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.