Persian Gold Coins

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Persia had a long history of a coinage under a variety of different rulers since the time of Cyrus the Great. Often referred to as the second seat of ancient coinage, Persia was once the realm of Cyrus the Great who made it a great empire from 600 – 529 BC. Persian gold coinage at the time was an offshoot and a continuation of Lydian gold coinage which was first developed by Croesus of Lydia. The use gold as a standard of coinage was later adopted by the Persian conqueror Cyrus and his successors Xerxes and Ataxerxes, creating a long line of gold coins of ancient and often obscure nature. [1] Because the Persians experienced a numerous change in rulers throughout the centuries, their coinage also evolved depending on their current ruler, although the most well known of Persian gold coins to this very day is the daric. A gold coin which was minted at about the time of Darius I (circa 521 BC) the darics were known for one striking feature – they were minted expressly under the permission of the king alone. While many other types of coinage (both gold and silver) were minted by satraps (governors) independently prior to Darius's reign (the coins of which were referred to as the Achaemenid coinages)[2] , it was during his tenure as king that the right to issue coinage became the sole authority of the king, with any attempts at creating 'unofficial' coinage being punishable by death – a practice which would later be adopted by many empires after his. [3] Darics featured the image of King Darius in the form of an archer or a god carrying lightning bolts, but it was for the former design that his coins were jokingly referred to as 'archers' during its run. After Alexander's defeat of Darius's army, the Persians soon had to adopt Hellenistic gold coins bearing the image of Alexander or that of his father, Philip of Macedon. Among the most notable of gold coins issued under Alexander's reign of Persia was the double daric, now an exceedingly valuable and rare coin that is the prize of many a collector today.

After Alexander's death and the division of his vast empire, the Persians became privy to a number of different conquerors, each with their own governmental system and coinage. The most lasting type of gold coinage that came to flourish in Persia were the Seljuks and later, the Turks who left lasting impressions in the aesthetics and designs of their currency to this very day. While Europe abolished the use of the gold coin after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the abolishment of the hyperpyron of Byzantium, Persia continued to issue gold coins al throughout its history.

Many Persian gold coins are made from pure 24 carat (.999 fine) gold, in varying diameters and weights. While they are equally precious as other gold coins, not many collectors fancy attaining Persian gold coins due to their obscure writings, many of which are too antiquated to even be translated with accuracy. Early examples of Persian gold coins largely imitated that of the Grecian coinages issued throughout the Mediterranean which is why many Persian coins from the time of Cyrus until the latter days of the Macedonian rule of Persia are usually referred to or categorized as Greek coins. It was not until the reign of the Seljuks and the development of a currency system by yet still another conqueror – the Mongols – that Persian gold coinage came to become distinctly their own. Just like Arabic gold coins, Persian gold coins are replete with highly ornate calligraphy and borders, although unlike Arabic coins which bear not image of any ruler Persian coins possess a bust of a ruler on the obverse. As with many countries influenced by Islamic custom, many Persian gold coins were originally dated using the Muslim lunar calendar system prior to a change on the 25th of March 1925, when the Persian calendar system became a monarchical one with the election Reza Khan as the Shah of Persia. [4] This system did not last long however, as it was then changed to the original Muslim calendar once again. The gold coins of Persia follow a denomination system taken from the Mongolians, and a calendar system taken from the Muslim Arabs, making it a hybrid coinage that speaks of its chequered history. Today, Persian gold coins are collected by a limited number of hobbyists, enthusiasts, and investors but due to their often obscure nature, not many numismatists hanker to possess them. Investors on the other hand can't get enough of Persian coins both ancient and modern, as they are well known for their weight and fineness.

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Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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