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When is a coin lightside, darkside, bullion, modern, classic...and just freaking awesome?

WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 23, 2017 7:15PM in U.S. Coin Forum

When it's this recent Heritage win:

1945 Saudi Arabia United Kingdoms Gold 4 Pounds
United States Mint (Philadelphia)
Fineness: 0.9170
Weight: 31.9500 grams
AGW: 0.94195 troy oz

From The April 14, 1991 New York Times:

Sometimes coins are minted for the strangest of reasons. Some Saudi Arabian bullion coins...are a prime example.

The coins were struck in Philadelphia by the United States Mint in 1945 and 1947 to satisfy the obligations of the Arabian American Oil Company, or Aramco, which had been set up in Saudi Arabia by four American oil companies. The company was obliged to pay the Saudi Government $3 million a year in oil royalties and its contract specified that the payment be made in gold.

The United States dollar at the time was governed by a gold standard that, at least officially, made the dollar worth one thirty-fifth of an ounce of gold. But the price of gold on the open market had skyrocketed during World War II.

For a time the Saudis accepted payment in United States currency, but by 1945 they were insisting that the payments in gold be resumed. Aramco sought help from the United States Government. Faced with the prospect of either a cutoff of substantial amounts of Middle Eastern oil or a huge increase in the price of Saudi crude, the Government minted 91,120 large gold disks adorned with the American eagle and the words "U.S. Mint -- Philadelphia."

Aramco paid for the minting and the bullion. The coins were shipped off to Saudi Arabia.

These bullion coins weighed 493.1 grains, slightly more than a troy ounce, and were 91 2/3 percent gold and 8 1/3 percent copper. The fineness was that of the British sterling system then current in the Middle East. The United States standard was only 90 percent gold.

Although some Aramco employees reported seeing the coins in circulation in the late 1940's, even using them as poker chips, the coins were not widely circulated. Islamic law discourages images and most Saudi coins are adorned with only Arabic script as decoration. The eagle with its wings spread wide must have been a startling sight to Saudi Arabia's more orthodox Muslims.

But most of the coins disappeared for more temporal reasons. The bullion coins were crated and shipped to Bombay, where the $35-an-ounce American gold was sold for $70 an ounce. Most of the coins were melted into bars and later sold in Macao.

In 1947, Aramco contracted for 121,364 smaller bullion coins with the same design, but weighing just 123.27 grains. Those coins actually saw some popular use in Saudi Arabia and traded for about $12, or 40 silver Saudi riyals. But the popularity declined after Swiss and Lebanese counterfeiters began striking coins that were similar but less valuable.

In 1951, Saudi Arabia began minting its own gold coins and melted down most of the remaining small and large bullion coins from the United States Mint, restriking them as Saudi coins.


We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
--Severian the Lame


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    davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,860 ✭✭✭✭✭

    very nice

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    Batman23Batman23 Posts: 4,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very cool, neat story.

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    ironmanl63ironmanl63 Posts: 1,971 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the post. Very interesting.

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    ldhairldhair Posts: 7,124 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have never seen these. I'll go with awesome.


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    mkman123mkman123 Posts: 6,849 ✭✭✭✭

    these are very cool!

    @Weiss Don't forget to get the smaller version, the 1 pound version

    Successful Buying and Selling transactions with:

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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks, all. Heritage had several, including the smaller 1 pound @mkman123 , in their auction a couple of weeks back. I actually bid on the lowest grade piece, figuring it would be overlooked by the MS bidders. That and I liked the color and the idea that it might have seen some circulation rather than just being crated and shipped before sitting in a vault for 50 years.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A nice piece of history... something unlikely to be repeated..... Cheers, RickO

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    sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,494 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The 4 pounds are significantly scarcer than the 1 Pound coins and now I know why. I didn't realize that they were from separate strikings and had different fates. I also didn't know about the 1 Pound counterfeits-something to watch out for.

    Thanks for sharing the details and your nice example.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
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    oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,906 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have seen these before, but not slabbed with identifying country.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_aka...Dr. Defecto - Curator of RMO's

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    tommy44tommy44 Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Always wanted one of those, maybe one of these days. Inscribed with the words "U.S. MINT" and PHILADELPHIA U.S.A." I've wondered why it isn't considered a US coin?

    it's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide

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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No doubt these should be in the Red Book. There are other issues that are nowhere near as relevant to US coinage that appear within its pages.

    No matter how hard I try, I can't shake the feeling that I've seen that design somewhere before... ;)

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame

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