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testing the weights of dirhams and dînârs, but does not state of what material they were made.R
In reply to Mr. S. Poole's second argument, I cannot see that glass is an inconvenient material for coin weights. Glass does not corrode, if simply the most ordinary care be bestowed upon it. A glass weight could not be reduced in size or in weight without easy detection. An accidental fracture would at once be noticed. And I think that glass would be much more inconvenient a material as applied to current coin than as applied to coin weights. Would not a disc such as No. 39, Fig. 4, be a very awkward coin? As a weight it remains in a box or a drawer with the scales, and is the representative of the weight of a certain known number of dînârs or dirhams.
Thirdly, "It is clear that the point that would almost settle this question is the weight of each glass disc." Mr. S. Poole does not inform us how many discs are in the collections to which he alludes. In my collection I have 135. I have had the advantage of examining M. Sauvaire's collection, consisting of eight; and the Rev. Greville Chester's recent acquisitions, to the number of nine. I have weighed each one very carefully in scales made for me in London, and verified on scientific principles by Messrs. Young and Son, of Cranbourne Street, Leicester Square. I have given without reserve the exact weight of every disc that has come under my notice, only omitting the weights of fragments, from which evidently no argument could possibly be deduced.
• Al Kamil fi t tarikh, vol. iv. page 337.,
الوزن انما يزنون بعضها ببعض فلما وضع لهم. بعضهم عن غبن بعض
سمير السنج كف
At first sight these glass discs seem to agree almost exactly with the weight of dirhams and dînârs, their mul. tiples and their subdivisions; but on closer examination we find many which weigh intermediate numbers of grains, corresponding with no proportion of either dirham or dînâr as at present calculated.
It certainly would be ridiculous to weigh with 19 grains instead of 16:3 grains, as Mr. S. Poole remarks; but this reductio ad absurdum is hardly to the point. For, firstly, we do not know exactly what the piece now weighing nineteen grains originally represented. We cannot tell by how much it may have been reduced in weight by friction in the sand or by the accidental application of acids; nor, in the second place, do we know at what exact period the said disc was cast. We know that the weights of dînârs and dirhams were frequently changed and modified by various Mohammedan rulers. Abd ul Malik first made them at the rate of 21:75 ķirâts to the dînâr and 15 ķirâts to the dirham.' Ibn el Abbas reduced the weight of the dirham to 14:75 and afterwards to 14:50 ķirâts.10 Under Harûn er Rashîd the dirham weighed 14:25 ķirâts; and in A.H. 184 it was temporarily reduced to 10:55.11 The glass coin weights, which we cannot exactly identify, may have been cast at either of these periods of altered standards; for I repeat that I never supposed these discs to have been destined for the weighing of wares, but only for the weighing of dirhams and dînârs, their multiples and subdivisions.
Fourthly, as to the argument that the largest number of
9 Essai sur les systèmes métriques et monétaires, vol. ii. p. 145.
vol. ii. page 160. 11 Idem, vol. ii. page 161.
glass discs issued by one ruler were those issued by the eighth Fatimite Khalîfah Al Mustansir billah, I cannot admit this as a "fact.” It is not so recorded in history. Mr. Poole has accidentally found the name of that Khalifah repeated more often than any other on the discs that have come under his notice; but I must take the opportunity of stating that in my collection-and this consists of all that I have been able to obtain during many years past, having purchased without reserve all that have been offered to methe palm must be yielded by the 8th to the 6th Fatimite Khalifah. Of the Fatimite glass discs that I have deciphered,
2 belong to the 4th Khalifah
11th I do not consider that the introduction of the name of the town Al Mansûrîyeh, in which a certain glass disc was cast, is any proof that it was a coin rather than a weight. Al Mansûrîyeh was for a long time a most important capital, and the name of that place would give a sort of guarantee that the disc was cast under Government auspices and of the required size or weight.
We now come to the description of two discs by Mr. S. Poole, and with all deference I must object to his translation
. the weight of a dinâr, not the "equal of a dînâr,” the word
The words really mean literally .میزان دینار of the words
.وزن having its root in the word میزان
I think that the scarcity of glass discs is another collateral proof that they were not used as coins. Glass does not actually perish by being buried. The action of fire or of certain acids would alone injure it. Were these discs the representatives of the countervalue of current coins, hoards of them would doubtless have been found, just as hoards of gold, silver, and copper coins are often found. These discs, however, have never been found in hoards. I have for many years past purchased them one or two at a time from shopkeepers in the druggists' and other bazaars in the East. Moreover, a fact worthy of remark, though not of itself a proof either one way or another, is that both the Rev. Greville Chester and myself have found these discs almost invariably in the little boxes or drawers in which the shopkeeper kept his other weights and scales.
The conservatism of Orientals is well known, and it is my belief that these glass coin weights have been handed down from father to son, from generation to generation, and passed on to each succeeding occupier of the shop, with its trade, weights, and scales, and that they have been intuitively retained by their recent owners long after their critical usefulness had passed away.
I have not replied to Mr. S. Poole in any spirit of contention. But I have found certain data which had escaped his observation, and I have sought to lay those data and my deductions from them before the readers of this Journal in the simple cause of numismatic science. Equally I trust I have not overstepped the legitimate limits of controversy, in the foregoing arguments, in support of my theory that these extant glass discs were once STANDARD coin weights.
E. T. ROGERS, CAIRO, Jan. 8, 1873.
H.B.M. Consul. P.S. Since I wrote the foregoing article, I have discovered that larger discs and blocks of glass were made by the Mohammedans, which were probably used for weighing
either large numbers of coins or perhaps the wares in the shops. One in the National Collection at Paris has an Arabic inscription, and the word, rotl. One in the Slade collection in the British Museum may be referred to as a weight. And lastly a disc just discovered by my friend M. Sauvaire has the words is half ounce in very bold Kufic characters. This weight is of dark greenish yellow glass, and is translucent; but the surface presents a variety of colours, such as are often found on specimens of old glass after having been buried for a long time. Its present weight is 235-5 grains. The wŭkîyeh or ounce in use in the present day in Egypt is 576 English grains, making the half wŭkîyeh 228 grains.
E. T. ROGERS.
CAIRO, Jan. 22, 1873.