When Y.T. Nercessian published Armenian Coins and Their Values in 1995 he included several new types of Cilician Armenian coins unlisted by Bedoukian. Among them, he reported two takvorins of Levon IV (1320-1344 A.D) bearing six-pointed star countermarks but did not provide an attribution for the origin of these. At least one of these takvorins was sold as part of the famed CNG auction of the Araratian Collection. However, the catalogue incorrectly identified the countermark as an unidentified countermark, usually found on Egyptian copper. Some newly noticed evidence suggest that these are not Egyptian countermarks, but actually countermarks from the earliest period of independence of the Beys of Alaiye [Alanya, Antalya].
The city of Alaiye and the surrounding area remained a part of the Byzantine Empire despite Arab advances due to the protection offered by the terrain. This area eventually fell to the ambitious Seljuqs of Rum, who were intent on acquiring a seaport. Eventually the city became their winter palace and a Seljuq mint operated here. With the coming of Mongols, this region became contested between the Seljuqs, Mongols, and local Turkic tribes, changing hands numerous times. There do exist some coins here with the names of Ilkhanids from the early part of the 14th century. These are believed to have been issued by the local Turkish Beys as a sign of vassalage to the Mongols. Later Alaiye was part of the Beylik principality of Karaman, one of numerous Turkic Beylik principalities that came into the scene with the decline and fall of the realm of the Seljuqs of Rum. Eventually, Alaiye too became an independent principality.
With independence came the right of coinage. In the very beginning, the Beys of Alaiye did not issue coins, but countermarked coins that circulated locally. They have been countermarked on Seljuq of Rum, Ilkhanid, and now Cilician Armenian hosts to name a few known examples. The earliest countermarks were the Arabic words Alaiye and Beha (value) on hosts to name a few. Besides words, there are also more interesting countermarks. These are an equestrian horseman and six-pointed star, otherwise known as a Solomon's seal. We know these are countermarks of the Beys of Alaiye because these countermarks usually appear with the countermarked Arabic word Alaiye, indicating the issuers as the Beys of Alaiye. These countermaks are dated from the 14th century.
As mentioned earlier, the countermarks on the two takvorins were six pointed stars, or Solomon's seals. This is actually a good luck omen in Islamic culture and is seen on a variety of coins from different periods and dynasties. Later, the six-pointed star becomes the symbol of state of the principality of Alaiye and is seen on much of the realm's later coinage.
AN EXAMPLE OF AN AR COIN OF ALAIYE SHOWING THE SOLOMON'S SEAL AS A SYMBOL OF STATE. THIS COIN HAS BEEN STRUCK IN THE NAME OF THE MAMLUK SULTAN AL-ASHRAF SAYF AL-DIN BARSBAY (825-841AH). Weight, g: 0.7 / Size, mm: 16.7 / Mint: Alaiye(Modern Alanya/Antalya). VERY RARE
The two takvorins reported by Nercessian #457 and 458 of Armenian Coins and Their Values appear to have slightly different countermarks, as portrayed by these drawings. Grey represents the neutral boundaries of the coin, the white raised points, and black depressed points as a result of the countermark.
In conclusion, these two coins came from the collection the same individual, indicating these might have been together since they were countermarked over 500 years ago. Despite the fact that the two Armenian takvorins bear countermarks from different dies, it does not appear that these rulers had a preference for countermarking Armenian coins. Rather, these takvorins were among Ilkhanid, Seljuq of Rum, and perhaps other coins that circulated locally, and happened to come into the hands of these rulers. This also brings up a point as to how Armenian coins circulated in the Seljuq realm, and the Beys that followed. While Cilician Armenian currency was dominant from the boundaries of the kingdom to Mamluk Egypt, very little is known of Armenian coins circulating in parts of Anatolia. These coins certainly show at least some penetration of Armenian currency into Beylik realms westward.
However, there are some strong flaws in the attribution pointed out by a later converstion with Mr. Nercessian. He suggested that there is a one hundred year lapse between the use of the countermark and start of dated coins of Alaiye showing Solomon's seal as seal of state. Though this might have been explained, other facts pointed to my suspicion. On further reviewing the information regarding this all other similiar C/M's of horseman and Solomon's seal I have seen, there is a brockage impression, but our there is no brockage impression on the other side of the C/M on our takvorins. See this example:
AN EXAMPLE OF AN AR MAMLUK DIRHAM SHOWING A HORSEMAN COUNTERMARK, LEAVING A BROCKAGE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE STRIKE . Weight, g: 1.6 / Size, mm: 24 Mint: NM. VERY RARE
Despite of a very strong questioning of the attribution even of the author, a reference ot similarities of Alaiye countermarks should be kept in mind. Nercessian suggests that at this later period of the kingdom, takvorins left the country as quickly as they were produced for tribute to the Mamluks. It is also a possibility that these might still be Mamluk countermarks.
RECEND UPDATE: There is further questioning of most discussion mentioned above. More research is being done into the topic and origin of the countermarks.BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SUGGESTED READING: