Iraq: Three Kings on Coins

Started by <k>, March 06, 2011, 10:10:22 PM

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Faisal king.jpg

King Faisal II.

Faisal initially relied for political advice upon his uncle Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah‎,and General Nuri al-Sa'id, a veteran politician and nationalist who had already served several terms as Prime Minister. As oil revenues increased during the 1950s, the king and his advisers chose to invest their wealth in development projects, which increasingly alienated the rapidly-growing middle class and the peasantry. The Iraqi Communist Party increased its influence. Though the regime seemed secure, intense dissatisfaction with Iraq's condition brewed just below the surface. An ever-widening gap, between the wealth possessed by the political elites, landowners and other supporters of the regime on the one hand, and the poverty of workers and peasants on the other, intensified opposition to Faisal's government. Since the upper classes controlled the parliament, reformists increasingly saw revolution as their sole hope for improvement. The toppling of Egypt's monarchy in 1952 by Gamal Abdel Nasser provided an impetus for a similar undertaking in Iraq.

On February 1, 1958, neighbouring Syria joined with Nasser's Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. This prompted the Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan to strengthen their ties by establishing a similar alliance. Two weeks later, on February 14, this league formally became the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan. Faisal, as the senior member of the Hashemite family, became its head of state.
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Faisal's political situation deteriorated in 1956, with uprisings in the cities of Najaf and Hayy. Meanwhile, Israel's attack on Egypt, coordinated with Britain and France in response to Nasser's nationalisation of the Suez Canal, only exacerbated popular revulsion of the Baghdad Pact - and thus, Faisal's regime. The opposition to Faisal began to coordinate its activities; in February 1957, a "Front of National Union" was established, bringing together the National Democrats, Independents, Communists, and the Ba'th Party. An identical process ensued within the Iraqi officer corps, with the formation of a "Supreme Committee of Free Officers". Faisal's government endeavoured to preserve the military's loyalty through generous benefits, but this proved increasingly ineffective as more and more officers came to sympathise with the nascent anti-monarchist movement.

In the summer of 1958, King Hussein of Jordan asked for Iraqi military assistance during the escalating Lebanon crisis. Units of the Iraqi Army under the command of Abd al-Karim Qasim, en route to Jordan, chose to march on Baghdad instead, where they mounted a coup d'état on 14 July 1958. During the 14 July Revolution, Faisal II ordered the royal guard to offer no resistance, and Faisal himself surrendered to the insurgents. Around 8 am, Captain Abdul Sattar Sabaa Al-Ibousi, leading the revolutionary assault group at the palace, ordered the King, Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah‎, Princess Hiyam ('Abd al-Ilah‎'s wife), Princess Nafeesa ('Abd al-Ilah‎'s mother), Princess Abadiya (Faisal's aunt) and several servants to gather in the palace courtyard. Here, they were told to turn towards the wall, where all were immediately machine-gunned by their captors. Faisal, who had not died during the initial fusillade, was transported to a hospital, but died en-route.

Nuri as-Said, Faisal's Prime Minister, was killed by Qassim's supporters the following day. The monarchy was formally abolished, and control over the country passed to a tripartite "Sovereignty Council," composed of representatives of Iraq's three major ethnic groups. A lengthy period of political instability ensued, culminating in the ultimate triumph in 1963 of the Ba'th Party, which in turn led to the eventual coming to power of Saddam Hussein.
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It is interesting to contrast Faisal with his tougher cousin and contemporary, King Hussein of Jordan. He survived more than one crisis and lived to die a natural death. If Faisal had possessed similar political acumen and survival skills, he too might have lived out his life peacefully. If Hussein had been in Faisal's position, I doubt he would have given himself up to the insurgents without a fight. Ironically, it was Hussein's decision to ask for military help from his cousin that led to Faisal's death. The Hashemite monarchy ended in Iraq with Faisal's death, but in Jordan it lives on successfully under Abdullah II.
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The calligraphy is great - I like the way the dates are arranged in perspective so they appear to fade into the distance.  The squared-off shape of the Arabic "4" in the date on the Faisal II piece is curious, but it fits with the rest of the "modernistic" numerals.


Iraq 50 dinars 1959.jpg

Iraq, 50 dinars, 1959.

Here is a coin showing Abd al-Karim Qasim (1914-1963), the nationalist Iraqi Army general who seized power in the 1958 coup d'état and eliminated the Iraqi monarchy. He ruled the country as Prime Minister of Iraq until he was overthrown by the Ba'athist coup of February 8, 1963. He was given a short trial and was shot dead soon afterwards.
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The Schon world coin catalogue list the large piece with Abd al-Karim Qasim as medallic - with no mention of a denomination...  otherwise very coin-like.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker


You were unable to tell us who designed the Iraq - 1943 - Faisal II - child portrait coins - 4 Fils and 10 Fils - namely the portrait on them.

Nowhere can I find a statement of whicj person or persons designed and/or engraved this, but we can see that they, or at least the main person involved, had the initials "P.B." as signed below the portrait.

The great researcher of British Empire/Commonwealth Fred Pridmore would have been likely to know the answer to this. Perhaps he wrote about this somewhere, but in all the articles of his that the internet would search through for me, I could not find this information.

However I did find details of an important "P.B." at the right mint, Bombay , and at the right time, the 1940s.

An article by Pridmore here....

(It is a small section of the 1968 British Numismatic Journal.)

..includes, on the first page, the following...

>>>>>>Mr. Spencer sailed for India on 24 December 1925, and in India he filled the post of Artist/Engraver at the Calcutta Mint from the 30th January 1926, until he proceeded on leave pending retirement on 12 June 1945. After his departure, Mr. P. W. M. Brindley, formerly the Assistant Artist/Engraver at the Calcutta Mint and who had been appointed to the post of Artist/Engraver at the Bombay Mint in October 1941, continued as Artist/Engraver for both the Bombay and Calcutta mints for the remainder of the British period.<<<<<<

So it would seem most certain that the "P.B.", on the Iraq coins of 1943, which were all made in Bombay , is "Mr. P.W.M. Brindley". Elsewhere on the internet I soon found his first name given as "Patrick". He was involved with some British India coins design and was notably the man behind the designs of the famous Indian pattern set of 1949.

In details given in the Baldwin's auction catalogue of the William Barrett collection, in the write-up to the 1949 Indian pattern set offered, it was said how Brindley had told Barrett some background as to why each of the set's designs had been rejected and therefore not put into use for circulation. Furthermore this meeting was detailed as having been in Ottawa . It would therefore seem safe to suppose that our "P.B." was the Patrick Brindley who in the early 1970s was the chief engraver of the Royal Canadian Mint. The "B" of his surname can be seen on such as the reverses of a few different Canadian commemorative 1 Dollar coins of this period.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker



Canada, $1, 1973.

Excellent research, Paul.

Everything seems to match. PB is no longer a mystery.

Above is one of the Canadian coins that Paul mentioned.

It is the Canadian collector dollar coin of 1973.

It was designed by Paul Cedarberg (PC) and engraved by Patrick Brindley (B).
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Excellent work, Paul! Thanks for posting.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Iraq 20 Fils 1933.jpg

I was very happy to find this coin in a cheap lot on Ebay.  :D

Who knows why?  ;)


It's an error coin ١٢۵٢ (1252) instead of ١٣۵٢ (1352), great find!!



Probably a coin from Iraq. Year is 1931 AD or 1349 AH.