When I first started collecting coins, I purchased whatever caught my attention with little to no discipline. As I matured, I found myself focused on EAC and early U.S. type coins. Eventually, I abandoned those areas of focus and shifted my attention to world coins. More specifically, almost all of my collecting efforts are focused on English and Irish copper, emphasizing the Soho coinage.
Perhaps it is this intense focus that makes my newest purchase so odd. It is not copper, it not English or Irish, and it predates the bulk of my collection by multiple centuries. Given that this coin is so far removed from my ordinary pursuits, I would have been lost without the detailed description inscribed on the envelope by the previous owner, Eric Newman. The envelope is marked Arab Sasasnian Abbasid Silver ½ Dirham. The description continues identifying the piece as struck at Tabaristan Mint (Muqatil). Newman graded this piece as XF, and he noted that it was acquired from the Morris Collection. I find this coin interesting, and I look forward to doing a little more research as time permits, but this is not the only reason I purchased it.
As it relates to my area of focus, the world coin market is very hot right now. The higher prices have made it difficult for me to add new examples to my collection while maintaining the general quality I have come to expect. As an alternative, I have been purchasing relatively inexpensive eye appealing coins to hone my photography skills. I have a fair amount of experience with copper, but silver is a metal that I rarely work with when photographing coins. The fact that this coin was silver, toned, and not perfectly round made it an ideal candidate to test my skills. Overall, I think the images do a decent job capturing the color and character of the coin, but I found the editing portion to be cumbersome as I had to test out entirely new techniques to account for the jagged edges and irregular shape. I am happy with how the images turned out, and I look forward to applying the lessons learned from this experience to a much more complicated project already in the queue.
Arab Sasasnian Abbasid, AR ½ Dirham, AH 174 (AD 790-791)
Issue: Muqatil – Governor of Tabaristan
Size/Weight: 23.20mm, 1.80g
Provenance: Eric Newman Collection, Morris Collection