as-Sikka السكة
The Online Journal of The Islamic Coins Group 
as-Sikka is a peer reviewed publication
ISSN 1496-4414 

Summer 2000AD / 1421AH       Vol. 2.2


A New Dirham Type of Sultan Isma'il from Trablus
By Fawzan Barrage

Recently a hoard of Mamluk Dirhams and fractional Dirhams was found in the eastern Mediterranean region. The hoard was made available to Warren Shultz and myself for study before disbursement on the market. Among the coins found in the Mediterranean hoard 1 are two examples of a very distinct and as yet unpublished dirham type of al-Salih Imad al-Din Isma'il, minted in Trablus (Tripoli).

Balog in his work in 1964 (MSES) 2 did not mention any coins of al-Salih from Trablus. In his additions and corrections 1970 MN # 16 3 , Balog added a single dirham of al-Salih from Trablus (282B) and Mitchell 4 in the same issue published a similar one (282C).

Several elements distinguish the coin at hand (henceforth 282D) from 282B and 282C, which are essentially identical.

Trablus.JPG (26646 bytes)
La Ilaha Illa Allah
Muhammad Rasul Allah
Arsalahu Bil-Huda
Wa Din al-Haqq
Duriba Bi-Tarablus
al-Sultan al(malik)
(al-)Salih 'Imad (al-Dunya)
(wa al)-Din Isma'il

Trablustext.JPG (17051 bytes)

282D has the mint name on the Obverse whereas the other two show the mint name on the reverse. Furthermore, 282D shows an interesting symbol over the 'sin' of Sultan along with a 'sukun' visible over the 'sad' of Salih and a squiggle over the 'ayn' of 'Imad. The trace of an annulet is also visible to the right of Duriba and it is assumed that a symmetrical annulet is to the left of Trablus, although it is off the flan.

Two different spellings of Isma'il are known on Mamluk coins. The first joins the 'mim' with the ''ayn' leaving a short 'a' to be assumed from the grammatical punctuation (also not showing); the other has a long 'a' sound and is spelled with an 'alif' between the 'mim' and the ''ayn'. The ''ayn' in also  placed over the 'mim' and it's tail intersects the 'alif' before joining the 'lam'. It is this later spelling that is used on both 282B and 282D. Mitchell assumes the earlier spelling on 282C, but since Isma'il is off the flan on 282C, and in the light of two dissimilar examples showing identical spellings from Trablus, Mitchell's assumption should be revisited.

The reverse on each of the three dirhams is different. 282C is simple in its calligraphy. 282B has the added vertical 'fatha' over the 'ha' of Ilah while the 'ra' in Rasoul is rotated to a near horizontal level. Both 282C and 282B have the mint name on the first line of the reverse.
The present dirham, 282D has the mint name on the obverse as we mentioned earlier. It is missing the vertical 'fatha' over the 'ha', and the 'ra' in Rasoul is more acutely angled. There is also a bird-like symbol over the 'sin' of arsalahu, but this later element cannot be properly compared to the earlier two coins since the line is off the flan in both 282C and 282B.

Dirham 282D has no date showing. It measures 19 mm. and weighs 2.23 gms.

1- Fawzan Barrage and Warren Shultz, "A Hoard of Mamluk Dirhams from a Shipwreck, ca. 1347", Article forthcoming.
2- Paul Balog "The Coinage of The Mamluk Sultans of Egypt and Syria" Numismatic Studies No. 12, The American Numismatic Society, New York 1964.
3- Paul Balog "The Coinage The Mamluk Sultans: Additions and Corrections, Museum Notes No. 16, The American Numismatic Society, New York 1970
4- Helen W. Mitchell, "Notes on Some Mamluk Dirhams", Museum Notes No. 16, The American Numismatic Society, New York 1970

This article was also printed in the ONS newsletter

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