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All Posts Tagged With: "ARAMCO"

Unusual Items: US Mint ‘Gold Disks’ Made for Oil Payments to Saudi Arabia

One of the things we find most exciting about reporting on the numismatic marketplace is coming across those things we either didn’t know beforehand, or finding obscure and unusual numismatic items. Just recently we came across one such item, the Gold Disks produced by the US mint for ARAMCO oil payments to Saudi Arabia after World War II.

Below are excerpts from two different articles we located, one from 1981 and the other from 1991.

The Coins that Weren’t

“In Saudi Arabia, gold coins have always been important in the monetary system. For years, in fact, paper money was unacceptable, and to pay royalties to the government, Aramco once flew kegs of both gold and silver coins to jiddah. In 1952, when the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) was formed, the first coin issued was a Saudi sovereign – a gold coin equal in weight and value to the British sovereign – that was later demonetized and today sells for about $124.

To collectors, however, the most interesting Saudi gold coins weren’t coins at all; they were “gold discs” Similar to coins, they were minted by the Philadelphia Mint in the 1940’s for Aramco, and bore, on one side, the U. S. Eagle and the legend “U. S. Mint, Philadelphia, USA” and, on the other side, three lines on the fineness and weight. They looked like coins, they were used as coins, but, technically, they weren’t coins.

In the 1950’s, numismatists were puzzled by these “discs” until-in 1957 – the story emerged in The Numismatist. Aramco, required to pay royalties and other payments in gold to the Saudi government, could not obtain the gold at the monetary price fixed by the United States so the U. S. government specifically began to mint the “discs” – actually bullion in coin form for these payments. In 1945, for example, the mint turned out 91,210 large discs worth $20, and, in 1947,121,364 small discs worth $5, according to The Numismatist.