Mint Place: al-Qahira (Cairo, Egypt) Reference: Friedberg 25, Album 977. R! Denomination: Heavy Gold Ashrafi Dinar Ruler: al-Nasir Faraj (801-808, 809-815h), Condition: Weakness of strike in central area, otherwise VF+ Mint Period: 1399-1412 AD (AH 801-815) Diameter: 26mm Material: Gold! Weight: 9.2gm
For your consideration a rare gold ashrafi coin, struck in Egypt, during the 14th Century, by the Burji (Tower) Mamluks, who ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years, centering their power in a towered citadel. Mamluk means "slave", as most of the rulers started their lives as slaves, working their way up the system through merit. Mamluk gold Ashrafis were struck to a weight of approximately 3.5g, which was the same as that of the standard gold trade coin of the period, the Venetian Ducat. They are generally of the highest purity.
Another historic fact often mentioned with the gold ashrafi coins is that it was included in the original tale of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves:
"When he stood within the cave, its door had closed upon him, yet he was not dismayed, since he had kept in memory the magical words, and he took no heed of the precious stuffs around him, but applied himself only and wholly to the sacks of ashrafis." (The Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves tale, first translated by Sir Richard Burton, 1850)
Nasir-ad-Din Faraj (Urdu; Arabic; Persian: ناصر الدین فرج ; r. 1399–1411 CE) was born in 1386 and succeeded his father Sayf-ad-Din Barquq as the second Sultan of the Burji dynasty of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt in July 1399 with the title Al-Nasir. He was only thirteen years old when he became Sultan on the sudden death of his father. His reign was marked by anarchy, pandemonium and chaos with invasions of Tamerlane (Timur Leng, or Timur Beg Gurkani), incessant rebellions in Cairo, endless conflicts with the Emirs of Syria (with the Sultan and also amongst themselves), along with plague and famine which reduced the population of the kingdom to one-third. During the end of his reign he became a tyrannical ruler which eventually led him into his seventh and final conflict with the Syrian Emirs at Baalbek. Defeated in battle he fled to the citadel of Damascus. Unable to escape, he surrendered and on May 23, 1411 he was stabbed to death in his prison cell by a hired assassin. The Emirs placed on the throne as a temporary measure Caliph Al-Musta'in Billah.