Then and Now: Calcutta MintCalcutta(Kolkatta) Mint c.1829
Watercolour of the Calcutta Mint by Thomas Prinsep (1800-1830) dated c.1829. Inscribed on the album page: 'Calcutta' and 'New Mint Calcutta'. This view is taken from the south. This Mint is situated north of Howrah Bridge on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River. It was designed by Major W.N. Forbes and formally opened in 1831.
Kolkata’s Old Silver Mint, a landmark that has seen the city change dramatically over the past 184 years, is a crumbling symbol of the city’s rich heritage. The peeling plaster of the walls and wild growth of plants fail to veil the grandeur of the Doric columns of the mint.Because of want of proper maintenance, the mint has, for over decades, stood silently as a haunted house in the busy commercial area in Burrabazar.
It is said that Raja Nabakrishna Chowdhury at Sovabazar, Prince Dwarakanath Tagore at Jorasanko and Raja Prasanna Thakur at Pathuriaghata — the three outstanding personalities of Bengali renaissance — had played a pioneering role in the establishment of the Old Silver Mint in the business area.
The mint was of great importance since it was the only one that was producing silver coins, which were in circulation at that time. As many as 3,00,000 to 6,00,000 silver coins were manufactured here daily. Gold, copper and bronze coins were also made here, and the facility for manufacturing medals was also available.Calcutta/Kolkatta Mint c.1878
The old yellowish Grecian structure that was once the old mint complex of Kolkata, was built on an area of 12.5 acres. Its foundation stone was laid in March, 1824, and it became operational from August 1, 1829. Silver coins were minted here till 1952 and, thereafter, it was functioning as a silver refinery. But that, too, ceased to function in 1972, and the silver reserves from here were transferred to a new mint at Taratola in 1985.
Since then, the old Kolkata mint has remained closed, and the buildings remained neglected and uncared for. It now acts as a storehouse of old machinery and houses a battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Although a decision was taken to develop the mint, which is a heritage site, into a museum along with the development of the area for tourism under a public-private partnership (PPP) with a set deadline of September, 2011, much progress is yet to be seen.Calcutta/Kolkatta Mint c.2007