Coins of the British Commonwealth - Sailana.

Started by BC Numismatics, July 21, 2007, 09:51:24 PM

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BC Numismatics

Here's another section that will be of interest to some members here.It is about the coins of Sailana.I have got the 1912 1/4 Anna,which depicts the familiar crowned portrait of King George V,which was designed by an Australian named Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal.

Here's an article about Sailana; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailana .

Here's an article about Sir Bertram Mackennal; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Bertram_Mackennal .

Aidan.

Rangnath

Aidan,
I once visited Ratlam, a larger town than Sailana but near by. But I have never even heard of the name "Sailana"!  What an interesting area of the world.
Isn't it amazing that so small a place would issue its own coinage?
Any idea which coinage producing Indian state is in fact the smallest?
richie

BC Numismatics

Richie,I don't know which Indian princely state was the smallest coin-issuing one,espescially after coming under British suzerainty.There were states that had a population as small as 100 to 200 people.

The coins of Sailana are not easy to find,but the 1912 1/4 Anna does turn up from time to time,especially in old collections.

Aidan.

Rangnath

Aidan,
Which states had populations less than 1,000 people? They recieved recognition from the British? 
Richie

BC Numismatics

Richie,there were over 500 Indian princely states that were recognised by the British.As to which ones that had populations of 1,000 people or less,I don't know.

Here's an article; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_Princely_States .

Aidan.

Rangnath

Thanks Aidan,
I can see that I have lots of research to do in the future. 
Richie

Figleaf

#6
Here's a scan of the Edward VII coin. It is a British vision of what a civilized Indian coin ought to look like: it ought to look like an English coin. If it hadn't been for the few nagari characters it would have been altogether western. If the population wasn't too busy surviving and keeping other tribes and castes in their proper place they would have hated it.

To balance this outrage against the Indian culture, I'll show a coin that is an Indian vision of what a British Indian coin should look like. :D

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

Figleaf

#7
As promised, here is a coin of Bharatpur, KM 157. Jaswant Singh ruled a tiny state and he must have been a clever man. He knew he could keep his wiggle room only by pleasing the Raj as he had obviously pleased the Moghuls, probably by keeping the Hindu population in check while being a muslim. So he made a coin as he'd done before, but adapted to the new ruler. Het kept one side for himself. His name is written in at least half-decent Arabic script, giving the coin a familiar, and therefore trustworthy look. As a concession to the sweaty locals, he changed from Muhammedan to the locally used Vikrama dating: 1916 (1859 AD). However, to make sure his subjects knew their place, he put the symbols of his power, the katar and a star, right next to the date (on this coin, only half of the katar is on the flan and the star is almost completely off the flan.)

Obviously, Jaswant Singh had seen Indian rupees. The new rulers liked to put a portrait on their coin. Muslims frown on pictures of people, but hey, Jaswant wanted to show his flexibility. The legend is simply "Victoria" in nice, elegant arabic letters, rather than those blocks the English liked that looked too much like ugly nagari. Intelligent people can read arabic, after all. A denomination is superfluous. After all, be honest, a silver piece of this size can only be a Rupee. What else can it be?

If the British would have been able to come up with a coin like this and realize, that in India this was a superior design, they would have been able to hold on to India much longer. Instead, Jaswant Singh was the last ruler of Bharatpur to issue coins.

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

Rangnath

I imagine that both small states had to outsource the minting; they may have been too small to have that kind of expertise.  Assuming that I'm correct, would the Sailana coin have been minted directly under a British supervised mint and the Bharatpur coin minted under the auspices of, perhaps, a larger state?
richie

BC Numismatics

Richie,the Sailana coin would have been struck at the Bombay Mint & imported into the state.

The coins of Bharatpur were struck at a native mint located somewhere within the state itself.

Aidan.

Figleaf

Sailana had its own mint, which struck traditional copper paisa. The British colonial types (KM 15 and 16) were struck in Calcutta. I just realized why you thought more of Ratlam than of Sailana. Ratlam is an old state, while Sailana could wriggle away from Ratlam only in 1709. The town of Sailana was founded only in 1730, but the Raja was paying heavy tribute to Sindhia to remain independent. There couldn't have been much money left to develop the town of Sailana. Ratlam was ruled by te junior branch of Jodhpur. Its important allies must have given it far more breathing space.

Bharatpur had mints in the town of Bharatpur as well as in Braj Indrapur. Older coins were also struck at Dig and Kumber (both using the mint name Mahe Indrapur, but other mint marks). By "mint", don't think of a Western type installation complete with all kinds of machines, but rather of a more or less mobile operation that would make sure the Raja wouldn't run out of money when travelling around.

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

BC Numismatics

Peter,you have said that the Islamic faith frowns on depicting portraits.If this was the case,then why does the very regal portrait of the Amir of Bahawalpur appear on the AH1359 (1940) 1/2 Pice & 1/4 Anna coins then?

Aidan.

Figleaf

#12
True and a good point. There are other princes who didn't mind being on a coin. Below is a medal of Bikaner (Y 19) for the jubilee of Maharajah Ganga Singhji. There are a number of reasons for going beyond Islamic rules:

The Sultans of Delhi had always been independent-minded, religiously. The centre of the Islamic world was the Caliph of Baghdad. However, in the 14th century, Delhi was slowly moving away from the caliphate of Baghdad and creating its own caliphate. A century later, all mention of all caliphates has disappeared. This suited the Moguls fine. They had to deal with a largely Hindu population and liked their independence from rulers in faraway lands who had no idea of the local situation in India. Jahangir went as far as issuing a splendid series of gold and silver coins with the signs of the zodiac (depicting animals is also an islamic nono).

The British colonization of India must have relaxed things even more. There are pictures of many mogul and local rulers in Wikipedia. An important aspect of this trend was that the princes were more and more westernized. Reading the bio of the Maharajah gives you an idea of how far this would go.

Interestingly, both Pakistan and Bangla Desh have issued circulating coins with people on them.

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

Rangnath

I'd like to add the following:

From the Wall Street Journal of Feb. 6, 2006 by AMIR TAHERI
?There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else. When it spread into the Levant, Islam came into contact with a version of Christianity that was militantly iconoclastic. As a result some Muslim theologians, at a time when Islam still had an organic theology, issued "fatwas" against any depiction of the Godhead. That position was further buttressed by the fact that Islam acknowledges the Jewish Ten Commandments--which include a ban on depicting God--as part of its heritage. The issue has never been decided one way or another, and the claim that a ban on images is "an absolute principle of Islam" is purely political. Islam has only one absolute principle: the Oneness of God. Trying to invent other absolutes is, from the point of view of Islamic theology, nothing but sherk, i.e., the bestowal on the Many of the attributes of the One.?

Islam is embraced by a billion adherents living in hundreds of disparate cultures, each with its own attitudes towards the place of imagery in the arts. I think it safe to generalize that within the Mosque, no matter where, one will not find the likeness of the human face for fear of violating the proscription on idolatry.  The passion for artistic expression on and within the mosque has been expressed primarily in two areas:  calligraphy and geometrical pattern. 

Apart from the Mosque, the artistic life in the Moslem world, coinage including, is as complex as in any other.  Current politics, specially within the Arab world, may be temporarily clouding this complexity.  Read Karen Armstrong's "Battle for God" for an academic understanding of this.
richie

Figleaf

Fortunately, I haven't expressed myself in absolutes. The key word is "Quranic" in the first sentence of the article. All religions I know have extended rules and regulations beyond the orignal texts. There are other forums to discuss them.

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