World Coins

Saudi Arabian refinery on privately engraved riyal

A custom-engraved silver riyal from Saudi Arabia depicts the nation’s oil refinery plant. The piece of numismatic folk art has an estimate of $150 in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ Jan. 18 to 20 auction.

Images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

An engraved Saudi Arabian silver coin from the mid-20th century is a piece of numismatic folk art.

The coin, which features a engraving on the reverse side, is one of many lots being offered in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ auction No. 30, scheduled for Jan. 18 to 20 in Santa Rosa, California. 

The silver riyal is of the type issued from 1935 to 1950, during the reign of Abd al-’Aziz b. Sa’ud, and was struck in Makka al-Mukarraman (Mecca). It is cataloged as Krause-Mishler 18 in the Standard Catalog of World Coins by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler.

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The obverse is standard, but the customized reverse makes the piece intriguing.

The reverse was re-engraved by an artist or engraver to portray an oil refinery, with SARP above (referencing the Saudi Arabian Refinery Plant), and the date 1364 / 1945 below, and is pierced at the top for suspension.

“American oil workers stationed in Saudi Arabia from the 1940s to at least the 1970s often had a local engraver redesign one side of a silver coin, most commonly the riyal,” according to the auction house.

This piece is among those altered coins, and was created as, likely, a commemorative of time there or a good luck piece. 

The auction house grades this example About Uncirculated. 

The engraved piece has an estimate of $150.

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