Extremely Rare NGC-certified 'King of Arab Lands' Dinar Featured in January Auction
Posted on 1/13/2022
Some of the most sought-after coins are those that capture and preserve a moment in history, be it the inaugural year of a mint, the launch of an iconic design or the commemoration of an important event. Certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®), an extremely rare gold coin from the 1920s that commemorated the inauguration of a new kingdom and a new king — but with a design flourish that quickly was deemed to be overreaching — is the highlight of a Stephen Album Rare Coins sale, taking place January 20-23, 2022.
The Hejaz AH1334//8 “King of Arab Lands” Dinar is one of only four known to exist, according to Stephen Album Rare Coins. With a grade of NGC MS 62, it is the higher of the two examples graded by NGC. It has an estimate of $250,000.
Various denominations of coins were issued from 1916 to 1924 by the Kingdom of Hejaz, located in what today is western Saudi Arabia. This particular coin is an extremely rare variety because of the words “King of Arab Lands” that were included in its design. The title was one that the king gave to himself and one that his neighbors in the Mideast did not appreciate.
Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashimi was born in Istanbul in 1853 or 1854, a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. In 1908, he was appointed Sharif of Mecca, a high-ranking position that made him responsible for protecting Islam’s holiest city and ensuring the safety of Muslim pilgrims during their journey there.
In 1916, Hussein initiated the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire in an effort to create a single unified Arab state, known as the State of Hejaz, which Great Britain promised to support. At that time, Hussein declared himself King of the Hejaz, a title that other regional leaders accepted. He also declared himself King of Arab Lands, a title that neighboring leaders did not embrace. Rather than continue to strike coins with his disputed title, Hussein issued a new design that replaced the language with “The Renaissance of the Lands of Arabia.”
Ibn Saud, who founded Saudi Arabia and would become its first king in 1923, reportedly was one of the main figures opposed to Hussein’s title. He would later conquer Hejaz and take control of Mecca.
It is interesting to note that prior to beginning its own minting in the early 1920s, the Kingdom of Hejaz used countermarked coins as its currency. The most common currencies countermarked for use in Hejaz were coins from Turkey and Maria Theresa Thalers, a silver coin first minted in Austria in 1741 and still used today as a “trade silver dollar” in some Arab countries.
A recent article from NGC with more information on countermarked coins can be found here: Unusually Shaped Coins Certified by NGC Featured in Upcoming Heritage Sales
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