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ANSMN 26 (1981)
(g) 1981 The American Numismatic Socieyt


Michael L. Bates

(Plate 32)

The conquest of Oran by the Spanish in 1509, and of Algiers by the

Ottomans in 1516, left the Ziynid rulers of Tilimsn (modern Tlemcen,
in northwestern Algeria) at the mercy of the two major powers. During
the next 42 years, six Ziynids succeeded one another as nominal rulers,

dependent in fact on Spain or the Turks. In 964 H./A.D. 1556 the

pretense of Ziynid sovereignty was abandoned by the Ottomans, who
installed a governor in Tilimsn. There followed a series of remarkable
gold coins, until after 1012/1603, struck in the names of the Ottoman
sultans but quite different from ordinary Ottoman coinage.
Recently Henri Arroyo published an excellent study of these issues,1
but unfortunately his information on the examples in the American
Numismatic Society, provided to him long ago by the present author,
is not completely accurate.2 The ANS has two important Ottoman coins
1 H. Arroyo, "The Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn," Oriental Numismatic Society
Occasional Paper no. 12 (January 1979).

2 Mr. Arroyo wrote to me in 1971 and again in 1972, asking for information on
Tilimsn Ottoman coins in the ANS and enclosing photographs of his coin of Muhammad III. The information sent to him was derived from the attributions of my
predecessors E. T. Newell, Howland Wood, and George C. Miles. At that time, being
new to the Society's staff and to Islamic numismatics, I was unable to help Arroyo
with certain difficult inscriptions on the coins, other than to share his doubts about
previous readings. I did not then know of two Tilimsn coins of Sulaymn Qnn in
the ANS cabinet, and since Arroyo did not suspect their existence, he could not ask
me about them. Later, in 1974, Robert Doran wrote me with some very specific
questions about the legends of the Sulaymn coins, which he had seen on a previous
visit. That letter and subsequent correspondence resulted in my deciphering, with
the help of Miles, the inscriptions on all the ANS pieces. Unfortunately, by this time
Arroyo's inquiry had been forgotten, so that I neglected to inform him of the new
discoveries. Mr. Doran was to have published the results in a projected general survey
of Ottoman coinage, but this work has been long delayed.

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204 Michael II,. Bates

of Tilimsn not known to Arroyo; furthermore, after the information was

sent to him, all the ANS coins were more accurately attributed, and their

legends fully read. Some other additions to Arroyo's corpus may also be

made. It therefore seems appropriate to restudy the corpus, while

acknowledging an indebtedness to Arroyo's useful work.

The coins to be described are all of gold, perhaps somewhat debased,

and all have horizontal field inscriptions enclosed in a double square,
which is in turn surrounded by a circle touching the square at the corners

and an outer circle of dots. The sectors between the circle and square
contain the mint and date. This general design was introduced in the
twelfth century by the Muwahhids and was standard for all Maghrib gold

coinage until the seventeenth century. When the Ottomans took Algiers,

they replaced its former coinage with standard Ottoman issues, but at
Tilimsn the coinage maintained Ziynid precedents. This may reflect
a difference in the administrative status of the two places, but the nature
of Ottoman rule at Tilimsn does not seem to have been studied.

SULAYMN I, 926-74/1520-66
The earliest coins of Tilimsn with an Ottoman connection are two

issues attributed by Hazard3 to Ziynid puppets, but acknowledging

the Ottoman Sulaymn I Qnn. It is questionable, however, whether

the Sulaymn named on the coins is really the Ottoman, and other
scholars have assigned these issues to an earlier date. As Arroyo suggests,
the attribution is at best tentative; these issues will not be considered

There are two coins of the Ottoman Sulaymn from Tilimsn in the

American Numismatic Society, hitherto unpublished. These should

probably be assigned to the period following the appointment of an
Ottoman governor in 964/1556 and before Sulaymn's death in 974/

3 Harry W. Hazard, The Numismatic History of Late Medieval North Africa ,

ANSNS 8 (New York, 1952), pp. 190-91, nos. 670-71.

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Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn 205

1. Date?

Obv. : Reu . :


^J!j y*. JI
O L* I (3
^lj 0*3J j-crn ^

Margin: Margin:

4j J ? j ? . ? *UJ I ) L*oJ J XftJ * " * I

ANS, Newell, 19 17;4 4.290 g, 32 mm; Plate 32, 1.

