Imperial State of Iran
One Gold Pahlavi – SH 1322 – (1943)
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا پهلوی; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (محمدرضا شاه), was the last Shah (King) of the Imperial State of Iran from September 1941 until his overthrow in the Iranian Revolution in February 1979. Due to his status as the last Shah of Iran, he is often simply known as the Shah. He became Shah of Iran after his father (Reza Shah Pahlavi) was forced to abdicate the throne following the invasion of British and Soviet Union allied forces in 1941. His father had sided with the German Third Reich (Nazis), and since Iran was a rich source of petroleum, the allies strategically decided to prevent the Germans from gaining access to Iranian oil while retaining it for the allied war effort.
While researching the Saudi Arabian gold discs struck by the US Mint (Philadelphia) between 1945 and 1947, Harry X Boosel came across information published in The Report of the Director of the Mint for 1943. There, rather than in the official list of foreign coins minted by the US Mint, it was stated that these Pahlavis were struck by the mint. A look at the Standard Catalog of World Coins (Krause & Mishler) indicates that this series was also minted in 1941 and 1942. However, these are so rare it has been assumed that these were patterns or trial strikes. So, these gold coins were struck in some quantity in 1943, at the US Mint. The remaining years of 1944 and 1945 saw the Pahlavi and Half-Pahlavi struck elsewhere, and it has been noted that the gold alloy used was noticeably redder.
An interesting note by the Director of the US Mint in The Report of the Director of the Mint (1943) states that: “These coins are objects of value, rather than a circulating medium.” This appears to be an attempt to obscure the unauthorized minting of gold coins following the US regulations on gold coins of 1933. However, these coins were used in Iran as regular coinage. The same mystery also surrounded the Saudi Arabian gold discs manufactured by the US Mint. In that case they were struck to facilitate an oil deal between the Saudi princes and America’s oil companies (ARAMCO). In Iran a similar reason can be cited along with the need to prop-up the new allied supported Shah.
The one Pahlavi shown here (obverse & reverse image flipped) is the US struck date of 1943, the series was also accompanied by the striking of Half-Pahlavi coins. The coin is .900 gold with a weight of 8.136 g at 22 mm, therefore it has .2354 ounce total gold content and it’s reeded. The obverse Persian legend is: ‘Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi the King of Iran’ with the date SH 1322 (1943) below. The reverse features elements of the Pahlavi family arms, Lion and Sun, an associated inscription and the date repeated below the wreath (olive & oak). Above is seen the Pahlavi Dynasty crown. The lion and sun motif have an interesting history. First seen in the 13th century, the Seljuqs of Rum adopted this symbol in Anatolia (Turkey) around 1240. Earlier versions of this symbol usually feature a sun with full face shown, including coins of Iran. On this coin the sun’s face is limited to eye brow ridges, on others all facial features are missing. It’s possible these facial features get subdued based upon the strictness of adherence to Islamic law. Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979) this symbol disappears with one notable exception. While the SCWC only shows mintage figure for the Pahlavi of 1944 (311k), the Director of the Mint report indicates the Pahlavi for 1943 had 16,053 struck, with 89,108 for the Half-Pahlavi. KM# 1148, NGC encapsulated as MS65.