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Fessel bin Turkee Quarter Annas or Baisa

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by Phil Iddison

In 1889 / 1306-7 the Bombay mint ceased production of all copper coin, which was struck only in Calcutta for the remainder of the 19th century. This interrupted the flow of copper coins to Oman, causing a shortage of coin which resulted in much local hardship. This matter was taken in hand by Sultan Faisal bin Turki (1305-1331 / 1887-1913) who resolved to meet his peoples' needs by striking his own coins bearing the mint name Muscat.

The mint was located in the government area of Muscat, across from the former Sharia court in the building which also housed the Passport Office. The mint machinery must have been quite simple, because the refining of the metal and the preparation of the blanks was carried out elsewhere. The Birmingham Mint is known to have sold blanks to Muscat for its coinage in 1316, but the most likely source for the earlier years is India. The dies themselves may also have been of Indian manufacture, because several princely states operated their own mints at the time. The coinage press, probably purchased from England, was thus the principal piece of equipment, and when fully operational would have been able to strike between one and two pieces per second.

The first coinage appeared with the date 1311 (1893-4), and consisted of two denominations, the baisa or quarter anna, and the ghazi (12th anna or one pice). The obverse of both pieces bore the date, the name of the ruler and the denomination: 1311al-Sultan Faysal bin Turki bin Said bin Sultan Imam Musqat wa Uman baiza / ghazi. The reverse carried a representation of Fort Jalali on the upper left, below were two vessels, palm trees and the palace and ¼ or 1/12 ANNA in English, surrounded in the margin by the English inscription Sultan Fessel bin Toorky 1311 Imaum of Muscat and Oman. Both denominations are very rare and very seldom found in excellent condition. The ghazi was only struck in 1311, probably because it did not become popular enough to justify the diversion of the mint producing baisa.

The second coinage type was introduced in 1312 and continued in 1313, 1314 and early 1315. The obverse carried the ruler's name reading upwards Faysal bin / Turki bin sa'id / bin Sultan / Imam Musqat wa Uman. The reverse field gave the name of the denomination in English: ¼ ANNA and the mint and date in Arabic: 1312 duriba fi / Musqat, while the margin bore the English legend: Fessul bin Turkee Imam of Muscat and Oman. There were many different dies of varying standards of excellence known for this coinage.

Three orders were placed for baisa coins (1/4 anna) dated 1315 from E.W. Carling & Co of London in 1898. The obverse of these coins contained a shorter legend: Faysal bin / Turki / Sultan / Uman while the reverse was the same as previous issues 1315 duriba fi / Musqat, while the margin bore the English legend: Fessul bin Turkee Imam of Muscat and Oman. The first order of 2, 187, 000 pieces specified that each coin should weigh 89.6 grains or 5.81g; the second order of 2,780,000 pieces 85.7 grains or 5.55g; and the third order (first part) of 6,208,000 pieces, 80.8 grains or 5.24 g. During the third order the agent changed the weight in mid production causing manufacture to be extended into 1899, thus the third order (second part) of 1,930,000 pieces weighed 81.2 grains or 5.26 g. 595,585 pieces each weighing 98.5 grains or 5.80 g were struck in 1316. This is the last known date for this coinage, and the mint closed after the last blanks had been converted into coin.

As the coins were widely used until the early 1940s, most of the coins available in souks and antique shops are very worn.


Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan