Author Topic: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada  (Read 5877 times)

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Offline mitresh

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Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« on: April 15, 2013, 08:11:27 AM »
Punch Mark Coins, Magadha Janapada, 600-400 BC, Early Archaic Series


These 10 Punch Mark Coins (PMC) reveal a variety of symbols - sun, 6 armed solar symbol, animals, taurine, fish, dots and geometric shapes. These punch marks were probably guarantee for the purity and weight of the coin by the king of the local Janapada. Most of the Kings of Early Kingdoms believed in the legends that they were the descendants of Surya (Sun) dynasty (similar to Alexander's or Roman belief that they were descendants of Greeks heroes and Gods) hence the sun or solar symbol appears prominently on the PMC.

The Archaic series of Magadha Janapada form the earliest known coins of India and are easily distinguished from the later Imperial Mauryan Empire Issues by their thin fabric, flat and irregular shape as well as weakness of few punch symbols which is rarely impressed complete on the coins.

For manufacturing such pieces of coin, a prescribed amount of metal was melted and this molten metal was left to be cooled as a lump or was cast into sheets of required thickness. In case of a lump, it had to be beaten out into a sheet. Strips were then cut from the sheets and were divided into pieces of equal weight with, if and where required, edges clipped to adjust them to their proper weight. These pieces of prescribed weight, technically known as blanks, were slightly heated and then impressed with devices from different dies punched on them on one or both the sides.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 10:41:18 AM by mitresh »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 11:48:58 AM »
Have you found any details on how, in this age, you could cast a sheet of the required thickness? What is your source for this technique?

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

Offline mitresh

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 12:46:31 PM »
Maybe cast is not the right word as it pertains to moulds. It is mentioned in Kautilya's (Chanakya) Arthshastra that molten metal was poured out into trays or wooden platform of specified length and breadth to hold the molten metal. This would explain the relative uniformity of the weight standard (karshapana) with clipped edges signifying attempt to unify the weight of each coin to an overall approximate weight range of the coin.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 03:47:31 PM »
It is mentioned in Kautilya's (Chanakya) Arthshastra that molten metal was poured out into trays or wooden platform of specified length and breadth to hold the molten metal.

Great! Can you give me a link or a reference to a written work, please? TIA.

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

Offline Bimat

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Offline Bimat

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Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 04:16:11 PM »
From http://www.bharatadesam.com/literature/kautilya_arthashastra/arthashastra_2.php

  • The superintendent of mint (lakshnádhyakshah), shall carry on the manufacture of silver coins (rúpyarúpa) made up of four parts of copper and one-sixteenth part (másha) of any one of the metals, tikshna, trapu, sisa, and anjana. There shall be a pana, half a pana, a quarter and one-eighth.
  • Copper coins (támrarúpa) made up of four parts of an alloy (pádajívam), shall be a máshaka, half a máshaka, kákani and half a kákani.
  • The examiner of coins (rúpadarsaka) shall regulate currency both as a medium of exchange (vyávahárikim) and as legal tender admissible into the treasury (kosapravesyám): The premia levied on coins paid into the treasury shall be) 8 per cent, known as rúpika, 5 per cent known as vyáji, one-eighth pana per cent as páríkshika (testing charge), besides (cha) a fine of 25 pana to be imposed on offenders other than the manufacturer, the seller, the purchaser and the examiner.

Aditya
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 05:23:34 PM »
While a very interesting text, I have not found anything on casting silver plates for coins. Have I overlooked it?

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

Offline Bimat

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Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 05:36:21 PM »
Text from chapter XIII:

[...]

Impure gold is of whitish colour. It shall be fused with lead of four times the quantity of the impurity. When gold is rendered brittle owing to its contamination with lead, it shall be heated with dry cowdung (sushkapatala). When it splits into pieces owing to hardness, it shall be drenched (after heating) into oil mixed with cowdung (taila-gomaye).

Mine gold which is brittle owing to its contamination with lead shall be heated wound round with cloth (pákapatráni kritvá); and hammered on a wooden anvil. Or it may be drenched in the mixture made of mushroom and vajrakhanda (Antiquorum).

