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Old 27th December 2004, 11:26 AM   #1
Flavio
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Question A Sudanese dagger with a silver coin

Hi all,
This is my last purchase: it's a sudanese dagger (meaning for Sudanese all the zone to south of the Sahara). The handle is made of ironwood and on the heel of the handle there is an arab silver coin. It's quite normal to find a coin on the heel of these daggers, but my question is: someone recognizes this particular coin? The provenience and the dating? The blade is of good iron/steel with some chipping on the edge and the tip bent and beaten again.
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Old 28th December 2004, 08:16 AM   #2
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Default Ottoman Coin

What you have on the dagger appears to be a coin minted in the Ottoman empire as it carries what appears to be a Tughra, in other words the Sultan's emblem in the shape of an elaborate calligraphic composition which contains his name and imperial titles. The Tughra may shed a light on the period the coin was minted but the picture is a bit too small. But mind you, Tughra writing is not easy to read.
I'm no expert on Turkish history and coinage, so can someone help?
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Old 28th December 2004, 08:36 AM   #3
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An old coin is not a certain way to calculate age or exact origin of an item. It is more common to use old and/or useless coins as decoration parts than new valueble ones.
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Old 28th December 2004, 11:58 PM   #4
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Is it? Perhaps now days. It's an undermining of the coin as a display of wealth; the coin belts of mainland SE Asia were origninally, if they aren't still, a form of savings, for instance....
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Old 29th December 2004, 06:46 AM   #5
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Sure,the dating of a coin and its origin could be
completely different from the dating of the dagger and its origin,
being the coin an object with its own history,
but the curiosity to know most possible of an object is great!
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Old 29th December 2004, 08:18 PM   #6
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Hi Flavio. I have a decent collection of Ottoman coins from the time of Orhan (abt. 1325 AD) till the last Sultan Muhammad VI (1923 AD), altogether some 600 – 700 different pieces. So I feel free to identify your coin. First of all, I like to state that the coin is a very good help for dating your dagger, as it is obvious that the assembly date can not be earlier than the date of the coin. (nevertheless, some parts like the blade might be much older). Your coin is indeed from the Ottoman Empire, it is a 5/10 Quirsh minted in Misr ( Egypt), so minded not far from Sudan. The side with the Tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. is visible, below there is the Arabic number 21 and the word Sene, which means year. So this coin was minted in the 21st year of the reign of this Sultan. He reigned from 1293 AH till 1327 AH, which is from 1876 AD till 1909 AD. So the year of minting was 1896 AD (you have to add 20, not 21, as that would count the first year twice).
On the backside, you will find a large Arabic 5, date of accession 1293 and the name of the mint Misr. I only have to disappoint you about the material, it is not Silver, but Copper-Nickel, the silver coins from this Sultan have much different ornaments.
A beautiful dagger it is indeed, congratulations!
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Old 29th December 2004, 08:45 PM   #7
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Thank you very much Rather, for your precise and deepened explanation.
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Old 29th December 2004, 08:55 PM   #8
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Flavio, I suppose that the manufacturing date of your dagger can be close to that of the coin (chapeau bas, Rather!). I have seen a lot of daggers of a similar type, all of them coming from the Sudan; the workmanship of your piece suggests that it is quite old. Those more recently made (mainly for tourists) are of much worse quality. Also hilts with a disk-shaped pommel seem be produced no more. Really nice thing!
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Old 29th December 2004, 11:47 PM   #9
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Something is strange here. 1896 Egypt was not part of Ottoman empire.

Mohamed Ali had declare indepentance 1840 and in mid 1882 the British colonized Egypt.

Is this coin a sultan's "wish" or Misr goes with something else here?

