LIBYA

Two things....
A New Coin For Libya
A New Bi-metallic Coin for Libya


A New Coin For Libya

   Whilst writing and maintaining my site all about African coins and tokens it is always rather useful for me to keep an eye on the items for auction/sale on eBay. New world coin types are often quick to appear for sale/auction on eBay - sometimes they are even offered for sale before they are truly available. Around September 2002 a new Libyan coin type was issued and towards the end of January 2003 I came across information about it on the site of the Central Bank of Libya.

Libya 1/4 Dinar 1369
Libya’s new 1/4 Dinar coin with date “1369”, this piece I acquired mid-April 2003 (image is at 200dpi)

   With the information - that the coin was a 10 sided, golden-coloured, 1/4 Dinar coin, with design loosely following circulation coins already in use in Libya - a contact of mine set about getting someone to have a go at getting hold of one of these coins for me. By early March 2003 my contact had got hold of me an example of the new Libyan 1/4 Dinar and very brief news of Libya’s plans for a new 1/2 Dinar coin sometime in the not too distant future. It would seem that the very first of these new 1/4 Dinar coins to appear on eBay opened for bids on 23rd March 2003  (it was at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3014881448 , and will not stay there forever). Bidding closed at 93.17 USD and although it seems that even in Libya these coins are difficult to get hold of (even from main/major banks) I did not pay such a steep price as that for my piece. The seller for this first piece to be offered on eBay was from China (not my source) and this is by no means the first time that a Chinese based coin seller/dealer on eBay has been the first on there to offer a notable new African coin type (e.g. I first saw a Central African States 500 Francs 1998 new type when it was being auctioned on eBay by a Chinese seller).

So let’s take a look at this new coin......

   It appears to be made of Nickel-Brass or similar alloy, it has 10 sides, measures 28.0mm across flats, thickness is just over 2mm, mass is approx 11.15 grams and the edges are alternately reeded and plain (i.e. five plain edges and five reeded edges). This happens to be rather similar to Algeria’s 10 Dinar type KM-110 (dates 1979/1981). The Algerian type is a similar colour and apparently of a slightly different alloy to the Libyan type. Both types have 10 sides, measure 28.0mm across flats and have a thickness of just over 2mm. The Algerian type has only a similar mass to that of the Libyan type (those of Algeria KM-110 actually seem to vary). Finally the edges on both types are alternately reeded and plain (i.e. five plain and five reeded) but where as the Libyan type has continuous reeding on those sides that are reeded, the Algerian type has two even gaps in the
reeding of each of the reeded edges.

   The site of the Central Bank of Libya describes the obverse as such “A Libyan Knight mediates the face of the piece, which is surrounded by the name of Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya with date of 1369”. The Libyan Knight design is as that on the 1979 dated series of Libyan coins, the higher denominations of which apparently continue to be issued for circulation in Libya with frozen dates. The country title on each of these coins appears below and around the knight and on the 1979 dated coins the title reads 'al-jamahiriya al-'arabiya al-libiya ash-sha'biya al-ishtiraqiya' meaning Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Note: Jamahiriya is a word meaning "self governed by its people" as opposed to the Arabic word Jumhuriya meaning Republic. For the new coin 'al-'uthma' has been added to the country title, this additional Arabic word which means "the greatest" or "most significant". This is not a really an official change in the country’s title, the addition of al-'uthma is just something that has come into popular usage in Libya - an obvious sign of strong patriotism. Differences in Arabic script can be seen between the 7 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions below the knight when comparing the new Libyan coins with those dated 1979. The date digits are the only writing at all on the new 1/4 Dinar type to be in western text and the curious date “1369” will be explained later.

   The site of the Central Bank of Libya describes the reverse as such “The value of the coin is written on the back of the piece with two spikes surrounded by Islamic Ornamentation”. What the bank describes as “two spikes” must be the two ears of wheat below the denomination. This reverse is generally similar to Libya’s 100 Dirhams coins of 1979 (KM-23) amongst others, but instead of the denomination numeral appearing in Arabic digits (as per the previous types) it appears as a word in Arabic script. To most western collectors, myself included, digits would have been so much easier to understand. Few recent world coins have their denomination number written as a word in a non-western text. The only other recent examples I could find were some of the Iranian circulation types with a portrait of the Shah, from around the 1970’s.

   Let’s take another look at that date “1369”. Not mentioned by the Libyan bank’s site is the text adjacent to the date digits “1369” on the obverse of the coin. That short piece of Arabic text reads as min wafat ar-rasul, which translates as “from the death of the prophet”. Libya has recently moved away from using the “AH” (Anno Hegirae) dating as used in most of the Arab world and as seen on many coins of those countries. Libya now uses a dating system that is solar years since the death of the prophet Mohammed (8th June 632AD), where as the “AH” system is lunar years since the prophet Mohammed fled from Mecca. In Libya’s new dating system the year “1369” as seen on this new coin equates to the year 2001/2002AD (having started in June 2001AD).

   I found a separate news related article about the “year” in Libya at.....  http://www.libya1.com/news/n17dec1a.htm . Not only does Libya call itself a Jamahiriya and have a dating system different to that used in any other Arab nation, but also information in the above mentioned article details how sometimes dating taken from the birth of the prophet Mohammed has been used and how the Libyan language has been changed to give new names to some of the calendar months, those having connections with Ancient Rome having been replaced.


A New Bi-metallic Coin for Libya

    At the end of 2004 I first heard of another new coin for Libya - a bi-metallic 1/2 Dinar.

Libya 1/2 Dinar 1372
Libya 1/2 Dinar 1372 P.D., scaled to 200dpi

    The Central Bank of Libya has some details of this coin e.g. the mass is 11.50 grams, the diameter is 30mm and that the edge is milled. A description of the design of the coin is also given. As can be seen from the images, the design is pretty much the same as that of the 1/4 Dinar. One thing different about the 1/2 Dinar though, is that it doesn’t just include the denomination in Arabic but it also includes the denomination numeral “1/2” in western numerals.

    The dating on the new 1/2 Dinar coin is of the same calendar as the 1/4 Dinar. In mentioning the date on the 1/2 Dinar the central bank’s information equates 1372 as 2004. Where the date “1372” is mention by the central bank it is followed by “P.D” - perhaps that is an abbreviation for “Prophet’s Death”.

    The composition of ring and core parts of the coins are not detailed by the central bank. The ring is a silvery colour, likely Copper-Nickel, whilst the core is a golden colour, possibly Aluminium-Bronze.
 
 

The background image is the Libyan Knight as seen on the Libyan 1979 dated coins and the new 1/4 Dinar coin.

Libya Tokens Page

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New page at April 2003.
I had an article, closely based on one the above about the 1/4 Dinar, published in the December 2003 issue of "Coin News" (Token Publishing, UK)
Extra section (including image) on the suject of the bi-metallic 1/2 Dinar added at May 2005.