Two Pieces of Oil Royalty “Money” Offered in NYINC Auction

Though most of the material offered in our New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) auction is not issued by the United States, there are several lots that have a U.S. connection. Notable among these are two gold 4-Sovereign Pounds issued by the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) and struck by the Philadelphia Mint to be used as payment for American usage of Saudi Arabian oil fields during WWII. Found in lots 53038 and 53039, the two gold disks, both graded AU-58 by PCGS, were minted between 1945 and 1946. They each have a gold fineness (0.9170) and AGW (0.942oz) equivalent to four British sovereign gold pieces, owing to Saudi Arabia’s close ties at the time to the British Empire.

The gold disks feature a relatively crude depiction of a heraldic eagle in the center of the obverse, encircled by the words “U.S. Mint / Philadelphia / U.S.A.” The design is struck centrally on the gold piece and sits in the middle of a blank field. The reverse is struck with three lines of text reading: “Gross Weight – 493.1 Grains / Net Weight – 452.008333 GR. / Fineness 916 ⅔.” The edges are reeded.

Some 91,000 were minted, but the issue is considered fairly scarce today as many were melted down into bullion after Saudi Arabia nationalized their oil fields in the 1950s. Numismatists and researchers alike caution interested parties about the abundance of counterfeits and recommend turning to certified examples, such as those being offered in our January 2024 NYINC Auction.

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