Author Topic: Nationality of coins  (Read 589 times)

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Offline asm

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Nationality of coins
« on: October 14, 2019, 12:03:24 PM »
Coins of Mumbai or Munbai mint are said to be Presidency issues. So should be moved there.

However, the officers of the BEIC had to request permission of the Ruling Mughal Monarch and hence, these coins would well be called Mughal issues minted by the BEIC with permission.

This is a contentious issue and I would love to hear the views of other members here. Should these coins be labeled BEIC issues or Mughal issues as they have the same design, pattern, weight etc as Mughal coins ....

Amit
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2019, 01:47:37 PM »
Coins are instruments of sovereignty: the issuer shows his sovereign power by issuing coins.

A. Sovereignty is the ability in practice to rule a country. A major test of sovereignty is being able to raise taxes, defend borders and deal with other sovereign entities. A sovereign ruler is the office that holds sovereignty.

B. Country requires inhabitable land, a permanent population and (this is my opinion; it is widely, but not universally shared) a fair degree of international recognition.

A sovereign ruler's coins can be assigned to the area she rules. A sovereign has the right to outsource minting to anyone, including foreigners. This is a long-standing practice that continues today. Outsourcing does not change the "nationality" of the coin. In a transaction of outsourcing, the sovereign retains the right to determine:
  • weight, size and other technical details.
  • metal content
  • denomination
  • other design elements
In practice, most coins are easy to classify according to "nationality". If they are minted without the permission of the sovereign ruler, they are fantasies. Otherwise, the sovereign ruler determines the "nationality" of the coin. However, the outsourcing process creates a leak. If the process is in accordance with the standards above, there is no problem. However, the more power to determine the standards above is given to the entity outsourced to, the more the sovereignty of the ruler is doubtful.

Personally, I am inclined to give the ruler the benefit of the doubt. In this particular case, I would argue that needing the mogul's permission is a sign of the mogul's sovereignty, in spite of his limited power in practice. The British decided on weight and metal content, while the mogul "decided" on denomination and design. That's a 50-50 situation, so the mogul wins.

To put that into perspective, a Russian coin dealer issues pieces without permission from the sovereign ruler. These are fantasies. I recently read on WoC that a fluff issuer from Liechtenstein reserves the right to decide on design. I suspect that the other standards are decided either by tradition or by the Liechtenstein party. If these contentions are shown to be true, I would qualify all Liechtenstein-produced issues as fantasies. To the best of my knowledge, Pobjoy's contracts do not contain the design clause (please correct or confirm if you can), so design and denomination decisions remain with the sovereign ruler. I suspect Pobjoy largely determines technical details and metal content with tradition playing a role (please correct or confirm if you can). On balance, the outsourcing largely respects the sovereignty of the ruler. I would therefore not consider Pobjoy's products as fantasies.

Furthermore, early gold coins minted in South Africa are British. Sovereigns minted in Canada are British, but dollar denominated Canadian gold is Canadian. French coins minted in Madrid are French. Dutch coins minted in Brussels or the UK are Dutch etc. etc.

As always, this is not meant to discourage anyone from collecting anything. It just aims at encouraging discussion in order to clarify the status of coins.

Peter
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Offline asm

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2019, 08:46:53 AM »
Coins are instruments of sovereignty: the issuer shows his sovereign power by issuing coins.
Peter

Exactly my point, Peter. Coins are an instrument of sovereignty. But here, the BEIC needed the official sanction to mint coins and the coins were minted in the name of the Mughal Rulers............ So would you say that the BEIC was a sovereign authority? The land of Munbai (Bombay) was received by the King of England as a Dowry from the Portuguese. So they controlled the land. My belief is that in India, there was then no concept of land ownership. It was all about who collected the revenue.......

Every act of the British (or for that matter all European powers) were consistent  with what the Mughal authorities permitted them.

So, who was the real power?

