Afghanistan - Rupee - Birmingham Mint (Heaton's) - 1886/1304
Krause says these were made by Heaton's as patterns?
Anyone know more?
Were they genuine patterns or clandestine (made without authority) coins?
Congratulations! A major find, andyg. From A Numismatic History of the Birmingham Mint by James O. Sweeny (ISBN 0-950794-0-6), pag. 89:
(picture of coin, looking exactly like yours added)
When the Amir of Afghanistan decided in the 1890s to establish a moern minting facility at Kabul, The Birmingham Mint apparently made a bid for the equipment order, and in the process produced a sample to demonstrate their capabilities. It is a machine-struck near-duplicate of the hand-made rupees of the period (Craig No. 977).
No mintmark, mintage unknown.
Somewhere between a salesman's sample and a pattern, I'd say, but a highly interesting piece of real history in any case.
Dear andyg, your coin details:
Afghanistan (Barakzai Dynasty), 'Abd al-Rahman Khan, AH 1304/1886 AD, AR Rupee, dar al-Sultanat Kabul mint (AH 1297-1319/ 1880 – 1901 AD)
Obverse (First photo): inside a machine-struck decorated circle:
أمير عبد الرحمن ۱۳۰۴ , Emir Abdur Rahman, with date written at the bottom left side at 7 O'clock (1304).
Reverse (Second photo): inside a machine-struck decorated circle:
ضرب دار السلطنه كابل ۱۳۰۴ , Zarb dar al-Sultanat Kabul with date written at the top left side at 11 O'clock (1304).
Abd al-Rahman Khan (عبدالرحمن خان), was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. He is known for uniting the country after years of internal fighting and negotiation of the Durand Line Agreement with British India.
Thanks Maythem, the calligraphy is very clear - but I think the hand struck coins are nicer :)
I also think they were confused by the numerals on the second picture - it almost looks like 1404.
Peter - these don't seem to be that uncommon, I wonder how many thousands were made?
If Sweeny, who had full access to the Heaton archives, didn't find the mintage, you have little hope of finding it.
The coins were a by-product of the tender for the minting machinery, which was in fact at least as important, but likely a more important product than coins for Heaton. I suppose they had a mint press running in demonstrations for the Afghan powers that be and these coins came out. There's no way to know how many demos there were and how long a typical run was. No problem if everyone nicked a handful; they were easily distinguished from the coins in circulation. This would easily explain an a-typical survival rate, so the mintage wouldn't even have helped you much.
What the Heaton people were hoping for is that the Afghans would react like "Ah, yes, these are much better struck". However, I suspect that among those demo onlookers were quite a few hyper-conservatives, who would have looked at them with disdain, put their teeth in them and criticised them for every detail that was new to them, like the raised edge or the perfect roundness (only Allah is perfect!).
It must have been an amusing scene if you were not of those two parties. Kipling comes to mind "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet". Until WoC comes about, he should have added. :)
Keep in mind, that if the Afghans had ordered the machines and added a batch of coins or bought the dies, these would have been perfectly good circulation coins (and an ingenuous bribe for those who'd taken an advance delivery during the demos), so in my mind, that gives them some of the status of patterns. At the same time, they were meant as salesman's samples, while patterns are not. That's like the Berlin mint salesman's samples for uncle Paul Kruger that were dispersed among his followers, so they have the same status. Yet they are considered pattern coins. Apparently, the length of the run has little influence on their status in the minds of collectors and cataloguers alike.