THE London Islamic sales week got of to a ‘magic carpet’ start when Morton and Eden held an 81-lot sale devoted to the rarest Islamic coins.
The spectacular price at the sale on April 4 was for the Umayyad
gold dinar of Hegira year 105 (723AD), which carried an estimate of
£300,000-400,000. This seemed a perfectly responsible estimate, but
when bidding opened at the low estimate, it soon became clear that
it would quickly be left behind.
Four bidders did battle, with an unnamed member of the London
trade eventually securing it at £3.1m, an auction record for an
Islamic coin and a price believed to be second highest for a gold
coin only to the $7.5m, 1933 $20 Gold Double Eagle sold at
Sotheby's in 2002.
It is destined for a European private collector.
To all intents and purposes, this coin looks similar to dinars
which can be had for around £200. However, the inscription is not
the same. It was inscribed as coming from the personal gold mine of
the Caliph himself in the Hijaz. This Caliph led the Hajj
(pilgrimage to Mecca).
It was probably struck at Damascus and was the first of its kind
to appear at auction.
The sale netted a total of £5.56m - M&E's whole 2010 take
amounted to £5.92m.