A specialized collection of Ottoman coinage composes auction No.
199 from German firm Fritz Rudolph Künker.
The Dec. 12 auction of part one of the Sultan Collection of Coins
of the Ottoman Empire features 908 lots. The collection, built over 30
years of collecting, reflects the history of coins of the last six
Ottoman sultans, continuing beyond the monetary reform of 1845 through
the early 20th century.
One highlight from the auction is the A.H. 1255 (A.D. 1845) gold
500-kurush coin struck in Constantinople. The coin, cataloged as
Friedberg 16 in Gold Coins of the World by Arthur L. and Ira
S. Friedberg, is in Uncirculated condition and has an estimate of
€5,000 ($6,707 in U.S. funds).
The Ottoman Empire, one of the largest and longest-lasting empires
in the world, was at the center of interactions between the Eastern
and Western worlds for more than 600 years. However, several setbacks
during its last 90 years or so vexed the leadership despite efforts at
Western reform, and finally in late 1918 it dissolved.
When Abdülmecid I took office July 1, 1839, his father, Mahmud II,
had already laid a foundation for modernization with legal and
military reforms; his son had only to implement the reforms. In
addition to reorganizing the army, introducing a new civil code and
penal law, among other reforms, was a financial reform to counter a
steadily declining currency.
As late as the reign of Mahmud II the Ottoman Empire had no common
currency, and foreign coins and paper money (including the Austrian
Maria Theresa taler) dominated daily life. “The system was complicated
but well-practised,” according to the auction house, and
money-changers made good business.
As a first step toward getting the population used to a common
currency, officials issued 500-piaster and 1,000-piaster state
debentures, a form of paper money returning annual interest of 12.5 percent,
The empire then adopted a monetary reform based on the French
model and the Latin Monetary Union, introducing a bimetallic system of
gold and silver coins. Among the coins introduced was a gold
100-kurush piece of 100 piaster, known as the livre turque, and the
silver medschidije. Fractional silver and copper coins were also part
of the system. The coins were produced by French and English minting
technicians in a new mint, operated by steam power and equipped with
English machines, that had been built below the Topkapi Palace in
The new stable currency eased trade with and expanded credit for
the Ottoman Empire, and while trade flourished, debt increased and in
1881 the empire was forced to form a state agency to handle its debt .
The complete catalog may be viewed online through the firm’s
website, www.kuenker.de, or
All successful lots are subject to a 15 percent buyer’s fee.
For more information, email the business at email@example.com or telephone
it at (011) 49 541 96 20. ■