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Moghul Akbar 1/2 Dam, Lahore mint, KM 23.5, 1585 AD

Started by Rangnath, January 26, 2008, 06:42:29 PM

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I would guess this to be a Moghul coin (Akbar?)  It is 10.2 grams and 18 mm across.  I am confused by the numbers. 
I see a 1 and  3 followed by a back slash and then a 6.  What does the back slash mean?  136 doesn't make sense to me. Maybe the "6" isn't a six and 13 is the regnal year.


Dear Richie, your right it is a copper coin of the Mughal emperor Akbar.
It is a beautiful Ilahi type 1/2 dam or 1/4 tanka, also called a nisfi.
The coin is struck at Lahore in the 36th Ilahi year, in the month Di (zodiac sign Capricorn).
Obv.: Zarb Falus Lahore (Copper coin struck at Lahore)
Rev.: (Mah) Di Ilahi 36 (in the month Di Ilahi (year) 36).
Ref.: KM#23.5
As I told you it is a very attractive coin and I have only the Dam (1/2 tanka) in my collection. The 1/2 Dam is still missing and must be much more scarce. Congratulations with this acquisition.


Thank you very much Oesho. As with the Mahmudi, the dealer who sold this to me listed it as an "ancient Indian coin". 
On the coin, the numbers of significance are the 3 and 6?, hence the 36th Ilahi year.  That places the coin in time to about 999 AH or 1585 AD.  In the grand scheme of things, the coin was minted just yesterday, though well before the first English Settlement in North America!
I am absolutely delighted to have been able to hold this treasure.


It is quite exceptional for a coin to carry not only a year, but also a month. The only other series I know are Irish gun money.

In my 1st edition of KM17, there's only KM23.7, which makes sense, because, as Rangnath mentioned, this coin was minted in the 16th century.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


In Indian Numismatics nothing seems 'quite exceptional'. During his 30th regnal year, Akbar introduced the Ilahi year, using Persian month on the coin. So from then onwards, the coins not even bear the (regnal)year, but also the month. These months are the same as the month of zodiac, only they have Persian names.
During the reign of Akbar's successor, Jahangir, instead of the month, the sign of the zodiac was put on the coin. This are the famous zodiac mohurs and rupees.
In silver zodiac rupees were only issued from Ahmadabad (only for 5 months). In gold most issues are from Agra. Some of the rare silver issues of Agra may have been struck from dies intended for gold coins.


Perhaps this is an example of one?  I guess technically, it was issued by Jahangir's wife?


Dear Richie, This is indeed a zodiac rupee of Jahangir. For a better specimen (from my collection) see:
On this site also the history behind the issue of zodiac coins is given.
It's just a fancy story that the zodiac coins were struck in the name of Nur Jahan. Regular silver rupees were struck, by authority of Jahangir, in the name of Nurjahan in Agra, Ahmadabad, Akbarnagar (rare), Lahore, Patna and Surat. From Kashmir and Lahore mint there are also zodiac mohurs in the name of Nur Jahan known. All the coins struck in the name of Nur Jahan, do also bear her name. See for example:


The following was taken from Oesho's "zeno" site and posted here, I hope, by permission.


Nur al-Din Muhammad Jahangir, AH1014-1037/AD1605-1627, Zodiac Rupee Aries (month: Farwardin), mint: Ahmadabad, date: AH1027/Ry.13.
Beginning April 1618 (Julian calendar), Jahangir entered in his diary an innovation in coinage "Prior to this, it has been the rule that one side of gold coins my name has been engraved, and on the other side the name of the minting place, the month, and the regnal year. Around this time it occurred to me that instead of the month a figure of the constellation representing the month should be depicted. For example, for the month of Farwardin a figure of Aries could be made, and for the month of Ardibihisht the figure of Taurus, and so on for every month in which a coin was minted one side would bear a picture of the constellation in which the sun rose. This method is peculiarly my own and has never been used before." Ref.: The Jahangirnama, translated, edited and annotated by Wheeler M. Thackston, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Jahangir was at that time residing at Ahmadabad, where his innovation was put immediately in practice and silver rupees with the figure of Aries [month Farwardin 10th March to 11th April (Julian calendar) or 21st March to 22nd April (Gregorian calendar)] were struck.

