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D. João III, 1521-1557, India Portuguesa, Dinheiro, Cruz de S. Jorge vazada.

Started by Luis Cozeto, September 12, 2022, 11:15:13 AM

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Luis Cozeto

A.G. 18.01
Diâmetro: 19,5 mm
Cunhada ou em Lisboa em calaim (estanho fino) com gravuras mais perfeitas ou em Malaca com cunhos enviado de Lisboa.

Minted either in Lisbon in calaim (fine tin) with finer engraving or in Malacca with stamps sent from Lisbon.


Just about all early coins of Portuguese India are hard to find and this series (there is a 10 dinheiro piece with the same design) is certainly no exception.

Obv: voided cross, +IOA:III:POR:ET:AL(:rex)
Rev: armillary sphere

Your specimen is beautifully preserved. What made me smile is the straight edge from 12 0'clock to 1 o'clock (on the first picture). Apparently, someone decided the coin was slightly overweight and adjusted it with a file. Such attention for detail to save a few milligrams of cheap metal.

Calaim is not often encountered as a coin metal. It is a specialty of Malacca, but it was also used in Portuguese India. The name is thought to be derived from an Indian mine called Kala, where it was found in a natural state. Other sources say Calaim comes from the Arabic word kala'i, tin.

However, Calaim is not tin, but an alloy of tin and lead. It was used at some scale in China, Japan, Thailand and Birma to produce kitchen and tableware as well as cheap jewellery. On occasion, it seems even to have been used as temple roof cover. When new, it resembles silver, it is harder than pure tin and its weight is closer to silver than to tin. Pyrard de Laval reported in 1615 that the inhabitants of Goa cut plates of Calaim in pieces to serve as small change.

Numista 49526
Zeno 21015, 182919, 293176 (all assigned to Malacca)

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