Numismatic and History Discussions > Medieval, Islamic and Crusader Coins

Ottoman Coins (A first guide)

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Dear Friends

This category will be an attempt to help those seeking more information on Ottoman Coins without having to browse the whole internet or asking many questions. Of course this is open to any comments, suggestions and corrections.

Part 1

The Ottoman Empire was not an empire at first. It was a Beylik that ruled a small area in Anatolia led by Ertugrul. This Beylik amongst with others emerged with the fall of the Seljuk Empire after the invasion of the Mongols. Here is some information:

Ertuğrul (1198-1281), also Ertoğrul, was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. In 1227 he inherited the command of the Kayi tribe of the Oghuz Turks following the drowning of his father, Süleyman, in the river Euphrates, fleeing from the Mongol onslaught. Ertuğrul was given the lands of Karaja Dağ, a mountain near Angora (now Ankara), by Ala ed-Din Kay Qubadh I, the Seljukid Sultan of Rüm. Later he was also given the village of Söğüt with the surrounding lands.

Osman I (1258–1326) (Ottoman عُثمَان ʿUthmān) was the founder of the Ottoman Empire. He was born in 1258 and inherited the title bey (chief) from his father, Ertuğrul, as the ruler of the village of Söğüt in 1281. The birth of the empire originated with the conquest of the Turkish tribe of Eskenderum and the city of Eskişehir (Turkish for 'Old Town') in 1301–1303, although Osman had already in 1299 declared the independence from the Seljuk Empire of his own small kingdom, the Ottoman Principality.
With the fall of the Byzantine fort at Yenişehir ('New Town') the Turks where ready to launch a siege at the large Byzantine towns of Proussa (now Bursa) and Nicaea (now İznik). Osman I died in 1326, the same year that Bursa fell. He was after his death given the title of ghazi (warrior of the faith) by his successors. Whenever a new Sultan ascended the throne, the people would cry out "May he be as great as Osman".

Orhan or Orkhan was the bey (chief) of the newborn Ottoman Empire (at the time known as the Osmanli tribe) from 1326 to 1359. Orhan conquered most of western Anatolia and took part of the political upheaval of the decaying Byzantine Empire by marrying Helen, the daughter of John VI Cantacuzenus the alienated guardian of Emperor John V Palaeologus. As the price of this still prestigious marriage, Orhan helped Cantacuzenus to overthrow John V and his regents. In 1354 Orhan's son, Suleiman Pasha (Süleyman Paşa), occupied Gallipoli (evacuated by its Greek population in the wake of an earthquake) and gave the Ottoman state a bridgehead into mainland Europe.

Murad I (1319 (or 1326) – 1389; nick-named Hüdavendiğar, the God-like one) was the ruler of the Ottoman Empire from 1359 to 1389. He was the son of Orhan I and the Byzantine princess Helen (Nilofer) and became the ruler following his father's death in 1389. He established the Empire by building up a society and government in the newly conquered city of Adrianople (Edirne in Turkish) and by expanding the realm in Europe, bringing most of the Balkan under Ottoman rule and forcing the Byzantine emperor to pay him tribute. It was Murad who established the former Osmanli tribe into an empire. He established the title of sultan in 1383 and the corps of the Janissaries and the devşirm recruiting system. He also organised the government of the Divan, the system of timars and timar-holders (timariots) and the military judge, the kaziasker. He also established the two provinces of Anadolu (Anatolia) and Rumili (Europe).
Murad fought against the powerful emirate of Karamanid in Anatolia and against the Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians in Europe. His moves in the Balkans brought together a Christian coalition under the king of Hungary, but they were defeated at the Battle of Maritsa on September 26, 1371 by Murad's capable second lieutenant Lalaşahin, the first governor (Beylerbey) of Rumili. In 1366 the Serbian king was forced to pay tribute to the Sultan and in 1385 Sofia fell to the Ottomans. Murad was assassinated by Miloš Obilic, a Serbian noble, during the Battle of Kosovo. See the conquests of Murad I.