The inscriptions in the field of this coin are taken from the regular

gold coinage of Sulayman, except for the addition of the words waamrahu , "and his command," on the obverse. The date 926 in ciphers in
the obverse field is probably not the actual date of issue, but rather
Sulayman's accession date, as on his regular issues. The date in words in
the margin may also be 926, but only the century is clear. The visible
traces of the decade would also permit sittn or sab'n , sixty or seventy.
If so, this would be the true date of issue. The honorific al-mahrsa, "the

guarded (by God)," after the mint name reflects Ottoman practice at
some mints, but may be compared to the Ziyanid phrase harasah Allh ,

"may God guard it," which often follows mint names. To generalize, it
appears that the authority who determined the legends of this coin knew

something of Ottoman practice, but the peculiar epigraphic style and the

general design of the coin indicate that the die engraver had been an
employee of the Ziyanid mint.

4 All the ANS coins are from the E. T. Newell collection and were purchased by
him in Algiers.

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206 Michael L. Bates

2. Date effaced.

Obu. : Rev . :

(jLJu* pli?! dlLJ I

^3 (^AJI
** 4jJ

^cJlj ^JI J <x -j

Margin: Margin:
. . . . d ^ .... .... . . . . * I

ANS, Newell, 1917, 2.103 g, 26 mm; Plate 32, 2.

Since the marginal legends are almost completely effaced, this coin is
attributed to Tilimsn only on the basis of its style, which is distinctive

enough to leave no room for doubt. It seems likely, because of its

features in common with the coins to follow, that this issue came after

no. 1. The reverse field legend may be translated "Praise to the King
who is worshipped, whose benevolence is everlasting, and whoever relies
on Him will be happy." Such a long religious inscription is unparalleled
on Ottoman coinage (except at Tilimsn), but long and greatly varied
religious statements are a common feature of the coinage of the Ziynids
and other Maghribi dynasties from the time of the Muwahhids. This one

however is still more remarkable because it is in saj' rhymed prose:

al-ma'bd , maivjd, mas'd. Rhymed prose, a succession of short
phrases ending in the same final syllable, is common in late Arabic
literature, but is seldom seen on coins.5 It is indeed the recognition that
these inscriptions are rhymed that enables and confirms their decipherment on this coin and on the ones to follow. It is doubtful whether the

inscription on this coin has any particular significance except as a banal

expression of piety; one can even say that it exemplifies the straining of
sense for the benefit of rhyme which is an all too common defect of saj'
5 An early example of the use of saje is the first issue of the Fatimid al-Mu'izz,
struck 341-43/953-55, e.g. George G. Miles, Fatimid Coins, ANSNNM 121 (New York,
1951), no. 48. Rhyming titles are fairly common, as, obviously, the Ottoman title
Sultn al-barrayn wa-khqn al-bahrayn, a double rhyme.

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Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn 207

SALIM II, 974-82/1566-74

3. 974 H.

Obv . : Rev. :

I t. ^ L*


I aiCU 88 AJJI
Margin: Margin:

I i v i I j*3-> I I j"**' o***- 1

O ^ J Sj***.uJ j I m |
Istanbul Arkeoloji Miizeleri, 4.20 g, 32 mm. Halil Edhem, Muze-i Humyn : Maskkt-i qadme islmiyeh qatalgh , 6: Maskkt-i f usmni yeh , 1 (Constantinople, 1334/1915-16), no. 1109, pl. 9; Remzi Kocaer,
Osmanli Altinlan (Istanbul, 1967), no. 88; Ibrahim and Cevriye Artuk,
Istanbul Arkeoloji Mixzerleri Teshirdeki slaml Sikkeler Katalogu , 2
(Istanbul, 1974), no. 1602, pl. 68.
As Arroyo recognized, the three authors refer to one and the same
coin. The second word of the second line of the obverse is very casually
inscribed. The three authors cited transcribe it smn , without suggesting what this might mean. Arroyo tentatively suggests rather khqn ,
one of the titles of the sultan, but this does not seem to fit grammatically

either with what precedes or with what follows (in either context, it
should have the definite article). A more plausible reading is al-imn ,
which fits with the preceding words. "Lord of (divine) assistance and
justice and faith." Moreover, it rhymes with the last word of the obverse
field, "Sulaymn."
The words "fifteen qrts (carats)" in the obverse margin are not easy
to understand. If they refer to the weight of the coin, one obtains the
value 4.20 -- 15 = 0.28 g for the weight of one qrt, which is rather high.

