At its height, the Ottoman Empire ruled present-day Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa (including Egypt), and southeastern Europe. By World War I, the Ottoman Empire had largely disintegrated, and after the war the core of the empire was organized as the Republic of Turkey. Although the Sunni-Ottoman dynasty dates back to the 13th century, the empire became a power to be reckoned with after the capture of onstantinople
in 1453. Perhaps the most famous sultan of the Ottoman Empire was Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566), whose conquest in the 16th century gave the Ottoman Empire control of East-West trade.
The prime coins of the Ottoman Empire were the akce, silver coins that provided the basis of monetary calculations for prices and wages. Suleiman’s architect earned 55 akce per day. A niche for smaller coins was filled by the dirham, with its quarter, and the manghir, which were copper. The most important gold coin was the ashrafit, patterned after the Venetian ducat. To compete with Austrian talers, which rapidly gained acceptance in areas of the empire, Suleiman III (1687–1691) minted a silver coin known as the qurush.
To meet the coinage needs of the empire, the Ottomans purchased blank coins from Austria and the Dutch.
Unlike other Islamic coinage, which often bore religious inscriptions, Ottoman coins bore inscriptions of the Sultan’s titles. One coin bore an inscription that translates as “sultan of the two lands and lord of the two seas.”
Mechanized methods of minting coins first appeared in Turkey in the mid- 19th century, two hundred years later than the widespread adoption of these methods in Europe. Iran saw its first mechanized mint established in Tehran in 1876. In the 20th century, European mechanized mints supplied coins for colonized areas of the Ottoman Empire.
Paper money also made its debut in the mid-19th century. The Ottomans led the way with the issuance of notes in Turkey, setting an example that was soon followed by other provinces of the empire. Iran waited until the late 1880s to issue banknotes. Colonial powers often introduced paper money, paving the way for newly independent countries to issue their own paper money. In the 20th century, the paper money issued in countries of the old Ottoman Empire was often printed in European countries. A British firm, De La Rue, printed paper money for Iraq until the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 cut Iraq off from Europe.
See also: Mughal Coinage
Ehrenkreutz, A. S. 1992. Monetary Change and Economic History in the Medieval Muslim World.
Williams, Jonathan, ed. 1997. Money: A History