Author Topic: Monetary system in India  (Read 11054 times)

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Offline Abhay

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Monetary system in India
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2010, 01:45:09 PM »
Thanks Salvete. This also partly answers my previous question.

Abhay
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Offline Salvete

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Monetary system in India
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2010, 03:01:13 PM »
Thanks for the link to the previous thread, Abhay.  I remember looking at it some time ago, and wondering what kind of discussion you were aiming at starting.  I have to say, even after reviewing both threads, I am still unsure of your preferred destination, or even what method of transport you want us to get aboard.  We could discuss exchange rates, how to use two or more coins, both called 'rupee' but of vastly different values,  purity of meatls used in coins, enforced changeover to fiduciary coinage, the problems faced by the ruler intent on introducing fiduciary currency beside states using non-fiduciary coins, methods of collecting and rates of customs duty and the effect on inter-state trade, or the same thing in relation to international trade and smuggling.  I noted the beautiful coins that you used to introduce the previous thread, one of which is pretty rare and another of which has been controversial in recent years.  Between them, they suggest discussions on a few very interesting bits of history.  Where shall we go?

Barry
Ultimately, our coins are only comprehensible against the background of their historical context.

akona20

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Re: Monetary system in India
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2010, 11:40:27 PM »
Where shall we go? Hmmm

Perhaps a quick look at the shroffs before the standard weight and fineness silver Rupee was introduced. We must also somewhat keep in mind the Mughals used silver while in the south gold was the utilised metal.

It was found by the East India company that nearly 1000 separate coins (of differing weights and fineness) circulated in greater India at any one time and the only way to work out what they were 'worth' was to call in a shroff to determine the true 'value'.

So again at this time we get to the notion that the Rupee was really a way of carrying a precious metal (silver) around and its absolute 'value' was determined daily. So if you lived in an area of a heavy rupee of absolute fineness it was worth more than an area of lighter less fine Rupees. (terms are used comparartively only)

The Rupee was not as such a 'pure' currency as we might expect in the west at the time where 240 pence made a pound (in Britain) for example because all the pounds and pennies were made equal as such.


akona20

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Re: Monetary system in India
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2010, 04:53:22 AM »
Here is another link to a very good article by Haider. It is some 80 pages long but there is a very interesting section on relative prices of copper, silver and gold and various other discussions on currency and monetary systems.

http://www.iisg.nl/hpw/papers/haider.pdf

Perhaps a quick read from page 40 will help.



Offline Salvete

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Re: Monetary system in India
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2010, 09:53:18 AM »
Thanks for the link, Akona.  That piece appears to summarise a lot of information from a large number of sources, many of which I have not seen, so the references and the bibliography it contains may well be the most useful part it.  It is always handy to have a number of good bibliographies to hand, for sources of relevant new data.  I have copied the whole thing, and will read it asap.

And your remarks about the saraf, schroff and small-time money changer, as well as the higher-level bankers are apposite to discussion of this matter, of course.  It is too easy to forget just what a complex, sophisticated system of banking and money circulation existed in Mughal India, and just how much more complicated it bacame as the Empire began to break up and independent 'Native Princes' and Europeans got into the act.  You also mention the gold/copper money systems in vogue in the peninsula, and we can just imagine the added complications when dealing with purchases and sales that crossed the pagoda/cash - mohur/rupee/paisa boundaries.  Apparently there were several dozen different pagodas current in the ex-Vijayanagara territories, and who knows how many types of fanam?  The proper study of the fanams of the 17th to 19th century south India has recently all but been made impossible by the numerous fake fanams emanating from Mysore, Bangalore and other dens of iniquity, unfortunately.  I once started a study of those coins, but after reading Hans Herrli's book and the fake fanam problem he describes, the whole idea lost its fascination for me.  The 'delete' key was put into overdrive.

Barry
Ultimately, our coins are only comprehensible against the background of their historical context.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Monetary system in India
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2011, 01:23:54 AM »
Thanks Akona20, Salvette and Engipress.  I've come across this rather late, but better late than never. I seem to continually underestimate the level of sophistication of empires past, Mughal included.
richie

Offline Salvete

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Re: Monetary system in India
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2011, 09:26:10 AM »
We all (anyway, most of us) have the same tendency, Rangnath.  It is a trap that tempts us to accept simplistic explanations that are usually wrong.  All the best

Salvete
Ultimately, our coins are only comprehensible against the background of their historical context.