For the next four months rupees where struck with the figure of Taurus (month: Ardibihisht), Gemini (month: Khurdad), Cancer (month: Tir) and Leo (month: Amardad).
Despite that Jahangir left Ahmadabad on the 21st of Shahrewar (2 September 1618, Julian calendar) for Agra, no rupees with the image of Virgo has ever been traced. Probably because Jahangir appointed his son prince Khuram (future emperor Shah Jahan) a staunch Muslim, as viceroy of the Subah of Gujarat and governor of Ahmadabad. By the orders of the governor and future emperor Shah Jahan, the coining of the Zodiac rupees at Ahmadabad seems to have been forbidden.

The next issue of a zodiac coin, however, is a gold mohur struck at Fathepur (Sikri). Jahangir, on its way from Gujarat to Agra, stopped for three months at Fathpur Sikri, as a plague had broken out at the capital Agra. During this short stay the very rare zodiacal coin of Aries, dated AH1028/Ry.14, was struck at Fathpur mint.
The zodiacal coins of Ahmadabad are all struck in silver, most other zodiac coins are of gold and the majority struck at the capital Agra. See coin #13777
The gold zodiac mohurs attracted already in the middle of the 17th century the fancy of collectors and as the demand could not meet the supply, they got imitated. Consequently original zodiac mohurs are rarely offered for sale these days.



In the later days of his reign, Jahangir's physical and mental powers had begun to fail; so he left the administration to his queen Nur Jahan and was himself contended, in his own words, by a seer of wine and half a seer of meat. So, by the nineteenth year, Nur Jahan was virtually the ruler of the empire. She left nothing to chance and proclaimed her de facto authority through the coins that were issued thenceforward from Agra, Ahmadabad, Akbarnagar, Allahabad, Kashmir, Lahore, Patna and Surat.

The above coin of Lahore shows a very rare couplet which reads:
Obv.: Zi nam-i-Shah Jahangir ta shudh par nur
Rev.: Fazudah Nur Jahan ru-i-sikkah Lahore
(From the name of Shah Jahangir the face of the coin of Lahore has become full of light / It has been increased by [the addition of] the name of Nur Jahan.)

Date AH1035/Ry.21

This type was first published by Framji J. Thanawala in Numismatic Supplement V., p.125-127 (1904). The legend as read by Mr. Thanawala, was partly corrected by H.Nelson Wright in an editorially note at the end.
R.B. Whitehead published a similar rupee from the Cabinet of the American Numismatic Society in the Numismatic Chronicle, Fifth Series, vol. III (1923), "Some Notable coins of the Mughal Emperors of India, part I". Pl. VIII #117. The above coin is so far the third known specimen, with this particular couplet.


I would suppose that ths sweet couplet had a political purpose of strenghening Empress Nur's hold on power, right? 
The Zodiac coin as well as the couplet Rupee are just incredible.  The Zodiac motif seems so modern. I wonder if it was received at the time with enthusiasm or misgivings? I wonder if there was a difference in its reception between Shah Jahan's Hindu and Moslem royal families?


The reception of these zodiac coins seems not to be very enthusiastic. As soon as Shah Jahan was appointed Subadar of Gujarat and governor of Ahmadabad I seems to have stopped the issue of these coins. All the zodiac coins were struck at town were at that time the emperor was residing. None of the other mint towns struck zodiac rupees.
As mentioned before, in the later days of  Jahangir's reign, he left the administration to his queen Nur Jahan. So, by the 19th year, Nur Jahan was virtually the ruler of the empire. She left nothing to chance and proclaimed her de facto authority through the coins.
As soon as soon as Shah Jahan came to the throne, he imposed a death penalty for the use of these coins as well as those having the zodiacal signs and ordered that they should be returned to the mint and melted. For this reason, these coins are pretty rare.


I think that the death penalty would definitely restrain my enthusiasm for the coin!
I suppose that Shah Jahan's decision was, in addition to being religious, a political one.  Perhaps the Zodiac coins irritated certain Mullahs, shaykhs and Imams? Or perhaps Shah Jahan wasn't willing to address himself to complaints of substance (taxation) but was wiling to eliminate the fanciful coins of his father.