World of Coins

Modern Asian coins, pseudo coins and trade tokens => Indian subcontinent: Mughal, Princely states and colonial (1526-1947) => Mughal central government => Topic started by: Figleaf on July 24, 2010, 02:31:05 PM

Title: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Figleaf on July 24, 2010, 02:31:05 PM
Agreed, asm. I am wondering why the Mughals needed so many mints and wondering if some of them could have been travelling mints, moving with the Mughal as he inspects one place after another, striking money as needed.

Peter
Title: Aurangzeb (AH1068-1118), Dam, Sangamner mint, AH1112/RYXX
Post by: asm on July 24, 2010, 02:42:46 PM
Agreed, asm. I am wondering why the Mughals needed so many mints and wondeering if some of them could have been travelling mints, moving with the Mughal as he inspects one place after another, striking money as needed.

Peter
Though I have not read this in depth, I believe that the mints, especially at the time of Aurangzeb and in the Deccan were travelling mints, travelling with his army and minting money as and when needed or to commemorate the victory of a fort or Lands.

I have based my conclusions on the fact that most such mints (in the Deccan area) operated for short periods and the coins are are scarce.

Amit
Title: Aurangzeb (AH1068-1118), Dam, Sangamner mint, AH1112/RYXX
Post by: Figleaf on July 26, 2010, 11:28:01 PM
Not necessarily. Army camps do produce a lot of scrap metal, especially during a military campaign. One worn cannon would be enough for an enormous amount of copper coins. Think also of leaking pots and pans, bent and pierced pieces of armor etc.

The last military camp coins were probably struck in German East Africa. By the variety in colour, you can see that different mixtures of brass and bronze were used.

Peter
Title: Aurangzeb (AH1068-1118), Dam, Sangamner mint, AH1112/RYXX
Post by: asm on July 27, 2010, 02:54:40 AM
...... Army camps do produce a lot of scrap metal, especially during a military campaign. One worn cannon would be enough for an enormous amount of copper coins. Think also of leaking pots and pans, bent and pierced pieces of armor etc.
Peter
Peter,
That could explain the copper coins but what about the silver? I have come across more silver than copper coins of such (may be travelling or moving) mints. Was it made form the spoils of war? The treasury of the place attacked was in the hands of the conqueror and the metal was used to mint coins?

Amit
Title: Aurangzeb (AH1068-1118), Dam, Sangamner mint, AH1112/RYXX
Post by: akona20 on July 27, 2010, 05:23:05 AM
I think at times we forget the size of the Mughal Empire at its peak. Although figures are arguable it perhaps accounted for 20-25% of the world's GDP and that required a lot of cash in some form or another. The population of the Mughal Empire in 1600 is hard to estimate but a suggested figure of 65 million would be a reasonable one if not perhaps a little on the low side. The British Isles for example at the same time had a population of around 6 million.

During the expansions of Akbar many major cities were taken that were already producing mints and with a propensity to have coins circulating in the expansion those of the current ruler there was a great remelting of coins to produce the new ones. What is rather exceptional in this is the standard of the engravers art for the coin makers was at such a high level.

At the time of Akbaar there were 12 'provinces' in the Empire while at the time of Aurangzeb this had grown to 20 and given the method of rule, favour and payments the number of apparently fixed mint sites appear not to be excessive for the size and governence of the Empire as a whole.
Title: Aurangzeb (AH1068-1118), Dam, Sangamner mint, AH1112/RYXX
Post by: Figleaf on July 27, 2010, 02:41:54 PM
Per unit of value, silver is easier to transport (the German East Africa troops I mentioned before carried the whole gold reserve of the country and minted good looking gold coins from it.) There were indeed other sources of silver, apart from the usual pillage, rape and robbing the dead. If the attacker had another religion than the defender, the silver decoration and ritual pieces of the holy places of the defender would have been confiscated and re-melted. Silver coins with a text or symbol offensive to the victor would be recalled and re-melted. The latter may have been the main source of the silver "travelling mint" coins.

As to how many mints you need, the problem is not even so much population, but transportation. For a mint, you need a hammer, a big brute, some metal workers and some clerks and officials. The number of big brutes and hammers depend on the size of production, but the officials and to some extent the clerks and metal workers are overhead. It usually makes sense economically to concentrate production in one place, until you consider distribution cost.

Distribution costs work on two fronts. First, mints are a public service, open to the public. Therefore you want them where money flows in (e.g. Surat) or is spent (e.g. Delhi). You also want collection and distribution offices throughout the country, but they don't need to be mints. The other front is physical transportation and stocking of precious metals. Forts, palaces and military camps are pretty good, undefended places are bad. Transportation requires expensive military convoys and not too corruptible convoy commanders and even so, money will disappear, as is clear from the Spanish experience in South America. Looking at distribution cost alone, you'd want all the mints you can afford to minimize transportation.

