Author Topic: Unidentified coins or tokens from South India? [Possible Opium Trade Coinage?]  (Read 453 times)

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Offline Seeker55

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I've been completely unable to identify the following two thick, heavy items that come from South India, though they didn't necessarily originate there.
Are they coins, tokens, weights, game pieces?
I hope somebody will recognize these.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Number 1
Copper/bronze 11.8 g, 22-24 mm across, 3 mm thick, sword with dots on one side, plant on the other

Number 2
Copper/bronze 15.0 g, 19-21 mm across, 5 mm thick, standing stick figure with elongated head on one side, curves with dots on the other
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 09:52:29 AM by Figleaf »

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Unidentified coins or tokens from South India?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2019, 02:49:47 PM »
Pretty enigmatic and not very informative. Moving very cautiously here, I would say tokens are not often encountered in earlier Indian numismatics and these pieces look too expensive and heavy for game playing. They don't seem to fit into the series of Burmese style gambling tokens, though I note that some of those are brass or copper. I do note that number 1 has the weight of a rupee. A weight for a merchant doesn't fit with a sword (power), though. The plant might be highly stylised white poppy (opium producing), which opens the possibility of khaccha pice used as stand-ins for rupees.

Perhaps others have more sophisticated thoughts.

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

Offline Seeker55

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Re: Unidentified coins or tokens from South India?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2019, 04:15:50 PM »
Many thanks for your thoughts, Figleaf. Anything helps at this point. Thanks for the hint on the poppy plant. I agree they don't really look like game pieces, and are rather elaborate and heavy for tokens, so I'm leaning toward coins (or stand-ins for coins), but still don't know what kind. I hope some others will chime in with any ideas.

Considering the greatly elongated head on the second one, and the difficulty in attributing them, perhaps these were issued by aliens?


Edit added later:
Following up on the opium theme, I discovered some mentions of unofficial opium trade coinage, for example the second half of the publication at
https://www.nla.gov.au/sites/default/files/webform/publication1part_2_.pdf
There aren't many photos, but it seems possible from the descriptions of the coins  (coppers with no writing, denominations, or dates) it's possible that these fall into that category.
It seems that many opium trade coins were made near Malwa from about 1790-1890. However, it is also stated that many of these are lightweight and crude copies of other coins, so I don't know if the present coins in question fit.
Will certainly appreciate any further thoughts anyone may have on this.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2019, 03:42:38 AM by Seeker55 »

Offline Figleaf

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The last article in the link you give is written by passive WoC member Salvete. He no longer collects coins and sold his collection. IIRC, his notes went to asm. You may want to try a PM to both.

Please note that the khaccha pice are derived from official coins. They drift away from the originals in time. They are used as pice. Your pieces do not look like official coins and their weight is similar to a rupee. In that sense, they are likely to have been used differently, but they might have a common origin with the khaccha pice, as a stand-in for a silver rupee.

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

Offline Seeker55

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Thank you for the ideas, Peter. I will plan to contact them.