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Coins of British India since 1835 Lalita Mathur
The epoch-making reform of British Indian coinage took place in 1835. On the recommendation of James Prinsep, the father of Indian paleography and numismatics, the weight, size and fineness of coins of all metals and denominations were standardised in that year. Thus the “mohar” in gold, the rupee in silver and the quarter- anna in copper were all struck in a uniform weight standard. Previously there were in use numerous coins of varying weights, sizes and fineness that were prevalent. A chronological study of minting activities in India from 1835 to 1947, that is, from the days of King William 1V to George V1, shows that during this period the rupee, India’s standard monetary unit, gained international popularity, so much so that rupee coins were being struck even in places far away from India, such as German East Africa, Italian Somaliland, Java, Mauritius etc.. WILLIAM IV William IV ascended the throne of England on June 26, 1830. Though he had very little to do with the actual government of the Indian territories, since the Board of Directors of the East India Company were exercising real power, coins in India were struck in his name under the auspices of the East India Company. It was during his reign that Indian currency saw its most remarkable reform.
Coins were minted in three metals gold, silver and copper. The gold and silver coins were milled ( machine made ), while the copper ones were unmilled. Coins of all metals bore the date 1835, though, struck between the years 1835 and 1839. There were different designs for coins of different metals. While the obverse of both gold and silver coins bore the effigy of the King, that of the copper coins depicted the company’s Coat-of-Arms. On the other hand, the reverse of the gold coins had the figure of a Lion, while that of the silver and copper coins bore a “laurel wreath” , The Company’s Coat-ofArms consisted of a crossed shield with two supporting Lions on the left and right and a crest lion on the top flanked by two Union Jacks. A scroll below the shield had the “Company’s motto written in Latin. AUSPIGIO REGIS ET SENATUS ANGLIE ( Auspicious Reign and English Senate or Council). The reverse of the gold coins bore the figure of the lion, an “appropriate type of sovereignty, “ completely localized by the ever flourishing Palm, an Asiatic, though ancient, emblem of perpetuity. The reverse of the silver and copper coins had, in the centre, the value of the respective denominations in English and Persian, encircled by a ‘laurel wreath’ above which was inscribed “EAST INDIA COMPANY”.
VICTORIA ( 1819 – 1901)
Coat-of-Arms and Wreath for copper. INDIA. was introduced. Rumour has it that certain microscopic dots were seen on the rupee coins of 1862. The First Series of Victorian coin (1840 to 1861) were issued under the auspices of the East India Company and followed the pattern of the William IV coinage. Bust and Wreath for silver.3 Three series of coins were minted in India during her long reign of 64 years. Irrespective of the metal. Two new denominations in gold – two-third and the one-third mohars equivalent to 10 and 5 rupees respectively. It was believed that a master forger had most meticulously minted a few lakh rupees and put these dots as his private marks. and instead the name of the issuing country. each dot denoting each lakh of coins he had counterfeited. The name of the East India Company disappeared from the reverse. The value and dates were written in English only. The . within newly designed floral wreaths. they bore the Queen’s “Crowned Bust” with the legend written in two parts – VICTORIA to the left and QUEEN to the right. The Second Series were struck 1862 to 1876. The types were – Bust and Lion for gold. were introduced in 1870.
Coins struck in 1862 itself did not bear and dots. and so on.4 actual position was cleared in 1939. This curious but secret arrangement evolved from the system of the “Sonat Rupees” (or. rupees of years from which the mints of Indian Princes derived their profits). Irrespective of metals. The dots were the secret marks of the mints to denote the particular years of minting. EDWARD VII (1901 – 1910) . The only change was with regard to the epithet. The Third Series of Victoria’s coin started with her assumption of the epithet. those in 1864 had two dots. those in 1865 had three dots. coins of this series were exactly like their Second Series counterparts. From 1874 the practice of putting dots on rupee coin for denoting the actual year of mintage was discontinued. EMPRESS. on January 1st 1877. while those struck in 1863 bore only one dot. which was now ‘empress’ instead of ‘Queen’. when it came to be known that all these 1862 coins had been produced by government mint between 1862 and 1873. which diminished annually for a few years and eventually became “Sonats” (or of standard value). New rupees were apparently issued at a premium.
000 old rupees were melted for the purpose. a Coronation Durbar was organized at Delhi. and again. The floral design of the 15 rupee gold coin was new. 1911. composed of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. the thrones used by King George V and Queen Mary at the Delhi Durbar were cast in silver at the Calcutta mint.5 No gold coins were issued during his reign. Only the reverse designs call for special attention. while that of the silver coin was adopted from the floral design of 1910 pattern . Interestingly. A special gold 15 rupee piece was issued only once in 1918 for paying the price of wheat purchased from the Punjab. All the coins of George V bear his crowned bust on the obverse. in December of the same year when he visited India. Coins were struck in the name of George V from 1911 to 1936. But a coin in a new metal and of a new denomination was issued in 1907. GEORGE V ( 1911 – 1936) George V had two coronations – one in London on June 22. This was the cupro-nickel one-anna coin with a scalloped edge. 96. There were four denomination in silver and three in copper.
