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Hammered coin of Gwalior

Started by Rangnath, September 19, 2007, 06:26:56 PM

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Perhaps some of you looking at the following images can help me with my questions. Which marks are mint marks and which represent the ruler? 
The coin from the Fitzwilliam museum is identified as a coin from Gwalior.  Does that mean that both coins are from Gwalior? Could a mint within Gwalior state have produced my coin for use within another state? 
I will post both images.  The subtle differences are as interesting to me as the more stark ones.


and the Fitzwilliam coin.

BC Numismatics

Richie,it is possible that it could have been struck for Gwalior.It could even be possible that it was struck for another state,but using a type derived from the Gwaliori design.



This is indeed a AE paisa of Gwalior State and called "Tegh-shahi" paisa, because of the dagger to the right of "Jalus". They were produced at the Gwalior Fort mint. The Gwalior "Tegh-shahi" paisa is extremely common and many of them might have been struck at a later date. As I informed you already on another occasion, it was under the silent approval of the Rajah of Khetri and his local representatives who received their percentages, local wealthy "Sahookars" had less fortunate members of their caste, as well as "Lohars" produce great quantities of counterfeit short weight copper pice (Especially of Gwalior type) out of locally mined copper. These coins were transported by camel loads to their agencies in towns like Agra, Mathura, Ajmer and Gwalior. It is supposed that monthly 20 camels loads laden with counterfeit pice made their way from the mining area to Agra. As each camel carried some 300 rupees worth of pice this transport route alone must have represented an annual production worth of 72,000 rupees! Apparently the demand for such coppers must have been enormous, even in British territory, like for example Agra, which the great coin factories in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras for decades already had been providing with new standard copper coins. (Ref.: Foreign Department Proceedings, Finance-A, Juli 1868, Proceedings Nos. 11-13, 16-20; Jan Lingen & Jan Lucassen, The 'mansuri' or munsoori paisa' and its use: combining numismatic and social history of India, c. 1830-1900, Numismatic Digest vol. 31, 2007. p.187-220.)


That makes sense to me, Oesho. If the British, in their infinite stupidity insist on producing good coins that means they are unaware of the law of their own great lord, Sri Gresham. You produce as many of the small lightweight coppers as you can, while retaining the heavy British pieces, which you remelt into more small, lightweight coppers. The process keeps the sweaty Brits busy ad infinitum, so that they won't think of new ways to gauge money out of you, while it's making you rich, as long as the Shah of London and the Shah of Delhi are too busy weakening each other to stop you from making counterfeits. The risk would be small to the financiers and highest for those actually making the forgeries, which are lower castes anyway.

This explains why the early coins of British India are so much harder to find then the later ones. This thread has added to my understanding of the period. Thanks, Oesho!

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


Just one small point, Figleaf.  The main problem was not that the British coins were too heavy, rather that they were too light.  Probably best described as fiduciary coins, the copper in them was not much more than a third of the value that they were designed to pass at.  Hence, the Indian users of copper coins were suspicious of them, would not give the value in goods that they were meant to represent, and resisted their introduction.  They preferred to use even under-weight copies of the old Gwalior and Awadh coins (among others) because they weighed more.  Nobody, so far as I can find out, was holding the Presidency coins in preference to the 'counterfeit' native currency.  So, although the Brits were, in your opinion, 'stupid' and 'sweaty'  there is no evidence that their coins were being held and demonetised at a profit - rather the reverse.  Then there's the matter of what is and what is not a forgery, counterfeit or 'false coin' in the Indian situation, and you would have to look at the records of cases taken before the magistrates (e.g. in Agra) and the miscreants charged with forgery in its many forms.  I find it hard to get my head around the Indian traditions and laws regarding minting rights in the various metals, but when I have, and when you have, too, perhaps we can have a proper online discussion of these complicated matters, which will, I think, interest quite a few people.
Best wishes.
Salvete (a sweaty, stupid Brit.)
Ultimately, our coins are only comprehensible against the background of their historical context.


Lighten op, Salvete, I was quoting the Rajah of Khetri in the best tradition of "It ain't half hot mum" And watch out for my other comments on this site on Britishness in the great tradition of "Dad's army".

Your reasoning is fine and I do of course accept that British coins were lighter than traditional Indian coins, but there are serious indications that the Indians preferred older coins to newer ones. This is probably because new coins tended to be lighter. In other words, even Indian states' coins would in time become lighter than official British coins.

In this sort of situation, the interests of the payer and payee are different. The payer wants to offload the lightest coins, the payee wants to receive the heaviest coins. This conflict may be resolved by convincing arguments, such as a long, sharp bayonet, or by the preference for older coins. Obviously, British coins are "new". The coins of Gwalior look older. If you are not a money sharpie, you (may) prefer the Gwalior coin (I don't have enough data to compare them to British coins), so a market is there: buy British coins, if necessary at a discount, melt them and make your own old looking coins which you can issue at face.

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


I believe Peter is right, Salvete. After all, if anyone knows about cheaping out, it's a Dutchman! ;)