Part 2

The Period of Interregnum:
The Ottoman Interregnum (also known as the Ottoman Triumvirate; Fetret Devri in Turkish) was a period in the beginning of the 15th century when chaos reigned in the Ottoman Empire following the defeat of Sultan Beyazid I in 1402 by the Mongol warlord Tamerlane.
Around 1410 the three sons of Beyazid left alive after the Battle of Ankara ruled each half of the remaindants of the empire. The eldest son, Suleiman Çelebi, ruled northern Greece, Bulgaria and Thrace. His brother, İsa Çelebi ruled Greece and the westernmost of Anatolia, however he was overthrown by the younger half-brother Mehmed Çelebi from his capital in Bursa in 1404. Suleiman then acquired southern Greece as well and Mehmet ruled over Anatolia. Mehmet sent his younger brother Mûsa across the Black Sea with a large army to conquer Suleiman. Mûsa won in Bulgaria in 1410 and Suleiman was forced to retreat south to Greece.
Mûsa then proclaimed himself as sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Mehmed became furious and sent a small army over to Gallipoli where it was defeated. Mehmed later came to his senses and forced an alliance with the Byzantine Empire. Three years later Mehmed sent over a new army that defeated Mûsa in Kamerlu, Serbia. It was then easy for Mehmed I to overthrow his last brother in Greece and become the Ottoman sultan.

The Fall of the Ottoman Empire:
The Ottoman Empire failed to keep up technologically with its European rivals, especially Russia. It suffered a huge naval loss at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In the Balkans region it was constantly contested by Habsburgs and for atime the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Its border with the Commonwealth was that of semi-pernament warzone, with Tatars raiding the southern Commonwealth and Cossacks raids pillaging areas as far as Istanbul suburbs. Fighting Persia to the east, Commonwealth and Habsburgs on the west and Russia in the north, the Ottoman Empire was unable to hold any of its gains for long. It barely managed to repulse foregin intervention from Moldavia (1593-1621). After its defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 the Ottoman Empire began a long decline and for a long period was known as the Sick man of Europe. The empire was for many years supported by the western powers, who were trying to counter Russia. The empire finally collapsed in after the defeat of the empire by the Allies in World War I.

Then the major territories were devided up into many different sectors simply as Germany after WWII. The Anatolain parts were devided into a Greek, French and British sectors. In 1919 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered the fight back and the revolution and the battles against Greece, UK and France were finally won and the Turkish Republic was set up in 1923 with Ataturk as the first ruler. The other territories were lost and other nations were founded. The roots of the conflict in Iraq lie in this as Britain simply messed up to provide land of each ethnic group (Kurds, Turkic Iraqis in the north, Suni and Shi'ites) as ordered by Wilson's 14 Points. Also, one major short term cause of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, which remained under the Ottoman for over 500 years peacefully, was also due to British diplomatic failure, the same with conflicts on Cyprus.

Part 3

Here is a list of Ottoman Mints:

{ }= additional part of mintname not always present
( ) = modern name/country, if different
[ ] = additional notes
?? = uncertain mint
Types of metals:
G = gold
S =silver
C = copper
N = nickel

Istanbul (Constantinople) established itself as the main mint of the Ottoman Empire. Long after all the other mints had  closed down, the Darphane mint was still churning out coins, right up until the very end. A refurbished Darphane continues to be the sole mint of the Turkish Republic

Konstantiniye G,S,C,N [followed by El Mahrusa (the guarded) on some gold coinage of 1223 only]
Islambol G,S [this name was used from 1115-1203]
Dar el-Sultanie el-Aliyye G [on gold coinage of 1187/2 only]
Dar ul Hilafe G [on gold coinage of 1223/15 only, followed by Elaliye (supreme abode) or Elseniye (exalted abode)]

Other mints:

Aden ('Adan, Yemen) G,S,C
Adilcevaz C
Amasya G,S,C
{Kara} Amid (Diyarbakir) G,S,C [Kara on 1009 and later coinage, different mint?]
Ankara S [name used from 886AH onwards]
  Engüriye S,C [original name, pre-886AH]
Antep (Gaziantep) C
Ardanuç G,S
Ayasluk (Selçuk) S,C
Bagdad (Baghdad, Iraq) G,S,C
Balad S
Balya S
Banaluka (Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina) S
Basra (Al Basrah/Basra, Iraq) G,S,C
Baybirt (Bayburt) G ??
Belgrad (Beograd/Belgrade, Yugoslavia) G,S
Bergama C
Besni S
Bey?ehir S
Bitlis G,S,C
Bolu C
Bosna (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) C [on a mangir of 1099]
   Saray S,C  [same town, different mint? name used on an akce of 1032 and a mangir of 1100]
Bursa G,S,C
Cerbe (Jerba, Tunisia) G
{el} Cezayir{i Garb} (Alger/Algiers, Algeria) G,S,C [additional portions of name used in various combinations on gold coinage only]
Cizre G,S,C
Çança (Gümü?hane) G,S
   Gümü?hane S (same town, new name, used on coinage of 1143)
Çemiskezek C
Demürkapu (Derbent, Dagestan/Russian Federation) S
Dhi Mamar (in Yemen) S,C
Dimi?k (Dimashq/Damascus, Syria) G,S,C
   ?am G,S [this name found on coinage of 923]
Edirne G,S,C
Egridir C
Elince (Alinca?, Azerbaycan) G [fortress on the road from Naxcivan to Culfa]
Ercis (Erci?) S ?? [on a do ?ahi dated 941, listed under the Hizan mint in Screckovic's book but with a footnote]
Erzincan C ??
Erzurum G,S,C
Filibe (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) S
Gelibolu S
Gençe (Gäncä, Azerbaycan) G,S
Germiyan (Kütahya) S,C
Güzelhisar (Aydin) S
Haleb (Halab/Aleppo, Syria) G,S,C
Harpurt (Harput) S,C
Hille (Al Hillah, Iraq) G,S
{el} Hisn{keyf}{a}  (Hasankeyf) G,S,C [4 different versions of this name, unsure if there were actually multiple mints operating out of the same town]
Hizan S
Inegöl S
Izmir G,S
{El} Kahire (Cairo, Egypt) C
Ka?gar (Kashi, China) G,S,C [named followed by Mahrusai (guarded by God), Darussultanayi (seat of the Sultanate), or Latif (pleasant/beautiful]
Kawkaban (in Yemen) S,C
Kigi C
Kafsa (Gafsa, Tunisia) S
Karahisar (Afyon) S,C
Kars S
Kastamonu S,C
Kayravan (Kairouan, Tunisia) S,C
Kayseri S
Kibris (Cyprus) S
Konya S,C
Kosnataniye (Kostantina, Algeria) G,S,C
Kratova (Kratovo, Macedonia) G,S
Kuçayna (Kucajna, Yugoslavia) G,S,C
Ladik (Denizli) C
Larende/Laderne (Karaman) S
Malhaz (in Yemen) C [Ottoman military camp in Yemen]
Manisa S
Mara? G,S,C
Mardin G,S,C
Midye (Medea, Algeria) S
{El Mahrusa} Misir (Cairo, Egypt) G,S,C,N ["El Mahrusa on some early mangirs only]
Mudava (Moldova Veche, Romania) G,S
Mokha (Al Mukha, Yemen) C
Musul (Al Mawsil/Mosul, Iraq) G,S,C
Müküs (Bahçesaray) S
Nahçivan (Naxcivan, Azerbaycan) G,S
Nigbolu (Nikopol, Bulgaria) S
Novaberda, Novar (Novo Brdo/Kosovo, Yugoslavia) G,S,C [two different mints that operated in the same town]
Nusaybin S,C
Ohri (Ohrid, Macedonia) S
Orduyu Hümayun G [royal army mint]
Prevadi (Provadiya, (Bulgaria) S
Revan (Yerevan, Armenia) G,S
Ruha (Urfa) G,S,C
Sada (Sa-dah, Yemen) C
Sakiz (Hios, Greece) G,S
Sana{n} (San'a, Yemen) G,S,C [extra "n" on pre-974 coins only]
Saray (Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina) S,C
Selanik (Thessaloniki, Greece) G,S
Serez, Siroz (Serres, Greece) G,S [two different mints that operated in the same town]
Sidrekapsi (Sidherokaps, Greece) G,S
Siirt G,C
Sivas S
Sofya (Sofia, Bulgaria) S
Srebreniçe (Srebrenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina) G,S
?amahi (Shemakha, Azerbaycan) G,S
?irvan (?amaxi, Azerbaycan) G,S,C
Tacura (in Libya) G
Taiz (Ta'izz, Yemen) G,S
Tebriz (Tabriz, Iran) G,S
Tlemsen (Tlemcen, Algeria) G,S
Tiflis (Tbilisi, Georgia) G,S
Tire S,C
Tokat G,S
Trablus[garb] (Tarabulus/Tripoli, Libya) G,S,C
Trablus (Tripoli, Lebanon) S
Trabzon G,S
Tunus (Tunis, Tunisia) G,S,C
Üsküp (Skopje, Macedonia) G,S,C
Van S,C
Zebid (Zabid, Yemen) G,S,C

Taken from the website of Deniz Martinez.