Tutthodgata, what which is extracted from the mountain, Tuttha; gaudika, that which is the product of the country known as Gauda; kámbuka, that which is extracted from the mountain, Kambu; and chákraválika, that which is extracted from the mountain Chakravála are the varieties of silver.

Silver which is white, glossy, and ductile is the best; and that which is of the reverse quality is bad.

Impure silver shall be heated with lead of one-fourth the quantity of the impurity.

That which becomes full of globules, white, glowing, and of the colour of curd is pure.

When the streak of pure gold (made on touch-stone) is of the colour of turmeric, it is termed suvarna. When from one to sixteen kákanis of gold in a suvarna (of sixteen máshakas) are replaced by from one to sixteen kákanis of copper, so that the copper is inseparably alloyed with the whole mass of the remaining quantity of the gold, the sixteen varieties (carats) of the standard of the purity of gold (shodasavarnakáh) will be obtained.

Having first made a streak with suvarna on a touchstone, then (by the side of the streak) a streak with a piece of the gold (to be compared with it) shall be made.

Whenever a uniform streak made on the even surface of a touch-stone can be wiped off or swept away or when the streak is due to the sprinkling of any glittering powder (gairika) by the nail on touch-stone, then an attempt for deception can be inferred.

If, with the edge of the palm dipped in a solution, of vermilion (játihinguláka) or of sulphate of iron (pushpakásísa) in cow's urine, gold (suvarna) is touched, it becomes white.

A touch-stone with soft and shining splendour is the best. The touch-stone of the Kálinga country with the colour of green beans is also the best. A touch-stone of even or uniform colour is good in sale or purchase (of gold). That which possesses the colour of an elephant, tinged with green colour and capable of reflecting light (pratirági) is good in selling gold. That which is hard, durable, and of uneven colour and not reflecting light, is good for purchasers (krayahitah). That which is grey, greasy, of uniform colour, soft, and glossy is the best.

That (gold) which, when heated, keeps the same colour (tápo bahirantascha samah), is as glittering as tender sprouts, or of the colour of the flower of kárandaka (?) is the best.

That which is black or blue (in gold) is the impurity (apráptaka).

We shall deal with the balance and weights under the "Superintendent of Weights and Measures" (Chap. XIX, Book II). In accordance with the instructions given thereunder silver and gold (rúpyasuvarnam) may be given in exchange.

No person who is not an employee shall enter the gold-smiths’ office. Any person who so enters shall be beheaded (uchchhedyah).

Any workman who enters the office with gold or silver shall have to forfeit the same.

Goldsmiths who are engaged to prepare various kinds of ornaments such as kánchana (pure gold), prishita (hollow ornaments), tvashtri (setting gems in gold) and tapaníya; as well as blowers and sweepers shall enter into or exit from the office after their person and dress are thoroughly examined. All of their instruments together with their unfinished work shall be left where they have been at work. That amount of gold which they have received and the ornamental work which they were doing shall be put in the centre of the office. (Finished articles) shall be examined both morning and evening and be locked up with the seal of both the manufacturer and the superintendent (kárayatri, the owner getting the articles prepared).

Kshepana, guna, and kshudra ate three kinds of ornamental work.

Setting jewels (kácha, glass bead) in gold is termed kshepana.

Thread-making or string making is called guna.

Solid work (ghana), hollow work (sushira), and the manufacture of globules furnished with a rounded orifice is what is termed kshudra, low or ordinary work.

For setting jewels in gold, five parts of káñchana (pure gold) and ten parts of gold alloyed with four parts of copper or silver shall be the required quantity (mána). Here the pure gold shall be preserved from the impure gold.

For setting jewels in hollow ornaments (prishitakácha karmanah), three parts of gold to hold the jewel and four parts for the bottom (shall be the required quantity).

For the work of tvashtri, copper and gold shall be mixed in equal quantities.

For silver article either solid or hollow, silver may be mixed with half of the amount of gold; or by making use of the powder or solution of vermilion, gold equal to one-fourth the amount of silver of the ornament may be painted (vásayet) on it.