This is a simple management problem that you can solve with linear programming, but we don't know enough about the inputs to calculate the solution today. Some considerations: at this time, England had one mint, France around 20 (transportation cost were very high due to feudal rights), the Republic around 10 (ancient coining rights were maintained, production was concentrated in three or four mints), Russia around four, Scandinavian countries one or two, China around 15, India probably close to 100 (numbers are estimates, I don't have my documentation at hand).

A big unknown in the above rough comparison is that Indian coining methods were quite different from European and Chinese methods, but that is the core reason why I asked the question in the first place...

Peter
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Salvete on July 29, 2010, 10:11:26 AM
Just a suggestion:

Copper mints were probably put as close as possible to copper mines and/or smelting facilities, commensurate with proximity of the big markets, to reduce transport costs and the associated risks.

Copper and maybe silver mints may have multiplied also to reduce transport costs of imported metal (Surat, etc?) and sources of ore (Bhairat, Narnol etc.)

Transport and its security seemed often to be limiting factors regarding movement of funds, particularly through 'Bandit country' and the development of the hundi and insurance of material in transit only partly overcame this problem, evident at most times and in many places.  Had Akbar lived 1000 years, the history of Indian monetary systems might have been very different .......... ?

Barry
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 29, 2010, 11:18:05 AM
Please remember that the proliferation of silver mints may have due to the discounting of the value of older silver coins and therefore remelting, even at a cost, may have been a way to stop this official devaluation ostensibly due to wear of the silver coins. Therefore as I previously have said it was the silver content in the coin that was important not the coin itself.

On the copper point it would be interesting to see what mints operated in the Khetri district for copper coin production during Mughal times.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Figleaf on July 29, 2010, 12:31:38 PM
While continuous re-minting does account for a proliferation of mints, the monetary system in India was not much different from that in Europe. In Europe also, minting and melting was a government service, available at a fee. This does not explain the enormous difference in numbers of mints.

The shroff is not unique to India either. In Europe, jewellers developed into metal traders and bankers and even in the late middle ages, the cities of Venice and Barcelona had a sophisticated system of changing money and insuring shipments that included beheading of money changers who could no longer meet their obligations. :P

The hundi also, had its counterpart in Europe, in the shape of the negotiable letter of credit, drawn upon friendly jewellers/bankers or embassies, but also as the negotiable bank deposit in the Bank of Amsterdam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Amsterdam) (Amsterdamse wisselbank), which kept accounts in a coin that no longer existed, therefore in fact in standard units of silver.

What was really different was that in Europe, coins were tariffed by the government, while in India, they were tariffed by the money changers. As a result, Gresham's law operated in Europe: the lightest coins stayed in circulation, the heaviest were hoarded. In India, the effect was that all coins were equally good/bad to those in the know as long as the right price was applied, so that all stayed in circulation until too worn.

I believe that the key to understanding the large number of mints is to understand what was (re-)minted. Here are some possibilities.


The first possibility is again shared by European mints, so it doesn't explain the difference in number of mints, though it may explain the difference in size of mints. From a quick, casual reading of the papers akona linked to, it is already quite clear that the Indian market was isolated enough from Japan and Europe to produce different gold/silver and copper/silver ratios, opening up vast possibilities for arbitrage by foreign traders, shipping in copper or gold or exporting silver, as dictated by these price ratios. Similar differences can be found in the Japanese and Chinese markets and this was one avenue for some of my ancestors to become filthy rich. Again, it doesn't explain why there were so many mints, but it does explain swings in production.

The second possibility is also shared with European mints, so it doesn't explain the difference in number of mints. In addition, experience shows that attrition and economic growth will ensure that the number of coins going out of a mint is normally much larger than the number of coins coming in (even in times of re-coining).

The third option offers food for thought. Other than in Europe minus the Balkan, in Asia (and I don't believe India was an exception) coins were used as decoration. e.g. on clothing. The coins would wear with the clothing and be disfigured by holes, so if they were needed in bad times, they may have been instantly ripe for re-melting. If these inflows of coins were important, they may contribute to explain a number of temporary minting facilities in areas struck by disasters ranging from drought and failed harvests to mutiny and war, in addition to mobile mints. From the POV of an economist, this would work as an economic stabilizer, pumping money into troubled local economies. Whether properly understood or not, this effect could have been known intuitively, so a local mint in "interesting times" could have been seen as a cheap way to support a troubled region.

Peter
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 29, 2010, 12:46:34 PM
In Mughal India, and other Indian states for that matter, was there an actual freedom to mint coinage or was that totally controlled as it was in most other places?