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208 Michael L. Bates

Possibly they refer to the fineness of the coin, that is 15/24 gold, or to the

weight of gold in it as opposed to its total weight. The phrase is unparalleled on Islamic coins.

The reverse field legend, which occurs also on the coins that follow,
may be translated "Ruler of the two lands and the two seas and Syria and

the two Iraqs, may God preserve his rule." This is a conflation of several

titular elements often seen on standard Ottoman coins. Al-f Irqayn ,

"the two Iraqs," probably refers to medieval al-fIrq, the southern part
of Mesopotamia, and al-JazIra, the northern part. The two were considered separate provinces until modern times, but the use of the term here
is probably for no other reason than to make the rhyme with al-barrayn
wa'l-bahrayn. It must have been frustrating for the die cutter that there
was no possible justification for al-shmayn , "the two Syrias." The last
line of the reverse is interrupted in the middle by a knotted ornament.
Different ornaments will be seen on the subsequent coins in the same
position, probably without any significance.

MURD III, 982-1003/1574-95

Arroyo lists a coin of Murd III with the date 978, citing Schaendlinger, but this must be a typographical error. The date is before Murd's

reign, and the only Tilimsn coin mentioned by Schaendlinger is dated

by him to 988 (below, no. 4e).
4. 983 H.
Obv. : Rev. :


o I iAIa. jo? ^

pL olkLJI *5CL -OJI

Margin: Margin:

< J j J j

J 4*1 I UahOJ J J AX*#

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Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn 209

a. National Museum, Copenhagen, 3.52 g, 30 mm, Plate 32, 4a: Stanley

Lane-Poole, "The Oriental Cabinet at Copenhagen," NC 1876, p. 271,
no. 5; J. 0strup, Catalogue des monnaies arabes et turques du Cabinet

Royal des Mdailles du Muse National de Copenhague (Copenhagen,

1938), p. 295, no. 2545.

b. British Museum, 4.260 g, 32 mm: Stanley Lane-Poole, Catalogue

of Oriental Coins in the British Museum , 8: The Coins of the
Turks . . . , Class XXVI (London, 1883), p. 97, no. 256, pl. 4.
c. State Historical Museum, Moscow, no. 41 A, 4.160 g, 34 mm: Ciineyt
ler, Sovyet Rusya Miizelerindeki (Moskova ve Leningrad ) Nadir

Osmanli Madeni Paralan (Istanbul, 1972), p. 7, no. 2.

d. State Historical Museum, Moscow, no. 41B, 2.100 g, 25.6 mm:
ler, p. 8, no. 3.

e. Mnchen Staatliche Mnzsammlung, 4.27 g, 35 mm: Anton C.

Schaendlinger, Osmanische Numismatik (Braunschweig, 1973), pl. 2,
no. 30; see also pp. 71, 103.
f. Sotheby, 23 April 1980, no. 158; last segment of reverse margin has
Madnat Tilimsn .

The date of this issue has also been read 988 H. Lane-Poole read the

date of the Copenhagen coin as 983. When he saw it, it was in a private

collection in Copenhagen, but in the same year his article appeared or

the following year, the National Museum cabinet acquired a Tilimsn
coin from a Danish collector, Nielsen.6 This must be the same coin, al-

though it was read 988 by Ostrup. Lane-Poole also dated the BM

Tilimsn coin 988, but the date on it is partially effaced. Comparison of
it with the Copenhagen specimen suggests strongly that the date is the
same on both. The Munich coin, dated 988 by Schaendlinger, is similar to

the other two. The date can be seen clearly only on the Copenhagen and

Sotheby examples, and 983 is evidently preferable on both despite the

barbarity of the script.

6 Information provided by Anne Kromann, Assistant Keeper in the Royal Coin

Cabinet. I am grateful to her and to Otto Morkholm for providing me with a photograph of the coin.