Pure and glittering gold is tapaníya. This combined with an equal quantity of lead and heated with rock-salt (saindhav'ika) to melting point under dry cowdung becomes the basis of gold alloys of blue, red, white, yellow (harita), parrot and pidgeon colours.

The colouring ingredient of gold is one kákaní of tíkshna which is of the colour of the neck of a peacock, tinged with white, and which is dazzling and full of copper (pitapúrnitam).

Pure or impure silver (tára) may be heated four times with asthituttha (copper sulphate mixed with powdered bone), again four times with an equal quantity of lead, again four times with dry copper sulphate (sushkatuttha) again three times in skull (kapála), and lastly twice in cowdung. Thus the silver acted upon seventeen times by tuttha (shodasatutthátikrántam) and lastly heated to white light with rock salt may be made to alloy with suvarna to the extent of from one kákani to two Máshas. Then the suvarna attains white colour and is called sveta-tára.

When three parts of tapaníya (pure gold) are melted with thirty-two parts of sveta-tára, the compound becomes reddish white (svetalohitakam). When three parts of tapaníya are combined with thirty-two parts of copper, the compound becomes yellow (píta, red!). Also when three parts of the colouring ingredient (rágatribhága, i.e., tíkshna referred to above) are heated with tapaníya, the compound becomes yellowish red (píta). When two parts of sveta-tára and one part of tapaníya are heated, the whole mass becomes as green as mudga (Phraseolus Mungo). When tapaníya is drenched in a solution of half the quantity of black iron (káláyasa), it becomes black.

When tapaníya is twice drenched in (the above) solution mixed with mercury (rasa), it acquires the colour of the feathers of a parrot.

Before these varieties of gold are put to use, their test streak shall be taken on touch-stone. The process of assaying tíkshna and copper shall be well understood. Hence the various counterweights (avaneyimána) used in weighing diamonds, rubies, pearls, corals, and coins, (rúpa), as well as the proportional amount of gold and silver necessary for various kinds of ornaments can be well understood.

Uniform in colour, equal in the colour of test streak to the standard gold, devoid of hollow bulbs, ductile (sthira), very smooth, free from alloys, pleasing when worn as an ornament, not dazzling though glittering, sweet in its uniformity of mass, and pleasing the mind and eyes,---these are the qualities of tapaníya, pure gold.


[...]

Not sure if this is what you were looking for. ;)

Aditya
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 09:18:10 PM »
Yes, I have seen that, but it's on hammering the plate to required thickness. I am interested in casting a plate in the required thickness.

Peter

For manufacturing such pieces of coin, a prescribed amount of metal was melted and this molten metal was left to be cooled as a lump or was cast into sheets of required thickness. In case of a lump, it had to be beaten out into a sheet.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

akona20

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 11:21:35 PM »
JONS had an article on this by Dr Shailendra Bhandare many years ago.

THE ARCHAIC INDIAN PUNCH MARKED COINS - APPROACHES TO CLASSIFICATION
 
It may be available on the internet.

I have a publication here that discusses the methods used and will see if it is referenced on the internet.


Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2013, 09:55:04 AM »
Thanks, Akona. I found the paper here. There is a good discussion on how the lumps, to be flattened into flans, could have been made. However, there is nothing on how plates were cast, even though the article notes that at least some coins were cut from plates. The technique to manufacture these coins still remains to be satisfactorily elucidated.

I am beginning to suspect that the plates may have been hammered from larger lumps. I hope you can find the other article.

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

akona20

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 10:34:23 AM »
In these coins, from what I have seen, is that as suggested after coming from the crucible the silver was beaten into sheets.

akona20

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2013, 03:02:40 AM »
The article I spoke of is

"The Technique of Casting Coins in Ancient India"  by Birbal Sahni

On rereading this he offers some interesting suggestions as to how the coins in this thread were made.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Punch Mark Coins - Archaic Series of Magadha Janapada
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2013, 10:14:14 AM »
While the article was written 65 years ago, it still seems to be copyright protected...

Meanwhile, I think the wooden tray story to cast silver plate directly should be discarded.

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