Rare Egypt Fatimid Gold Coin Al-Fa'iz 549-555 AH 1154-1160 AD) Dinar 555 AH / 1160 AD Alexandria Mint Very Fine+
Description: A rare very fine or better gold coin from Al-Faiz or al-Imam 'Isa the Fatimid Khalif or Caliph who ruled the Muslim empire in the period 549-555 AH (1154 - 1160 AD). Al-Fa'iz is the thirteen caliph of the Fatimid dynasty. His full name being, Abu al-Qasim 'Isa al-Fa'iz bi-Nasr Allah. The coin four concentric circles with the name al Imam 'Isa in the center circle and shows the date clearly as 555 AH. The outer margin also shows part of the name of the mint as al-Iskandariya or Alexandria Egypt the well known seaport of the Mediterranean Sea. Please carefully view the scan as it is part and parcel of our description.
Date: The coin shows the date of minting as 555AH (1160 AD). Mint: Al-Iskandaryia current day Alexandria the well known seaport of the Mediterranean Sea.
Size and Weight: This is a dinar, weighs ~4.94 grams and is ~20 mm in diameter.
References: It is Album #741 and is listed in by Nicol as #2671. It is Wilkes 852 and is not listed in Lane Poole's Catalogue of Arabic Coins Preserved in The Khedivial Library in Cairo, Egypt.
Condition: I would grade this coin as very fine or better. The coin has a nice centered strike and is just beautiful. The coin has relatively distinct and fairly readable calligraphy and is problem free. The coin has some encrusted residue on the reverse, which can be seen in the photos. Be that as it may, the coin is much better than the scan shows with very nice eye appeal. A definite quality and rare coin. Please see photos for additional condition information.
Historic Perspective: The Fatimid Caliphate is a Shi'a dynasty that ruled over the Islamic world of mostly North Africa from 5 January 910 to 1171. The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch of Shi'ism. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by most Muslims, the only period in which the Shia Imamate and the Caliphate were united to any degree, excepting the Caliphate of Ali himself. The Fatimids were reputed to exercise a degree of religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews and Coptic Christians.
The Fatimids had their origins in Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia and eastern Algeria) but after the conquest of Egypt about 970 AD, they built the City of Cairo and used it as their Capital. Abu Ali Al-Mansur Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah reigned in the period of 386-411 AH. His rule was rather capricious punctuated by intermittent periods of persecution of the Christians and the prohibition of Mulkhia, a favorite green soup of the Egyptian populace. He disappeared on 27 Shawwal 411AH or 13 February 1021 and was never found again. It is not certain what happened to him. The dynasty was founded in 296 AH (909 AD) by Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, who legitimized his claim through descent from Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatima as-Zahra and her husband Ali ibn-Abi-Talib, the first Shi'a Imam, hence the name al-Fatimiyyen "Fatimid". Abdullah al-Mahdi's control soon extended over all of central Maghreb, an area consisting of the modern countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, which he ruled from Mahdia, his newly-built capital in Tunisia. The Fatimids (Abu Tamim Ma'add al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah) entered Egypt in 358 AH (969AD) , conquering the Ikhshidid dynasty. Eventually they founded a new capital at al Qahirah "The Subduer" (modern Cairo) - a reference to the appearance of the planet Mars. They continued to conquer the surrounding areas until they ruled from Tunisia to Syria and even crossed over into Sicily and southern Italy. Under the Fatimids, Egypt became the center of an empire that included at its peak North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Yemen and the Hejaz.
Under the Fatimids, Egypt flourished and developed an extensive trade network in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean (establishing trade and diplomatic ties all the way to China under the Song Dynasty), which eventually determined the economic course of Egypt during the High Middle Ages. After the decay of the Fatimid political system in the 1160s, the Zengid ruler Nur ad-Din had his general, Saladin, seize Egypt in 1169, forming the Sunni Ayyubid Dynasty.