6 rupee of Edward VII. that of the silver coins represents the interlacing of the three floral emblems of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. after which date British coins were discontinued. on the four outer sides of which were also written in Urdu. Scotland and Ireland – The Rose of England. the Thistle of Scotland and the Shamrock of Ireland – all surrounded by the floral emblem of India – the Lotus. While the wreaths of the gold and bronze coins were merely ornamental. EDWARD VIII No coins were struck in his name because he abdicated before his coronation in 1936. During the brief sway of George VI prior to . Bengali and Telugu. the respective values in English were enclosed in square scrolls. Hindi. GEORGE VI (1895 – 1952) During the reign of George VI India attained freedom from British rule on 15th August. 1947. The reverse design of the cupro-nickel coins followed the pattern of the one – anna coin of Edward VII.
While no gold coins were issued. With the issue of the 1946 – 47 period ultimately came the end of British coinage in India. • J Allan: Catalogue of the Coins of India in the British Museum. and the government of free India started issuing in 1950 a new series of coins in precisely the same metals and of the same denominations. • C J Brown: The Coins of India. . Besides English and Urdu. (Reprint) New Delhi. London. only with suitable changes in the obverse and reverse designs. but its legacy continues. BIBLIOGRAPHY • E J Rapson: British Museum Catalogue of Coins. 1975. 1962. half-rupee and quarter – rupee bearing the king’s crowned head and floral design were sparingly minted with the date 1938.7 Independence several experiments were carried out with coining metals. silver coins of the denomination of rupee. Hindi was also used to express the value of these coins. All these coins had straight milling like their counterparts issued since 1835. London. 1914.
1972.1909. New Delhi 1976. • The British Numismatic Journal . • A N Lahiri: Corpus of Indo-Greek Coins. Calcutta 1965. 1913 Monographs .I (Reprint) Varanasi.III • K D Bajpai: Indian Numismatic Studies. • Numismatic Notes and (Numismatic Society of India) • The Numismatic Chronicle. • Journal of Indian History. • R B Whitehead: Punjab Museum Catalogue Vol. of Alexander’s • V A Smith: Catalogue of Coins in the Indian Museum. JOURNALS • Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol.8 • A Cunningham: Coins Successors in the East. • Journal of Numismatic Society of India.
org/wiki/British_Indian_coins.rbi.us/india/links.com/britishindia _coins • www.htm • www. • en.in/currency/museum • www.bharatcoins.org.com.9 WEBSITES • Jfcampbell.angelfire.com British India Coinage Coins of William IV Description Obverse Reverse .wikipedia. • www.indian-coins.
Silver Half Rupee. Copper . Silver Quarter Rupee.10 Rupee One. Copper Quarter Anna. Silver Half Anna.
Silver Half Rupee. Copper Coins of Queen Victoria (Young Bust) Description Obverse Reverse Two Annas.11 Half Pice. Silver One Rupee. Silver Quarter Rupee. Silver .
Bronze Two Annas. Silver .12 One Mohur Coins of Queen Victoria (Mature Bust) Description Obverse Reverse One Twelfth Anna. Bronze Half Anna. Bronze Half Pice. Bronze Quarter Anna.
Bronze . Silver One Mohur Coins of Queen Victoria (Empress) Description Obverse Reverse One Twelfth Anna. Silver One Rupee.13 One Fourth Rupee. Silver Half Rupee.
Silver One Fourth Rupee. Bronze Quarter Anna. Silver . Silver Half Rupee. Bronze Two Annas.14 Half Pice. Bronze Half Anna.
Silver Coins of Edward VII Description Obverse Reverse One Twelfth Anna. Copper-Nickel Two Annas.15 One Rupee. Bronze Half Pice. Bronze One Anna. Bronze One Quarter Anna. Silver .
16 One Fourth Rupee. Silver Half Rupee. Silver One Rupee. Silver Coins of George V Denomination Obverse Reverse 1/12 Anna (One Pie) .
17 1/2 Pice 1/4 Anna (1 Pice) One Anna Two Annas Quarter Rupee Half Rupee One Rupee .
18 Fifteen Rupees Major Design Change Two Annas Four Annas Eight Annas Coins of George VI Denomination Obverse Reverse 1/12 Anna (One Pie) .
19 1/2 Pice 1/4 Anna (1 Pice) Half Anna One Anna Two Annas Quarter Rupee .
Silver Major Design Changes One Pice One Rupee. Nickel . Quaternary One Rupee.20 Half Rupee One Rupee.
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