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Numismatics

NUMISMATICS

the study of coins and related objects.

Numismatics is an ancillary science to history that seeks to identify coins as to place, date, and government of issue so that the inscriptions, images, and other features of the coins can be used as evidence for political, economic, social, and cultural history. For archaeologists, coins are the most consistently datable evidence. Islamic coins produced in Muslim countries and similar coins sometimes issued by non-Muslims are especially useful for historical researchnearly all were inscribed with their city and date of issue and usually (according to the tradition of Islam) did not have images. This left space for long inscriptions, including the names and titles of the rulers under whom they were issued and something of their religious beliefs.

As a field of study, numismatics began during the European Renaissance as part of the general re-discovery of the classical world. Muslim historians did not use coins as historical evidence, although occasionally an extraordinary issue might be mentioned or described. More often they noted changes in the monetary system of their countries, and some writers, notably al-Baladhuri in the ninth century and al-Maqrizi in the first half of the fifteenth century, wrote brief treatises on monetary history. A few descriptions of mint operation were written as well as a few disquisitions on monetary theory, of which the most interesting is by the great historian Ibn Khaldun of fifteenth-century Egypt.

Some Islamic coins were noted in passing in works on other subjects, but the first study of Islamic numismatics was a twenty-page article in 1759. The first catalog of an Italian Islamic collection was published by Adler in 1782, followed by Assemani's catalog of a collection in Padua in 1787 and Tychsen's catalog of the Göttingen collection in 1787/88. Catalogs of public and private collections continued to be published throughout the nineteenth century, culminating at the end of the century in the great catalogs of the national collections of England, France, Germany, and Russia. Stanley Lane-Poole's ten-volume set of the British Museum Islamic coins (18751890) continues to be a standard reference, partly because of his excellent scholarship and also because it was the only complete catalog of any collection (the British Museum has acquired many more coins since that time). His introductions to the volumes, describing the history and coinage of each Muslim dynasty, are still useful. Lavoix's three massive volumes on the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, in Paris, and Nützel's two volumes on the collection of the Königliche Museum, in Berlin, are also standard references. Markov's catalog of the Hermitage collection, in St. Petersburg, is less used because the inscriptions are brief, the work is difficult to find in the West, and it is reproduced directly from his Russian manuscript.


A major impetus to European numismatic research on Islamic coins in the countries from Scandinavia through the Baltic states and into Russia has been the immense quantities of seventh-to-tenth-century Islamic silver coins brought to those countries and buried by the Vikings. Stockholm is one major center for this study, beginning with Torn-berg's several catalogs and studies from 1846 to 1870, and culminating with the great Corpus Nummorum Saeculorum IXXI, a collective project to publish (first volume 1975) all the Islamic (and English and German) silver coins of the Viking age that were found in Sweden. The other major center for such study, founded by C. M. Fraehn, was St. Petersburg. His works, beginning in 1808, were important not only for Russian numismatists but for scholars throughout Europe. In particular, he devised a scheme for the arrangement of the Islamic coin-issuing dynasties that was followed, with subsequent modifications, by most Islamic numismatists until recently. Russia's numismatic research was also impelled by Russian interest in the coinage of its newly conquered territories in the Caucasus and central Asia.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the leading Russian scholars were Markov, mentioned previously, and Tiesenhausen, who published the only general corpus of Abbasid coins produced to date (a corpus attempts to assemble all known coins of a historical period or place, whereas a catalog is limited to the coins of a single collection or several related collections). Perhaps the most brilliant scholar of the Russian school, Vasmer, was executed in 1938. Numismatic scholarship remained active in the Soviet Union, however, with major centers in Leningrad, Moscow, and the cities of Muslim central Asia.

Islamic numismatics has an early history in Spain, since the coinage of the Arabs there (the Moors) was part of that country's heritage from 711 to 1492. Vives's catalog of all Muslim Spanish issues remains a standard reference. George Miles founded Islamic numismatics at the American Numismatic Society in New York City, which remains one of the principal centers for the field. In 1989, Tübingen University, in Germany, acquired an extremely important collection of Islamic coins and has begun to develop a center for research and training.