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210 Michael L. Bates

The obverse field inscription of MurcTs Tilimsan issues is not easy to

decipher. The second word of obverse line 2 is especially problematic.

In the earliest publications, al-mu'ayyad and al-mu'min were read, but
Lane-Poole, in 1883, suggested al-mustaqm , which has since been accepted. It would, however, be better to read al-muqm. On the coin, the
mlm and qf are linked by a smooth line; Arabic orthography would
permit the letter sn to be represented by such a line, but if the word
is al-mustaqm, there ought to be a tooth for the letter i' Either word
would be suitable in the context: al-muqm means "permanent, enduring,
while al-mustaqm means "straightforward, upright." Note the rhyme
of al-muqm with Salim.
5. 989 H.

Described as similar to no. 6 below, of 995 H.

Soret collection: F. Soret, "Lettre ... de Dorn. Troisime lettre sur les
mdailles orientales indites de la collection de M. F. Soret, " RNB 1856,

p. 172, no. 177.

6. 995 H.

Obu.: As no. 4. Rev.: As no. 4, but symbol Y

in line 4.

Margin: Margin:

A. ii LjU*Jj I dfr le- ii f 0jJU*J, J 6|ft Ix-

a. Soret collection: Soret, RNB 1856. p. 172, no. 178, pl. 2, no. 16.

b. Arroyo collection: Michael Mitchiner, Oriental Coins and Their

Values: the World of Islam (London, 1977), p. 207, no. 1261, illus.;
Arroyo, p. 3, fig. 2.
c. ANS, Newell, 1917, 4.140 g, 35 mm; Plate 32, 6c; symbol V
d. ANS, Newell, 1917, 4.132 g, 33 mm; Plate 32, 6d; same reverse die as c.
e. Sotheby, 23 April 1980, no. 159; symbol t .
This issue bears no mint name, but is confidently attributed by its
resemblance to no. 4 above. The word sana , "year," is replaced by its
synonym rm, a common feature of North African coins.

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Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn 211

Mller published one other Tilimsn dinar of Murd III in 1831. 7

Since the marginal legends were effaced, it cannot be assigned to any of
the issues listed above. Judging by Mller's description, the word alsultn in the middle of the obverse field was omitted, but this may be

only his mistake.

MUHAMMAD III, 1003-12/1595-1603

7. 1003 H.

Obu.: Rev.: As no. 4, but symbol Y

I in line 4.

)J' Vij
Lfe^cJ I

(jlkLJ 1

1^ IkLJI
Margin: Margin:
cJL) I j I J j-c. cJ l J le- 1 I 'j I J I oU I J le. I

a. Arroyo collection: Mitchiner, p. 207, no. 1266; Arroyo, pp. 3-4,

fig. 3.

b. ANS, Newell, 1917, 4.205 g, 33 mm, Plate 32, 7b; symbol Y.

c. Sotheby, 23 April 1980, no. 160; symbol . Digit tt on obverse.
d. Sotheby, 23 April 1980, no. 161. Same dies as b.
The marginal inscriptions of Arroyo's coin are mostly effaced. The
issue is therefore dated by the ANS coin, which was originally assigned to

1013 H., probably because the word in the bottom segment was first read

eashr, "ten." Although the word is clearly fWM, especially on the obverse, one can understand how it could be misread, for in standard

7 J. H. Mller, De numis orientalibus in numophylacio gothano asservatis commentano altera (Erfurt and Gotha, 1831), pp. 53-54, nos. 565-66.

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212 Michael L. Bates

Arabic it has only one meaning, "swimming," which makes no sense on a

coin. In fact, it is probably to be understood here as a plural of the

word em, "year." The normal plural of fm is aewm ; fWM on this coin

may be either a mispelling, with the two alifs omitted, or a dialectical

variant. This is not the only barbarism of the date inscription. The
number three is clearly written on the obverse tlit, with two points over

the first and last letters. In standard Arabic, these letters should be

tha' with a triangle of three points over each, but spoken Arabic commonly changes the difficult th sound to /, a pronounciation no doubt
represented here. Furthermore, tlit or thlith is not literally "three,"
but rather "third." On the reverse, the word is even more distorted, appearing as tt with the lm omitted. In sum, the date legend is to be read

literally "year third year and a thousand," a construction as barbarous in

Arabic as in English.
The honorific on the obverse may be translated "The lord of help to
victory and help to good fortune, who makes the jihd a duty, the Sultan

Muhammad son of the Sultan Murd." Note again the rhyme of is'd ,

jihd , and Murd.

