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Bombay rupee in the name of William III and Mary

Started by abhinumis, December 26, 2021, 05:51:02 PM

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Hi all,
A coin in my wishlist for long finally fulfilled

Bombay Presidency, Mumbai mint, silver rupee struck in the names of King William and Queen Mary (1689 - 1694) in the Mughal style, RY 5, PR 27, Stevens EIC 1.26, 11.52g. Obv: Farsi legend Sikka zad Dauran King Uilyam ein (Kween Meree) ("Coin struck during the reign of King William and Queen Mary"). Rev: Farsi legend Sanah Julus 5 Angrez Shaheen Zarb Munbai.
About extremely fine, Extremely rare.

The British East India Company at Bombay operated its own mint since 1672, but found trade very difficult as their coins with English designs were not readily accepted by the local businessmen. They could not officially strike coins in the name of the Mughal emperor, as they were technically not his subjects. To remedy this situation, they resorted to strike coins in the names the British sovereigns but resembling Mughal coins in every other respect such as the use of Farsi script.

The coins were brought to the notice of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb soon and he was very annoyed at their sight. He sent Khafi Khan, a nobleman who would later become famous also as a Mughal chronicler, to Bombay and threatened the British with dire consequences if the coins were not withdrawn immediately. The British complied with the Emperor's demand under the threat of an impending military action. The coins were all withdrawn and melted down in 1696. The issue was thus very short-lived.

Coins of this type were unknown until 1960, when P L Gupta located a few specimens in the collection of the Prince of Wales Museum (now CSMVS) in Bombay. He published them along with historical context as outlined by Khafi Khan. Coins dated in RY4, 5 and 6 are now known.


"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


Wow! That's one significant coin. This was after the conclusion of Child's War, where the BEIC lost with heavy casualty. So the British were trying to show their might again by striking this coin.



Agreed with Saikat. I don't quite see it as a flexing of English muscles, as I think the English merchants of Bombay would have preferred safe turnover to risky profit. I think the situation of Bombay in those days was similar to that of the Caribbean islands or Monaco in later centuries: having a relatively dense population and little production to offer, it ran a trade deficit with the neighbours and the sponsoring country (even if a ship came in, most of the profit would go to the company, not to the city) that sucked cash out.

The solution of the Caribbean islands was to overvalue good coins and continually devalue their own coins against good coins. Monaco's solution was to go into piracy, slave trading and later gambling and tax evasion. This coin was an even better solution than that of the Caribbean islands of Monaco: rather than devaluating or going into shady activities, the English brought their own silver and struck good coins.

The problem was rather that coinage (as in England) was a source of income, therefore a prerogative of the ruler. That could become a problem only when the ruler was a military threat to the imitator. Note that Afghan and Iranian rulers could issue coins on the Indian rupee standard when the Moguls were weak. That observation boils down to bad diplomacy. What the English should perhaps have done is to make the problem Indian (if we don't have cash we can't pay our taxes to you) and look for a solution that satisfies both parties.

A fantastic piece of history, Abhishek. Thank you very much for showing it and congratulations with the great acquisition.

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


I had written a note on the
. In that post, I had a note also on these coins.

The note is as follows:
The British were permitted by a charter issued by their King – King James II on 31st December 1600 AD to mint coins for trade in India. They did attempt to mint such coins at the island of Mumbai, which was a gift to the King of Britain as Dowry from the Portuguese. This act invited the wrath of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who ordered that these coins be destroyed. He later permitted the English traders to set up a mint at Mumbai, but imposed a condition that the coins minted in their mint must adhere strictly to the style and the specifications of the Imperial Mughal coinage and also decreed that they be considered current across the empire, at par with the Mughal Coinage. This continued for some time with the English mint at Mumbai / Munbai minting Mughal style coins in the name of the Mughal Emperor and meeting all the standards of the Mughal coins. (See image - Early British)

Clive got the right to mint coins for the Bengal Presidency of the East India Company by the treaty of Alinagar signed with the Nawab of Bengal,Mirza Muhammad Siraj Ud Daula on Feb 9, 1757. These coins too were minted in the Mughal style and standards mandated.

The French too minted their own coins in India when their governor, Dupleix De Volton, got the rights to mint coins in Pondicherry, from the Nawab of Arcot around 1693. These coins too were struck were in the name and style of the Mughal coinage. Coinage struck at the other French mints also followed the same pattern.


PS: I have probably got the name and the time of the charter wrong. I will correct it as soon as I am able to get the correct details.
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


Quote from: Saikat on December 27, 2021, 03:45:03 AM
Wow! That's one significant coin. This was after the conclusion of Child's War, where the BEIC lost with heavy casualty. So the British were trying to show their might again by striking this coin.
Thanks Saikat. This event is succeeding the Child's war in 1689. This coin is related to the Piracy of Ganj-I-sawai. The Ganj-i-Sawai (Persian/Hindustani: گنج سواہی, Ganj-i-Sawai, in English "Exceeding Treasure", often anglicized as Gunsway) was an armed Ghanjah dhow (trading ship) belonging to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb which, along with his escort Fateh Muhammed, was captured on 7 September 1695 by the English pirate Henry Every en route from present day Mocha, Yemen to Surat, India. Aurangzeb blamed the East India Company of being in cahoots with the pirates and sent Khafi Khan to Surat to report the matter and take control of the factory of Surat. Khafi Khan found these William and Mary rupee in Surat and sent them back to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was enraged on seeing the coins of the 'impure' king and threaten to take military action on the EIC. Aurangzeb effectively cut off English trade with India as he refused to reopen the ports until Henry Avery was caught and executed for his crimes. The East India Company reconciled with the Mughal Emperor by fully compensating his losses, and filed an insurance claim for £350,000 and executed 6 members of his crew who were caught although they could not catch Henry Every. They also melted all the coins in the name of William III and Mary in 1696. Hence coins of ry 4,5 and 6 are only known. Point to note that the ry is the regnal year of William and Mary. Very few of these rupee have survived and hence the rarity.


Another very interesting discovery was made this year regarding this piracy of GANJ-I-SAWAI and Henry Avery. It seems that the pirate fled to America. Do read the thread attached.


Great find Abhinumis and thank you for sharing the history behind it. Very interesting indeed.


Congratulations on getting this significant and beautiful coin!
Defending this hobby against a disapproving family since 1998.