The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were the first people of the Middle East to join in numismatic research, publishing in European journals as early as 1862. At the turn of the century, the Müzei Humayun (Imperial Museum) published a series of major catalogs in Ottoman Turkish that rank in importance with the productions of the large European museums. This promising beginning was halted by World War I and the series was never finished. Europeans living in Arab countries produced various works of significance during the first part of the twentieth century, but few Arabs contributed until the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of some Arab states.

Abd al-Rahman Fahmi produced several important catalogs and studies based on the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art, in Cairo, and Nasir al-Naqshbandi founded a school of numismatists in Baghdad, where the Iraq Museum is a major center for research with a journal devoted to Islamic coins called al-Maskukat. The Damascus Museum, in Syria, also has an active collection, and its late curator, Muhammad Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, produced several important works. Recently the Bank al-Maghrib of Rabat, Morocco, has created a numismatic center and published two major corpora of Moroccan coins by Daniel Eustache. Some public collections were built in Iran in the 1970s, but little has been published there. In Jordan, a center for numismatic research has been established at Yarmuk University with private support; a journal, Yarmouk Numismatics, was founded there.

The real explosion in Islamic numismatics began in the 1970s as a result of the new wealth brought by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil. Many private collectors in the Gulf countries began to bid up the price of Islamic coins, and the interest generated by rising prices led to great collector interest in Europe, the Americas, and Japan. This, as well as the expansion of Islamic studies in the West, has made the field extremely active.

see also organization of petroleum exporting countries (opec).


Bibliography


Album, Stephen. A Checklist of Islamic Coins, 2d edition. Santa Rosa, CA: Author, 1998.

Bates, Michael L. Islamic Coins. ANS Handbook 2. New York, 1982.

Bates, Michael L. "Islamic Numismatics," Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 12, no. 2 (May 1978): 116; 12, no. 3 (December 1978): 218; 13, no. 1 (July 1979): 321; 13, no. 2 (December 1979): 19.

Broome, Michael. A Handbook of Islamic Coins. London: Seaby, 1985.

Krause, Chester L., and Mishler, Clifford. Standard Catalog of World Coins. Iola, WI: Krause, annual editions.

Mayer, L. A. Bibliography of Moslem Numismatics, India Excepted, 2d edition. London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1954.

Mitchiner, Michael. Oriental Coins and Their Values. 3 vols. London: Hawkins, 1977.

michael l. bates

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numismatics

numismatics (nōō´mĬzmăt´Ĭks, –mĬs–), collection and study of coins, medals, and related objects as works of art and as sources of information. The coin and the medal preserve old forms of writing, portraits of eminent persons, and reproductions of lost works of art; they also assist in the study of early customs, in ascertaining dates, in clarifying economic status and trade relations, and in tracing changes in political attitudes. In the past many valuable coin collections were assembled by individuals; in the 20th cent., however, public museums have been responsible for building the largest collections. The largest coin market in the world is in London.

See J. A. MacKay, Value in Coins and Medals (1968); J. Porteous, Coins in History (1969); B. Hobson and R. Obojski, Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Coins (1970); C. J. Andrews, Fell's International Coin Book (5th ed. 1973); C. French, American Guide to U.S. Coins (annual ed.).

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numismatics

nu·mis·mat·ics / ˌn(y)oōməzˈmatiks; -məs-/ • pl. n. [usu. treated as sing.] the study or collection of coins, paper currency, and medals. DERIVATIVES: nu·mis·ma·tist / n(y)oōˈmizmətist; -ˈmis-/ n.

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numismatic

nu·mis·mat·ic / ˌn(y)oōməzˈmatik; -məs-/ • adj. of, relating to, or consisting of coins, paper currency, and medals. DERIVATIVES: nu·mis·mat·i·cal·ly / -ik(ə)lē/ adv.

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numismatic

numismatic XVIII. — F. numismatique, f. L. numisma, -mat-, var. (infl. by nummus coin) of nomisma — Gr. nómisma current coin, f. nomizein have in use, f. nómos use, custom; see -ISM, -ATIC.

