Thursday, 2 July 2015

Presidency Coins – Bengal Presidency

                Marudhar Arts

The East India Company established its first factory in the Bengal region in 1633. Several factories were established in Orissa, Bengal and Bihar, and initially they were all administered from Madras. 

In 1698, the Company received rights over Calcutta, a fort was constructed there (Fort William), and in 1715 the Bengal Presidency was created. In 1756, contrary to the instructions of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, the Company engaged in a major fortification of the Fort and eventually the Nawab laid siege to it and captured it. 

This was the time when the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta" incident took place. After the Bengal forces captured the fort, some of the captured prisoners escaped, and the officer in charge placed the remaining 146 prisoners in a small 14 x 18 foot room overnight. A significant number perished (the number is not known exactly) from the heat, lack of water and from being trampled in the overcrowded conditions. 

The Company sent reinforcements commanded by Robert Clive, who recaptured the Fort in January 1757. As part of the peace treaty signed after this event, the Company secured from the Nawab the right to strike coins at their own mint in the style of the local issues from Murshidabad.Coinage began in June 1757 and, within a couple of weeks, the Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of the creation of the British Empire in India. After this battle, the Company acquired property rights over a large part of Bengal and a few years later, in 1764, after the Battle of Buxar, expanded their territory to include much of Bihar and Orissa and even parts of modern Uttar Pradesh. 

The basis for the Raj was firmly in place.The East India Company acquired the mint at Banaras from the Raja of Awadh in 1776, soon after the Battle of Buxar. The coins they issued from this mint showed a double regal year, the fixed RY 17 (the RY of the first British issues) and then the progressive RY until the death of Shah Alam II in his RY 49. Both Pridmore and KM list only the AH date 1197 on coins bearing the RY date of 25. This coin, however, bears the RY 25 along with an AH date of 1198. In the listings of these coins, Some renowned numismatists and connoisseurs raise a question mark on the mintmarks, indicating that they was not able to determine the mintmarks on the RY 27, AH 1200 coins.

This coin shows the mintmarks clearly, and, in particular, shows that the normal leaf sprig on the obverse is replaced by a five dot mintmark. Further, the cross that had been appearing under the fish on the coins of the previous few years has disappeared here.Shah Alam lost Bengal to the East India Company in 1765 and so issues after that time are British issues. This coin carries a star mintmark on the obverse (more or less in the center).

The later coins from Murshidabad replaced the star mintmark on the obverse with a crescent. This coin seems to be an error coin or a mule. Shah Alarm’s regal year 11 spanned AH 1183-1184 and records RY 11 coins with these two AH date. But this coin has an AH date of 1185! Since AH 1185 was already in Shah Alam's RY 12, this is clearly an error coin or a mule.

Although the mint name on this coin is Murshidabad, it is actually a Calcutta issue. A new mint was opened there in 1790, where machine struck coins like this one were issued. The lack of any privy marks proves that this was one of the initial issues from the mint. Some later coins have oblique left milling on the edge. 

In 1793, production of this type was split into four mints. The privy mark on this coin indicates that it is a Calcutta issue. Additional dots in the centers of the rosettes circled in black indicated Dacca, Murshidabad and Patna. This coin continues to have oblique left milling on the edge.The East India Company acquired the mint at Saharanpur in 1803 and operated the mint for only a couple of years, before shutting it down in 1805. These coins are quite rare and an aficionado/connoisseurs delight.

Marudhar Arts is hosting an Exclusive Coinage Auction which is now live on its website – (Auction No 24) 

We have a colossal repertoire of Exotic Presidency  Coins in Impeccable condition that are featured on the website and are in our possession. To know more about these cisterns of opulent legacies, please visit our website or call us at 080-65329800.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Presidency Coins-Madras Presidency

                                    Marudhar Arts

The permit granted to the East India Company by Venkatdri Naik in 1639 permitted it to "perpetually enjoy the privilege of mintage." This mint was run on contract by various dub ashes - Komati Chetties all - but used gold imported by the Company. In the 1650s, the Company decided it would run the mint itself and appointed English supervisors.

The Madras mint struck coins for in and around the company's territories in for the Northern Circars for nearly 200 years. The initial coins were dump coinage similar to those of the neighboring Hindu territories followed by close imitations of the Mogul coins of the Subah of Arcot.

