North Cyprus  

Ottoman Coins Minted in Cyprus

  by Dr. Gyula Petrányi  
  Part 1: Akches 

Cyprus came under Ottoman rule in 1570AD and remained part of the Empire until 1878. Although Murad III ordered the building a mint on the island in 1579, it is not evident that he minted any coins in there. Only coins struck by Mehmed III, Ahmed I and Murad IV have so far been found with the Cyprus mint name on them. The Cyprus mint seems to have been in operation between 1595 and 1640.

Two silver denominations, the akches and a somewhat larger coin are known from the Cyprus mint. We will focus on the akche in this article and leave the other denomination for a future article.

KIBRIS, the name of the island in Turkish, is spelt with the Arabic letters QBRS (qaf-ba-ra-sin). All varieties of Akches from KIBRIS have counterparts from many other Ottoman mints and are distinguishable only by the mint name. The appearance of the mint name, therefore, is an essential element for the identification on KIBRIS struck Akches.

As usual, the KIBRIS akches have inscriptions only, in Arabic. They can be classified as either a circular type or a linear type according to the arrangement of the obverse legend. The reverse legend is always in the linear arrangement. A dot can be found in the geometrical center of the double border on both sides unless obliterated by other parts of the legend. The diameter of the outer border (dotted border) is 11 mm, and that of the line border  is 10 mm. The actual coins are around 9-11 mm in size but many coins are irregular in shape, off-center and badly struck. The average weight of the KIBRIS Akche is around 0.3 g.

The obverse legend shows the name of the ruler (X) as Sultan and the name of his dead father (Y) as Han: Sultan X bin Y Han. In the circular type the ruler's name is in the center and Sultan bin Y Han forms the circle around the name. In the linear type the legend is in three horizontal lines: Sultan / X bin / Y Han.

The reverse legend is invariably in four horizontal lines: 'azze nasruhu  / duribe /  KIBRIS  /  accession year of the ruler; that is, "may his victory be glorious, minted [in] Cyprus" and the accession year AH.

All varieties of the Cyprus akches are listed below. The sequence is in the most probable chronological order, the exact dates of the issues within the same reign are unknown. The chart helps to observe the differences. The circle represents the line border of the stamp, not the edge of the coin; this was surrounded by another border of dots. The full image is rarely visible on the actual pieces. 



  1595-1603, accession year: 1003 AH
All akches are of the circular type. The two varieties are different in the positioning of the obverse legend around the name in center.
Type 1a. Obv. Circular: MEHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MURAD HAN around; legend starts below MEHMED. Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1003.
Type 1b. Obv. Circular: MEHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MURAD HAN around; legend starts above MEHMED. Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  / DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1003. 
  1603-1617, accession year: 1012 AH
The linear obverse type is more common. The circular type have the faulty accession year 1102 and the script on the reverse is closer in style to the akches of Murad IV.
Type 1.  Obv. Linear:  SULTAN  /  AHMED BIN  /  MEHMED HAN in three lines. Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1012.
Type 2. Obv. Circular:  AHMED in center, SULTAN BIN MEHMED HAN around; legend starts below AHMED. Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1102. 
  1623-1640, accession year: 1032 AH
All are of the linear type obverse legend. One coin is known with year 1033 instead of 1032.
Type 1a.  Obv. Linear: SULTAN  /   MURAD BIN  /  AHMED HAN in three lines. Rev. 'AZZE NASRUHU  /  DURIBE  /  KIBRIS  /  1032. 
Type 1b.  The same as Type 1a but with 1033. 
  General comments 

Very few KIBRIS Akches have been published, the total number of these Akches recorded from all over the world is still under 50. Most of them are in private collections. The silver content of the these Akches is unknown, a few have silvery appearance but corroded pieces show that more debased issues also exist.

The numbers of recorded pieces suggest the following relative rarity of the varieties listed from the most common to the most rare:

a)    Mehmed III Type 1a (the commonest)
b)    Ahmed I Type 1
c)    Murad IV Type 1a
d)    Mehmed III Type 1b
e)    Ahmed I Type 2
f)     Murad IV Type 1b (one piece recorded).

Our thanks to Dr. Gyula Petrányi for sharing his insight on this interesting Ottoman/Cypriote coinage. Originally from Hungary, Dr. Petrányi is a medical doctor living and practicing in Cyprus. Along with his interest in Ottoman/Cypriote coinage his main field in numismatics is the study of the 3rd-1st c BC Greek-Illyrian silver coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium. Any aspects of this topic can be discussed with the author by email