AHMAD I, 1012-26/1603-17
A Tilimsn coin of Ahmad I was published a century and a half ago,
but it has until now not been recognized as such. It was described by
Mller in 1831, with the attribution "Africani incerti." Soon afterward,

Soret suggested its attribution to an unknown Sharif of Morocco.8

Mller's reading of the legends is quite inaccurate, but his transcription
of the reverse field inscription is sufficient to identify the coin as an
Ottoman Tilimsn issue, and it is unlikely that he was wrong in reading
the name Ahmad b. al-Sultn Muhammad on the obverse. The attri-

bution to Ahmad I is in any case confirmed by the recent discovery of a

second Tilimsn coin of Ahmad, which also enables the correct decipherment of Mller's transcription of the inscriptions of his coin.

8 Mller (above, n. 7), p. 54, no. 567; Soret, RBN 1856, p. 172.

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Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn 213

8. Date illegible.
Obv. : Rev. :


I ^ * ^ .3

(?) Jj| -Ol. jljjUJIj


Ju^ jlkLJI
Margin: effaced. Margin: effaced.
Mller, p. 54, no. 567 = Soret, RBN 1856, p. 172.
The inscriptions are given here as transcribed by Mller, but with the

help of the coin to be described next, there is little difficulty in recon-

structing the actual text. The reverse field is easily recognizable as

the standard reverse of Ahmad's predecessors. The reading al-maghrba
for al-'iraqayn was usual in descriptions of Tilimsn coins until it was
corrected by Lane-Poole. For the first two lines of the obverse, see the
reverse of the coin next to be described. The third line, transliterated

"Abu'1-tas (?)" by Mller, is a surprise. Sores suggestion Abu'lFris is still unsatisfactory. Neither of these was Ahmad's kunya , and
indeed the Ottoman Sultans never used their kunyas on coins (although
Maghrib rulers often did). One must assume that the word on the third
line was al-sultn, but perhaps so mangled by the die engraver as to
make it incomprehensible to Mller.
9. 1012 H.?
Obv. : Rev. :

UaJuJI j,n :,) I (JjjJI

{ji I I
Margin: Margin:

I I I * * ' I f ^ I I ui-H I I I U

Album collection; 2.068 g, 26 mm; Plate 32, 9.9

9 I am grateful to Stephen Album for allowing me to study and publish this coin.

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214 Michael L. Bates

The engraving of this coin, the latest of the series, is worse than any so

far described. In particular, the marginal legends must be mostly inferred rather than read. em and alf are perhaps clear enough, at least
in the light of the coins previously described; it may be presumed that the

rest of the date was ithn f ashr , assuming the coin to bear the date of
Ahmad's accession. The obverse field inscription presents no difficulty.
The reverse inscription corresponds to the first two lines of the obverse

field inscription on Mller's coin. The second word, following shib , is

easily read as al-radl ; Molles reading al-'abd is an error common to all
early nineteenth-century descriptions of Tilimsn coins. The third word
is more problematic. Mller's reading al-nafar is understandable from
the ductus of the letters, but impossible in meaning. A nafar is a person,
individual, in a very mundane abstract sense. For example, in modern

military usage, it means simply "a soldier" or even specifically "a

private," the lowest military rank. Besides, the absence of the conjunction ww, "and," after al-' adi indicates that the following word must

be an adjective describing al-eadl , not a substantive noun. One may

rather suggest al-nadir, "brilliant, radiant," an adjective related to the
noun al-nadr that appears on the first coin described above. Nadr
means "pure gold or silver," but only because these metals are brilliant
and shining. The fourth word, al-murayyad9 "assured, confirmed," is
obvious. The title in full may therefore be translated "Lord of radiant

assured justice." Note, finally, that there is once again a triple rhyme,
al-mayyad , Ahmad , Muhammad .

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Plate 32

Ottoman Coinage of Tilimsn

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