From late 18th century till early 20th ottoman empire was falling in pieces. Corruption in capital, european antagonists and ethnic revorlts. If it was not Kemal and "Neoturks" movement to stop the destruction, I dont know how the turkish state could be now days.
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Old 30th December 2004, 11:23 AM   #10
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Default Everything OK

Yannis, Misr is definitely Egypt. Nominally Egypt was a part of the Ottoman Empire until the WWI, thus Egyptian coins were Ottoman in fact, and decorated with tughras. The political situation in the Empire has nothing to do here. (BTW. the Europeans worked hard to make the things even worse.)
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Old 30th December 2004, 12:22 PM   #11
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Kamil

I have to read some history again

Do you mean that Ottoman sultan was the ruler of Misr, or just his coins were the main curency in Egypt in the fall of 19th century?
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Old 30th December 2004, 12:39 PM   #12
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Yannis,
nominally the sultans were rulers of Egypt, as well as the whole Empire. Egypt, as its part, has a special, semi-independent status and was ruled by representatives of sultan bearing the title of khedive (not to mention the role of English in that period), but the Egyptian currency was issued in the name of sultans. (The same currency was also used in some periods in the Sudan)
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Old 30th December 2004, 08:58 PM   #13
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Kamil’s statements are right, all coins of Egypt were struck in the name of the Ottoman Sultan till 1914, the beginning of the British Occupation. Nevertheless, it was merely for formal reasons. (They were different from the coins being in circulation in Turkey, they only have the same Tughra, the "seal" of the Sultan on it)
Especially this coin in question does not fit into the traditionally monetary system of the Ottoman Empire, which counted 40 Para to the Quirsh. You see that the Quirsh is now divided into 10 parts and Copper-Nickel is used as a metal for coins. (until that date only pure copper, silver and gold were used) This type of coinage was introduced in the year 1886 AD, definitely under influence of the British, the “de facto rulers”. As far as I remember, they were even struck in Birmingham and put into circulation in Egypt.
Please also remember that the Sultan was till 1924 the Khalif, the spiritual leader of the Moslems. You will find his name even on some coins struck outside the Ottoman Empire, I own for instance a coin from Kashgar, minted 1873 AD with the name of Sultan Abdul Aziz on it, and for sure Kashgar was not a part of the Ottoman Empire.
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Old 30th December 2004, 10:04 PM   #14
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Thanks to all for the beautiful discussion on this coin/dagger.
The informations given are very interesting and precise.
Thank you very much, guys
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Old 31st December 2004, 01:26 AM   #15
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Here is another example of one of these daggers, dated 1317 AH (= 1899 AD).
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Old 31st December 2004, 08:55 AM   #16
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A really beautiful piece!
Lee, is it possible to have a better photo of the inscription running across the blade? The one running along it says "al-Khartoum" and the date, so the second can be manufacturer's name? (it looks like that). Is there any inscription carved on the obverse side of the blade?
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Old 31st December 2004, 07:46 PM   #17
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Here are the inscriptions from both sides of the 10.375 inch blade. I have rotated the inscriptions on the forte (hopefully in the correct direction). This is one of the daggers I presented at this year's Ashokan bladesmith's seminar and I believe that it was the object most favored by the knifemakers of the dozen items I showed.
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Old 1st January 2005, 06:22 PM   #18
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Thank you, Lee, the pictures are great, as is the dagger itself. And the inscriptions are interesting, unfortunately I do not understand well that on the reverse of the forte. Has anyone translated it?
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Old 2nd January 2005, 02:38 PM   #19
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Thank you, Kamil, for asking the question. I bought the dagger from Oriental Arms on ebay a few years ago and remembered the description as having included a translation. Unfortunately, while I would have backed up such data, a change of computers and clutter have hidden that backup. Your question prompted me to check the sold items archive of Oriental Arms, and here is the translation as well as better pictures.
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Old 2nd January 2005, 10:06 PM   #20
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Lee, the translation given at Oriental Arms (with all due respect) is not perfect. The inscription along the blade (your 1st photo, left) reads actually "forged (and not "hand made") in Omdurman". The text across the blade (the same photo, right) is enigmatic for me: the first word can be mulk ("propriety") or malik ("king", but also a name) but the second one is difficult to read. The name on the lower picture (right) is certainly not Anwar Rushdi. I would read it "Anwar Shandi", but I'm not absolutely sure of the second word's ending.
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