Until 1935 Iran was known in the West by its English name – Persia. For over 400 years Iran’s monetary system was based on the toman, divisible into 10,000 Iran dinars, the Arabic form of the ancient Roman denarius. In 1825, the toman was also made divisible into 10 krans or 200 shahis. The shahi is derived from the Farsi (Persian) word ‘shah’ meaning king.
The Pahlavi dynasty began in 1925, and a new monetary reform divided the toman into 1000 dinars. In 1932, the Iranian rial, a spelling variation of the Saudi riyal, replaced the kran and toman. The rial was divided into 100 Iranian dinars or 20 shahis. Even though the Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown and replaced with an Islamic republic in 1979, the Iranian rial, divisible into 100 Iranian dinars was retained.
The term ‘Toman’ continues to be applied in popular usage even today after its discontinuation. Thus, ‘135 Rials’ is always expressed as ‘13 Toman, 5 Rials’. Rial is too used in conversation, as well as either Kran or Ezar (short for Hazar = 1000). Old Iranian coins consist of Iranian silver coins issued in 1/8, 1?4, ½ and 1 rial denominations during the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1932 the first Iranian coins came in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 dinar and ½, 1, 2 and 5 rial denominations, with ½ to 5 rial coins minted in silver. Gold Iranian coins denominated in pahlavi were also issued, initially valued at 20 rial but later changed to 100 rial. Minting of all denominations below 25 Iranian dinar ended in 1944 and new silver 10 rial was introduced a year later. In 1953 this too ceased to be minted. In 1992-93, new Iranian coinage was issued with 1, 5, 10 and 50, 100, Iranian 250 rial coins. The 500 Iranian rial coins was introduced in 2004 followed by new types of 250, 500 and 1000 rial coins in 2009.