In 1692, the mint was permitted to mint the silver rupees of the Mughals. A new mint was built in the Fort in 1695, and then rebuilt in 1727 in the northwest corner of the Fort, by what became known as the Mint Bastion. In 1742, a second mint was established in Chintadripet. The same year, the Fort mint was permitted to strike the Arcot rupee and Arcot coins of lower denominations. In 1792, the Chintadripet mint was moved to the Fort and the two mints became the gold and silver mints, minting star pagodas, which were replacing the Madras Pagodas, Arcot rupees and Madras and Arcot fanams and doodoos.

The Company decided to establish two bigger mints at Bombay and Calcutta in 1815. From 1835 - 1867 the mint also struck uniform coinage for circulation. The Madras mint assisted these mints and since its capacity was insignificant, the mint was finally closed down in 1869 to make way for the government press in the same premises. But Mint Street - once Thanga Salai - remains a Madras name.

Early Coins: Dump Coins

The earliest coins of the company in Madras were small silver pieces issued from their factory at Fort St. George in about 1670's. These coins were undated with two interlinked C's on the reverse (assigned to the reign of King Charles II).

During the 18th century silver coins were minted bearing the Company's bale mark (an orb and a cross) inscribed C.C.E (Charter Company of England) and in some cases G.C.E (Governor and company of merchants trading into the East Indies). All these issues were meant for use within the company's factory and surrounding areas and also for exchange with European traders. They were not meant for circulation in the interior of the country.

In 1742 company obtained permission from Nawab Sadatulla Khan of the Subah of Arcot to coin rupees in imitation of those struck at the imperial mint at Arcat. These coins were poorly struck with dies bigger than the blanks used. Hence, only a part of inscriptions are generally visible. They bear the name of Alamgir II with Sixth year of reign and have a 'lotus - mint mark'. This undated series continued for about 50 years. Subsequent issues had Hegira Date '1172' equivalent to 1758 A.D. irrespective of the year of minting. The R.Y-6 also appears on all issues.

Machine Struck Coins

In 1807 new machinery was introduced and mint produced 2 silver coins in European style with oblique milling. One series based on Hindu standard consisted of One and Two pagoda in gold, Half and Quarter pagoda and Fanams in silver. The copper coins consisted on Cash denominations.

The other series based on mogul standard were gold mohurs and fractions of mohurs : ¼, ⅓ and ½ . They issued rupees together with fractions down to ⅛ and 1⁄16 rupee in silver. Madras also issued 2 rupees coins. Although minted in 1807 and later all bear the frozen date "1172"A.H.

Copper coins in this series were (Dub) with inscriptions in Persian on one side and Tamil and Telugu inscriptions on the other side indicating the value in Dub units.

In Madras, there were copper coins for 2, 4 pies, 1, 2 and 4 paisa, with the first two denominated as ½ and 1 dub or 1⁄96 and 1⁄48 rupee. Madras also issued the Madras Fanam until 1815.

Although the two systems of coins were in circulation at the same time but they were unrelated.

3360 Cash = 42 Fanams = 1 Pagoda =31/2 Rupees = 168 (Dub)
1 Rupee = 48 (Dub)
1 (Dub) = 20 Cash

After 1818, Rupee was made the standard coin and the weight was fixed at 180 grains with smaller pieces in proportion. The pagodas and fanams were demonetized from that year.

Next issues were:-

1. 1812-1835: Struck at Madras Mint with 'Lotus' mint mark and indented cord milling.

2. 1823-1825: Struck at Calcutta with 'Rose' mint mark and upright milling.
3. 1830-1835: Struck at Calcutta with 'Rose' mint mark and upright milling but with a small crescent added on the reverse (rupee and half rupee coins) and on obverse (1/4 rupee coins).


The Northern Circars was a former division of Madras Presidency and consisted of present-day Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Coins for use of Northern Circars division of the Madras Presidency with headquarters at Musalipatnam were:-

SILVER: 4 Annas and 2 Annas
COPPER: 1/48 Rupee and 1/96 Rupee
The last set of coins were a set of 3 copper coins in the denominations of 4 Pai, 2 Pai and 1 Pai issued during the period 1824-1825.

Marudhar Arts is hosting an Exclusive Coinage Auction which is now live on its website – (Auction No 23)

We have a colossal repertoire of Exotic Madras Presidency Coins in Impeccable condition that are featured on the website and are in our possession. To know more about these cisterns of opulent legacies, please visit our website or call us at 080-65329800.