I somewhat disagree with the suggestion that good and bad coins in circulation in India because 'the price was right' or words to that effect. I believe a conscious decsion was taken on whether to remint coins on a relatively frequent basis because of the standard method of devaluing older coins.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Figleaf on July 29, 2010, 01:16:52 PM
Coinage was free in most places, in the sense that anyone could at any time take an amount of gold and silver (not copper) to any official mint and ask for it to be minted, for a fee, of course. I know that it was no different for foreigners in India and I assume that it was no different for Indians in India. The freedom to mint in official mints was ended only with the introduction of token coins.

Not sure what you mean by your second remark. I think the procedure for making the decision was something like: client comes into shroff's establishment with bag of coins. Shroff negotiates price, taking into account weight, content and wear (and client's ignorance), including which coins need re-minting. Shroff takes worn coins to mint. No government decision or office involved. Which coins get re-minted? The ones that other clients will no longer accept in change. Again, not a government decision.

Peter
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 29, 2010, 01:24:34 PM
1. The question is really about who owned the 'official' mints. I feel you will find that it was not the government as such and therefore the amount of coinage in circulation was dependant on factors not directly of the governments making.

2. Perhaps clients went directly to the mints for the reminting process if they had a large enough number of coins that needed reminting.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Salvete on July 29, 2010, 01:31:55 PM
Fascinating stuff, Peter.


What was really different was that in Europe, coins were tariffed by the government, while in India, they were tariffed by the money changers. As a result, Gresham's law operated in Europe: the lightest coins stayed in circulation, the heaviest were hoarded. In India, the effect was that all coins were equally good/bad to those in the know as long as the right price was applied, so that all stayed in circulation until too worn.



Just one minor point:  As was the case in Europe, the best quality rupees and ashrafis were specifically chosen for use as decorations (for horses as well as people), amulets and for hoarding, and this is attested to in a number of places in the literature.  The most recent that I remember reading concerned the pre- and post-Rohilla War rupees and mohurs of the Rohilla and ex-Rohilla mints, specifically Najibabad.

Barry
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 30, 2010, 11:20:31 PM
One of the jobs I need to do over the next few months is to map the mints of each of the Shahs using the old collection records and the modern available records.

Should be an interesting few maps.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Figleaf on July 30, 2010, 11:37:36 PM
I haven't tried this, but I think you can create your own layers in Google maps. That would also make it easier to publish or share maps you make.

Peter
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 30, 2010, 11:56:45 PM
I have been considering exactly what to use. There is the possibility of using one of the simple map making programs with topography.

The other problem with the so called modern maps is the names are a little different and that require a little work to see what can be done.

For the silver of Shah Alam Bahadur 1 there are at least 54 mints for silver alone. I still need to isolate a very small number for mapping purposes and recheck 3 from sources.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 31, 2010, 01:21:57 AM
Perhaps of course the easiest way is to get a map of the great sub continent and stick numbered pins it.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: asm on July 31, 2010, 03:31:53 AM
Perhaps of course the easiest way is to get a map of the great sub continent and stick numbered pins it.
Perhaps the easiest way is to get an old map of the great sub continent, prepared by some contemporary traveller and stick numbered pins it.

Also a lot of work has already been done on the subject and there are books on the list of Mughal Mint towns. A case in point is the book on Akbar's coinage published recently. Some old reference materials are also available.

Amit
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on July 31, 2010, 10:02:37 AM
Hi Amit,

Thanks. I have most if not all of the old works and most of the new ones now and it is a matter of checking and rechecking each and every source and the modern lists.

There will always be soem controversies but that is life. I think I have the rest of my life's work ahead of me with this and other things on Mughal coins.
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: asm on August 04, 2010, 01:19:23 PM
I found this list (http://www215.pair.com/sacoins/images/coincabinet/mughal/mughal_mints.doc) of Mughal Mints.

Amit
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: akona20 on August 04, 2010, 01:38:24 PM
Hi Amit,

I have that list but my list has a few more names on it than that one, eight more to be precise at this moment. Mine has been crossed referenced with the best available. (silver mints only at this time have been checked)
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Abhay on August 04, 2010, 04:03:54 PM
One more mint can be added to the list - Farrukhsiyar - Gold - Gwalior. I have not seen this listed anywhere.

It is a rare coin. It was being sold on some Auction site about 2-3 months back. I downloaded the images from that website.

Abhay
Title: Re: The number of Mughal mints
Post by: Figleaf on August 04, 2010, 08:06:17 PM
What a beauty, engipress.

Not about this particular coin, but more in general, would it not have been quite easy to turn a silver coin into a gold coin, simply by gilding it? One thing I noticed is that I have yet to see an Indian gold coin with shroff marks...

Peter