Part 4

The coins of the Ottoman Empire vary in prices like every other dynasty or country. The coins are generally cheaper but of course there are several unique coins and extremly rare coins that are very expensive. Like for example that one Jem Sultan Akce. This one is very rare and very hard to find and prices vary from 700 to 1500 Dollars depending on where you get it from. if you ever can find it. I have never seen one, but in books.

Literature, I view books about coins more important as the coins themselves, is an important topic. The most important books in my opinion are the books by Slobodan Srekovic, Nuri Pere, Necdet Kabaklarli, Cuneyt Olcer and The general book by Stephen Album on Ottoman Coins.

Here is a long list with details on these books. Some books are hard to find:
GENERAL (monetary history, etc.)

Author: Clay, Christopher
Title: Gold for the Sultan: Western Bankers and Ottoman Finance, 1856-1881: A Contribution to Ottoman and to International Financial History
Publishing Info  I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2001  [ISBN: 1860644767]
Phyisical Description: 448 p.
Language: English
Summary: "The financial collapse of the Ottoman government in 1875 was a pivotal event in the history of the Middle East. Based on extensive use of both financial and diplomatic sources, this book is an economic history of Ottoman finances in the context of the larger political and diplomatic history of the Empire. It covers the reasons for the bankruptcy, examining the lack of financial controls and the consequent accumulation of debt, as well as the role of foreign bankers and the question of "exploitative financial imperialism."

Author: Darling, Linda T.
Title: Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy : Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman Empire, 1560-1660
Publishing Info: Leiden : E.J. Brill, c1996. [ISBN: 9004102892]
Series: The Ottoman Empire and its Heritage ; v. 6
Physical Description: xii, 368 p. ; 25 cm. bib.
Language: English
Summary: "This study examines for the first time the finance procedures and documents of the post-classical Ottoman Empire. It provides an overview of institutional and monetary history and a detailed description of assessment and collection processes for Cizye, Avariz and Iltizam-collected taxes, the documents produced by these processes, and the information they contain."

Author: Ender, Celil
Title: Basbakanlik Devlet Arsivleri Osmanli Arsivi'ndeki Nümismatik ile ilgili Belgeler Katalogu : darphaneler, ilgili kuruluslar, madenler, meskukat, kaime, madalya, nisanlar vb. / Documents of Numismatic Importance in the Ottoman Archives : coinage, medals and orders, mints and their administration, mint masters and superintendents, stampers of imperial monograms (Tugra), counterfeiters, etc.
Publishing Info: Istanbul : Türk Nümismatik Dernegi Yayinlari, 1996.
Series: Özel Sayi ; No. 3
Physical Description: 208 p. ; 28 cm.
Languages: Turkish and English

Authors: Inalcik, Halil and Quataert, Donald (joint editors)
Title: An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire
Publication Info: New York and Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge University Press, 1994. (Also released as a two-volume paperback set in 1997 -- ISBN 0521585805)
Physical Description: xxxi, [7], 1026 p. : ill., maps ; 23 1/2 cm. bib. p. 380, 623, 743, 934, 981.
Summary: Compilation of works pertaining to socio-economic history of the Ottoman Empire. Includes "Money in the Ottoman Empire, 1326-1914" by Sevket Pamuk (p. 947-985), who would later write an entire book on the subject (see below).

Author: Mukhamadiev, Azgar Gataullovich.
Title: Bulgaro-Tatarskaëiìa Monetnaëiìa Sistema, XII-XV vv.
Publication Info: Moskva : Izdatel'stvo Nauka, 1983.
Physical Description: 162 p., 21 p. pls. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Language: Russian
Summary: Monetary systems in Bulgaria in the 12th-15th Centuries (includes the early Ottoman period).


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