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numismatic

numismaticachromatic, acrobatic, Adriatic, aerobatic, anagrammatic, aquatic, aristocratic, aromatic, Asiatic, asthmatic, athematic, attic, autocratic, automatic, axiomatic, bureaucratic, charismatic, chromatic, cinematic, climatic, dalmatic, democratic, diagrammatic, diaphragmatic, diplomatic, dogmatic, dramatic, ecstatic, emblematic, emphatic, enigmatic, epigrammatic, erratic, fanatic, hepatic, hieratic, hydrostatic, hypostatic, idiomatic, idiosyncratic, isochromatic, lymphatic, melodramatic, meritocratic, miasmatic, monochromatic, monocratic, monogrammatic, numismatic, operatic, panchromatic, pancreatic, paradigmatic, phlegmatic, photostatic, piratic, plutocratic, pneumatic, polychromatic, pragmatic, prelatic, prismatic, problematic, programmatic, psychosomatic, quadratic, rheumatic, schematic, schismatic, sciatic, semi-automatic, Socratic, somatic, static, stigmatic, sub-aquatic, sylvatic, symptomatic, systematic, technocratic, thematic, theocratic, thermostatic, traumatic •anaphylactic, ataractic, autodidactic, chiropractic, climactic, didactic, galactic, lactic, prophylactic, syntactic, tactic •asphaltic •antic, Atlantic, corybantic, frantic, geomantic, gigantic, mantic, necromantic, pedantic, romantic, semantic, sycophantic, transatlantic •synaptic •bombastic, drastic, dynastic, ecclesiastic, elastic, encomiastic, enthusiastic, fantastic, gymnastic, iconoclastic, mastic, monastic, neoplastic, orgastic, orgiastic, pederastic, periphrastic, plastic, pleonastic, sarcastic, scholastic, scholiastic, spastic •matchstick • candlestick • panstick •slapstick • cathartic •Antarctic, arctic, subantarctic, subarctic •Vedantic • yardstick •aesthetic (US esthetic), alphabetic, anaesthetic (US anesthetic), antithetic, apathetic, apologetic, arithmetic, ascetic, athletic, balletic, bathetic, cosmetic, cybernetic, diabetic, dietetic, diuretic, electromagnetic, emetic, energetic, exegetic, frenetic, genetic, Helvetic, hermetic, homiletic, kinetic, magnetic, metic, mimetic, parenthetic, pathetic, peripatetic, phonetic, photosynthetic, poetic, prophetic, prothetic, psychokinetic, splenetic, sympathetic, syncretic, syndetic, synthetic, telekinetic, theoretic, zetetic •apoplectic, catalectic, dialectic, eclectic, hectic •Celtic •authentic, crescentic •aseptic, dyspeptic, epileptic, nympholeptic, peptic, proleptic, sceptic (US skeptic), septic •domestic, majestic •cretic •analytic, anchoritic, anthracitic, arthritic, bauxitic, calcitic, catalytic, critic, cryptanalytic, Cushitic, dendritic, diacritic, dioritic, dolomitic, enclitic, eremitic, hermitic, lignitic, mephitic, paralytic, parasitic, psychoanalytic, pyritic, Sanskritic, saprophytic, Semitic, sybaritic, syenitic, syphilitic, troglodytic •apocalyptic, cryptic, diptych, elliptic, glyptic, styptic, triptych •aoristic, artistic, autistic, cystic, deistic, distich, egoistic, fistic, holistic, juristic, logistic, monistic, mystic, puristic, sadistic, Taoistic, theistic, truistic, veristic •fiddlestick •dipstick, lipstick •impolitic, politic •polyptych • hemistich • heretic •nightstick •abiotic, amniotic, antibiotic, autoerotic, chaotic, demotic, despotic, erotic, exotic, homoerotic, hypnotic, idiotic, macrobiotic, meiotic, narcotic, neurotic, osmotic, patriotic, psychotic, quixotic, robotic, sclerotic, semiotic, symbiotic, zygotic, zymotic •Coptic, optic, panoptic, synoptic •acrostic, agnostic, diagnostic, gnostic, prognostic •knobstick • chopstick • aeronautic •Baltic, basaltic, cobaltic •caustic • swordstick • photic • joystick •psychotherapeutic, therapeutic •acoustic • broomstick • cultic •fustic, rustic •drumstick • gearstick • lunatic

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