Identifying Ancient Indian Coins - Akbar gold mohurs - real or fake

Started by pjmat2, July 30, 2021, 05:34:49 AM

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pjmat2

Hello all,

I am an amateur numismatist, my grandfather was the consummate historian and collector. I spent many hours with him as a youth, listening to stories and looking through his stamps and coins, all of which came back to an important moment in history. He never collected on a value basis, always on a narrative he found appealing. Like when he picked up an ancient roman coin, he asked me to imagine that this very coin gained someone entrance into the colosseum to spectate the gladiators. How I didn't appreciate those moments enough, at the time, but they remain as such cherished memories now.

He left me some coins, which, years ago drove an interest in me to identify, research and admire the unlabelled assortment. The European, American and even the Ottoman coins were very easy, but the ancient coins, in particular the Indian and Chinese, completely mystify me.

I've had help in the Coin Community Forums over the years, Seeker55 is a gun, but even he said these next two coins are for the World of Coins crew. So could anyone shed any light?

I spent ages looking into it years ago, but never really nailed an exact match. Then gave up...until now.

The round coin weighs 10.2 grams, 20 mm in diameter. Some sort of Mohua of the Moghal era.

The square coin weighs 11.8 grams, 19 mm and same era I think. Seeker55 said the following:

"The square coin is a "heavy mohur" based on its weight. There are significant similarities to this heavy mohur of Akbar

https://www.zeno.ru/showphoto.php?photo=155894

but it is not a match (some of the writing differs). In the lower right corner of the first photo there's a possible date of AH 1170 (other interpretations of the date are possible). If it is 1170 this date would lie during the reign of Alamgir II, but I didn't see any similar mohurs from his time in Krause or Zeno. If I had to guess I'd guess it is a heavy mohur of Akbar, but that potential attribution is neither detailed enough nor backed up by adequate documentation. The second photo of the square one is upside down and should be corrected to help with attribution.

For the round one here's a coin that matches reasonably on one side but not the other (however this could well be a standard inscription used on many coins).

https://www.zeno.ru/showphoto.php?photo=40376

The pattern of the enclosure on both sides is called a mihrabi border, mimicing the shape of niches in mosques."

Please, if someone can finally put my little mystery to bed, that will be a huge void alleviated.

Kind Regards
Paul

cmerc

Both coins bear the name of Akbar, from the Mughal era, the weight and design matching that of a gold mohur. However, both appear to be later-day imitations of real mohurs. These were produced by jewelers after Akbar, probably intended as presentations or gifts.

These are fairly good copies, suggesting copies during the earlier period. There is also the possibility that I am wrong, and these are official issues, although the script appears to be a somewhat crude, which is why I think these are copies.

Avik
Defending this hobby against a disapproving family since 1998.

Figleaf

I won't pretend I can read the script, but we have a couple of good tools on the site. If you go here and scroll down to Muhammad Akbar you can see how his name appears on his coins. Compare that with the lower picture of the square coin, second and third line and you can see for yourself that the coin is indeed in the name of Akbar the great. That's the good news.

Now for the bad news, scroll all the way up again and note the AH dates for Akbar I: 963 - 1014. There's a little complication here. The date was added on dies at the last moment by an unlucky junior engraver, who had to make do with whatever space he could find. In the lower right corner, three numbers are clear: ١١٧, which is 117. The fourth digit can be in front and left out, in which case the date must be 1117 but that's too late for Akbar. It can also be behind, in which case you have three options:

  • It's the dot right behind, making the date 1170, but the dot may well belong to a letter
  • It's the vertical line behind the dot at 4 o'clock, so the date is 1171.
  • It's either off flan or somewhere else and the date is 117x.
Whatever the case, the date is too late for Akbar.

Side note: if you don't know Arabic numbers, look here. As a bonus, you can convert dates on this site.

Since date and ruler don't match, I agree with cmerc that this is likely jewellery or a religious object. These are common in India, as precious metals are seen as a lightweight security and useful in some religious ceremonies at home.

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

THCoins

Hi Paul, and welcome to WoC.

I agree with the opinion of Avik. These are likely later made jewellers copies. As themselves, these are collectionable items, but not as valueable as the real deal. Quality is fairly good. If you know what it is supposed to read, you can recognize the different elements. But especially in the square coin, there are flaws in the calligraphy which would not be expected on the original. Also because these partly are religious texts, which are highly regarded, such errors would be considered unacceptable at the time. This suggests this was copied by a later engraver who was not fluent in the script.

I would be interested in the opinion of some of our Mughal experts.

Anthony

Seeker55

I might recommend changing the title of this post to something like "Akbar gold mohurs - real or fake?" to help get the right eyes on them. The fact that the square coin has a weight of 11.8 grams either means it's a "heavy mohur" or some kind of copy where they couldn't quite get the weight right. Hopefully an expert in this type of coin will come along and be able to answer definitively.

pjmat2

Thank you all so very much.

I guess the good news is that I didn't get swindled by imitation coins, shame though in that gramps will probably be turning in his grave, as he detested fakes.

If I can work out how to change the title, I'll try that, but I am sure the information in this thread would be accurate given the expertise here.

pjmat2


Seeker55

Cmerc, Figleaf, and THCoins deserve much credit for their observations. I just got the discussion started.
I think overall they've established a convincing argument that these are "jeweller's copies."
If you want to change the title go to your first post, click "modify", and type a new title, then post the changes.
Meanwhile best of luck to you.

cmerc

I wouldn't mind having these in my collection, as long as the price paid was the bullion value. These are very handsome copies, and have a history of their own. Such copies often come up in reputed auctions (generally correctly attributed as copies) and see active bidding. Must give credit to your gramps, even though he did not like "fakes". These don't count as fakes, but rather later-day jeweler's copies.
Defending this hobby against a disapproving family since 1998.