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.