a Fatimid gold coin

A unique medieval Fatimid gold coin of Malta. A unique Fatimid 1/4 Dinar was discovered by a numismatic expert in London dispelled the belief that no coins were minted in Malta during the Arab period. The Fatimid quarter dinar minted in Malta in 1080 has now led to a revision of Maltese numismatic history.

Arab rule began towards the end of August 870 after the Island fell under the control of the Aghlabids. In 909 the Aghlabids were deposed by the Fatimids who expanded their power to Sicily and most of North Africa, with Cairo as the capital of their empire. The Fatimid dinars were made of almost pure gold possible by the plentiful supply of gold from the mines of Upper Egypt and maybe the Pharaoninic tombs. This quarter dinar was minted during the reign of al-Mustansir (1036-1094) in the year 472 AH, according to the Muslim calender. It weighs 1.30 gms and has inscriptions in Kufic script. On the obverse the usual insciptions ' There is no god but Allah - Muhammed is the prophet of Allah and continues He who sent His messenger ......... The reverse has two inscription the inner has the usual inscription: 'the Iman al Maustansir , prince of Believerse. The outer reads ' In the name of Allah this dinar was struck in Malta in the year two and seventy and four hundred (472 AH). The quarter dinar is referred to as 'rubai' which means quarter. The assertion by Andre de Clermont that the name of Malta is found on the coin had been confirmed after consultations by well known experts on Islamic coinage. The experts consulted included Dr Douglas Nichol author of the 'Corpus of Fatimid Coins' the principal reference work on Islamic coinage. The other experts are Stephen Album, one of the World's leading expert on Islamic coins and author of the three volumes on the collection of Islamic coins at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Giulio Bernardi another leading specialest in Islamic coinage, publisher of 'Corpus delle Monete Cufiche d'Oro. In 2010, this quarter dinar was acquired by the Central Bank Malta where it is on display. I remember way back in mid 2010 when Andre de Clermont phoned me regarding the unique quarter diner minted in Malta and asked if I know if anybody in Malta would be interested in this coin.

Emmanuel Azzopardi

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