In the Eighth Century AD, while Western Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, Islamic Civilization stormed out of the Arabian Peninsula and swept over the lands formerly held by the Roman and Persian Empires. Millions of new adherents and subjects were introduced to a vibrant culture rooted in veneration of the Prophet Mohammed and the religion he founded. Islamic art, science, and literature brought a brilliant light to a formerly darkened world. Soon after the establishment of the vast medieval Islamic Empire, its dynastic rulers began striking coins that hewed closely to the Koranic and Biblical ban on “graven images”, while finding their own unique and beautiful blend of calligraphic art, Islamic religion, and floral aesthetic design.
Painstakingly assembled over a 40 year period, the Sunrise Collection, to be featured in our upcoming 2013 January 6-7 Ancient & World Coin Signature Auctionis one of the most comprehensive private collections ever put together tracing the magnificent history of Islam as a world power, with a special focus on two of its most important states — Persia and Mughal India. Comprising nearly 800 coins in gold, silver, and bronze, the Sunrise Collection spans nearly a millennium and a half, from within a few decades after the Hijra (AD 621/AH1), through the end of the Qajar Dynasty (AD 1794-1925/AH 1174-1305). Also included are early Arab-Sassanian coins, important Arabic coins of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties (AD 661-1258/AH 41-638), the Seljuq and Ottoman Empires (AD 1071-1923/AH 451-1303), and of neighboring Nepal and Tibet. With an overriding emphasis on quality and rarity, the Sunrise Collection bears testimony to the collector’s dedication, outstanding eye, knowledge of history, and love of his heritage.
“The collector began assembling a remarkable collection of Islamic Coins nearly forty years ago, always seeking the finest quality and the greatest rarity,” said Stephen Album, author of Checklist of Islamic Coinsand prime cataloger for the Sunrise Collection. “As his knowledge and financial position improved, he constantly searched not just for the rarest coins, but the artistically most magnificent. The collector understood that even moderately rare coins of outstanding quality were far more important than mediocre examples.”
“The consignor’s own Iranian background allowed him to recognize the finest Iranian coins,” continued Album, “an ability that spread to Mughal and later Indian coins, whose style was derived from Iranian traditions, and were inscribed in the Persian language. Most of the specimens are of such awesome quality that comparable pieces may never again become available. I have witnessed the collector’s ability to sort through a group of many hundreds of coins and select the one or two extraordinary pieces that are the fabulous gems, unlikely ever to be found again. This is not just a large collection — it is a work of art!”
Just a few of the highlights of the Sunrise Collection are:
- Safavid, Sulayman I, 1078-1105 / 1668-1694, gold 16 ashrafis. Isfahan AH 1096, A-M2657, Choice Very Fine
- Qajar, Fath ‘Ali Shah, AH 1212-1250 / AD 1797-1834, gold 5 toman. Tabriz AH 1226, type U, A T2683. Nearly Mint State)
- Mughal, Jahangir, AH 1015-1037 / AD 1605-1628, gold portrait mohur. Without mint name, AH 1020 year 6 (AD 1611). Choice Extremely Fine
- Mughal, Jahangir, AH 1014-1037 / AD 1605-1627, gold zodiac mohur. Pisces, Agra AH 1028 year 14. BMC India 358. Extremely Fine
- Qajar, Nasir al-Din Shah, AH 1264-1313 / AD 1848-1896, gold 10 toman medallion issue. Without mint name. AH 1209 (for 1290), Good Extremely Fine
- Qajar, Nasir al-Din Shah, AH 1264-1313 / AD 1848-1896, silver 5 qiran. Dar al Saltana Tehran AH 1267, A-2938G. Choice Mint State
- Safavid, Tahmasp II, AD 1135-1145 / AH 1722-1732, silver 20 shahi. Tabriz AH 1135, A A2689. Choice Mint State
- Safavid, Husayn I, AH 1105-1135 / AD 1694-1722, silver 10 shahi. Isfahan AH 1128, “9” recut over “8”, Choice Extremely Fine
- Abbasid, al-Mutawakkil, AH 232-247 / AD 847-861, gold double dinar for presentation. Surra man Ra’a 245, A T229, Choice Extremely Fine
- Mughal, Jahangir, AH 1015-1037 / AD 1605-1628, gold nazarana sawai mohur. Agra AH 1018 year 5. Choice Mint State
This collection and the rest of the 2013 January 6-7 Ancient & World Coin Signature Auction will open for bidding soon at HA.com/Coins.
Thank you for the information about the historic coins. I would like to point out that much of what is nowadays being called as Islamic Culture, was actually borrowed from Persian / Iranian culture of a millenia before the advent of Islam.
One of the oldest monotheistic religions was founded over 4,500 years ago, by His Holiness Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), teaching belief in Ahuramazda or Wise Lord who created the universe and laws according to which it operates, as well as importance of Truth, Free Will, moral accountability of individuals, heavenly state for good actions and suffering for wrong choices, equality of men and women, resurrection of the world at the end of time, coming of various Saviours (messengers of God) from time to time, etc.
The religion of Prophet Zarathushtra was the majority religion of three Persian empires (Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanian) including that of the rulers for over a thousand years before Islam. Cyrus the Great who founded the first Persian empire in sixth centurey B.C., inscribed the oldest known Declaration of Human Rights on a clay cylinder that is now in the British Museum with a copy in the United Nations.
A Zarathushti (Zoroastrian) priest, Dastur Dinyar befriended Prophet Mohamed (who called him Salman-e-Farsi) and informed him about the teachings and religious practices such as five-times-a-day prayer after cleaning exposed parts of the body.
The late American philosopher and scholar, Joseph Campbell said in one of his public television series on Eastern Religions, that contrary to the general belief about Greeks inventing rational thinking, it was actually Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) who originated that concept, by telling his followers to give up superstitious beliefs and instead search for the truth and choose the righteous path with reason rather than blind obedience.
After the Arabs invaded Iran / Persia, they learned the sophisticated arts and culture of that empire and adopted much of it as their own.
Co-founder, Zoroastrian Associations of California