Dīnār Minted By King Offa, 157 AH / 774 CE

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First Composed: 11th June 2007

Last Modified: 11th June 2007

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

The gold coin, i.e., dīnār, of King Offa minted in the year 157 AH.


157 AH / 774 CE.


Obverse field: lā-ilaha il-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīkalah ("There is no god but God alone, He has no associate"). Obverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn ("Muḥammad is the messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse").

Reverse field: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh ("Muḥammad is the messenger of God"). Between the three lines forming the inscription of the field of the reverse are the words OFFA REX. Reverse margin: bism Allāh ḍuriba hadhā al-dīnār fī sanat mi' khamsa wa sabaʿun ("In the name of God, this dīnār was struck in the year 157").


Weight = 4.28 gms. The weight of the coin closely corresponds to the Umayyad "reformed" standard of 4.25 gms; a weight known as the mithqāl.

This unique dīnār or the gold coin of King Offa of Mercia is generally considered as one of the rarest and most remarkable coins in the world. Offa's reign over Mercia began in 757 CE and continued until 796 CE. This piece is considered to be a copy of an Arab dīnār of the year 157 AH issued by caliph al-Mansūr, and was issued in, or more probably, subsequently to the year 774 CE. Offa's dīnār also has a lot of epigraphic similarities with the "reformed" coinage introduced by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik. Compare this dīnār with the "reformed" dīnār.

The Arabic inscription is not copied perfectly, albeit it is clear enough that the original from which it was copied was struck in the Islamic year 157 AH. It is not uncertain if the engraver had a good understanding of the Arabic script. Although the Arabic epigraphy is reasonably clear, the name and title OFFA REX has been inserted upside down in relation to the Arabic inscription.

The history and various hypotheses concerning the origin of this gold coin can be found in the literature cited below. Most likely it was designed for use in trade as an Islamic dīnār, for they were the most important coinage in the Mediterranean at the time. Offa's coin looked enough like the original that it would be readily accepted in southern Europe.

Based on the Islamic epigraphy of this coin, people have claimed that King Offa may have become a Muslim. This claim is baseless.


The British Museum, London.


We thank the British Library for providing us the image of the coin.

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[1] P. W. P. Carlyon-Britton, "The Gold Mancus Of Offa, King Of Mercia", The British Numismatic Journal & The Proceedings Of The British Numismatic Society, 1908, Volume V, First Series, pp. 55-72.

[2] J. Allan, "Offa's Imitation Of An Arab Dinar", The Numismatic Chronicle & Journal Of The Royal Numismatic Society, 1914, Volume XIV, Fourth Series, pp. 77-89.

[3] C. E. Blunt & M. Dolley, "A Gold Coin Of The Time Of Offa", The Numismatic Chronicle, 1968, Volume VIII, Seventh Series, pp. 151-160.

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