been part of the Byzantine empire.  It had no tradition of producing a silver coinage, but by the 70s/690s the plentiful influx of silver in tax revenues from the former Sasanian lands made it necessary for a mint in the capital to be able to do so.  By the end of the decade, the caliph ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan had introduced a completely new and distinctively Islamic previous metal coinage.  Gold dinars and silver dirhams of standard and uniform design would be struck at Damascus from the coinage’s inception until the fall of the dynasty in AH 132 / AD 750. But in AH 72 / AD 691/2, when the very first Islamic silver coins were struck in the Umayyad capital, these great developments still lay in the future.  Instead, the Umayyads naturally looked back to the well-established Sasanian drachms when introducing the first Islamic silver coinage at Damascus.  The three coins offered here (lots 24-26) represent an exceptional opportunity to acquire an example from each of the first three years of this new and historically important coinage.  Their design and legends demonstrate clearly why the Umayyads would soon feel it necessary to abandon Byzantine and Sasanian prototypes and start afresh.  Unlike other Arab-Sasanian silver then being issued, these Damascus drachms bear the mint-name and date written in Arabic. However, all three coins still bear the name and image of the Sasanian emperor Khusraw II, who had died more than sixty years previously and who had never ruled in Damascus.  Moreover, Khusraw’s name is written in Pahlawi, which neither the Arabic-speaking Umayyads nor the local Syrian population would have been able to read.  These transitional drachms are extremely rare survivors from this experimental period when the Umayyads were vainly searching for a compromise between the Sasanian tradition and the Islamic future.

The final winners of all CNG Islamic Auction 1 lots will be determined at the live online sale that will be held on 25 May 2022, beginning at 10:00 AM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

We recognize that our users may have various Internet Browsers and Operating Systems. We like our visitors to have the best possible experience when using our bidding platform. However, we do recognize that it is impossible to develop applications that work identically, efficiently and effectively on all web browsers. The CNG bidding platform supports the latest stable major version and the stable previous version of Mozilla Firefox and Chrome.