There is a famous dialogue - a conversation between the puppet Mughal Ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar and the British general (I forget his name) when he had gone to arrest the Mughal King after the First War for Independence (I am sorry, I do not call it an Indian Mutiny) when the Mughal ruler, in reply to the Brit as to why he had decided to head the revolt at his old age and when he was living comfortably with the Pension the Brits gave him, said - that he was the head of the country. On being asked how he said thatwhen his authority did not extend beyond the Red Fort, Zafar replied: Tell me, in whose name are the coins of the land issued? Meaning thereby that he was (inspite of not having actual authority) the ruler of all India, including the lands controlled by the Brits.

A. Sovereignty is the ability in practice to rule a country. A major test of sovereignty is being able to raise taxes, defend borders and deal with other sovereign entities. A sovereign ruler is the office that holds sovereignty.

B. Country requires inhabitable land, a permanent population and (this is my opinion; it is widely, but not universally shared) a fair degree of international recognition.

A sovereign ruler's coins can be assigned to the area she rules. A sovereign has the right to outsource minting to anyone, including foreigners. This is a long-standing practice that continues today. Outsourcing does not change the "nationality" of the coin. In a transaction of outsourcing, the sovereign retains the right to determine:
  • weight, size and other technical details.
  • metal content
  • denomination
  • other design elements
In practice, most coins are easy to classify according to "nationality". If they are minted without the permission of the sovereign ruler, they are fantasies. Otherwise, the sovereign ruler determines the "nationality" of the coin. However, the outsourcing process creates a leak. If the process is in accordance with the standards above, there is no problem. However, the more power to determine the standards above is given to the entity outsourced to, the more the sovereignty of the ruler is doubtful.

Personally, I am inclined to give the ruler the benefit of the doubt. In this particular case, I would argue that needing the mogul's permission is a sign of the mogul's sovereignty, in spite of his limited power in practice. The British decided on weight and metal content, while the mogul "decided" on denomination and design. That's a 50-50 situation, so the mogul wins.
Peter

Indian conditions have never been as simple. This is the basic mistake historians - especially European ones have made when looking at Indian history.

1) The British never owned any lands - they just collected revenue / taxes in a particular area where they could exercise authority. So technically till at least 1857 they were not rulers in the exact sense of the word.
2) The size, weight, legend, purity etc were all decided by the Mughal authority - not by the British.
3) There was no nationality in the exact meaning of the word. These were all Indian Mughal style Coins issued from various mints. The only differentiating points was the mark in the letter 'seen' of the word 'Julus' on the reverse of the coin.
4) The most important point which most people miss or deliberately ignore is that the British had tried to mint their own coinage, in the name of James II as also William & Mary - during the time of Aurangzeb. This was strongly objected to by the Mughal Emperor and the British were warned not not to undertake such adventures in the future. However, they were permitted to strike coins of Mughal standards at Mumbai.
5) Early Indian historians and numismatists always classified these and other IPS coins as Mughal coins. In fact, I have a map of India (pulled out from some old text (no name on it) which clearly mentions all state mints as well as Mumbai (Bombay) as a Mughal mint. I attach the part of the map for reference).

These are all facts........... in the public domain.

Amit
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 09:24:35 AM by asm »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2019, 10:41:15 AM »
We take a different route, but arrive at the same conclusion, with only marginal difference in the answers.

Who decided what? I agree with most of your list, except that I have severe doubts about weight. I also have doubts on metal content, but not enough information, so I will go along with your contention that it was the Mughal deciding this. Here are some quotes from "A history of currency in the British Colonies" by Robert Chalmers:

By Act XIII, 1836 [the Sicca rupee of Bengal] was discontinued in view of the the introduction of the Company's rupee.
On the British struck Bombay rupee: (...) The Surat rupee (...) being struck of less intrinsic value drove out the British coins (...) In 1801 the new Bombay rupee was ordered to be struck, weighing 179 grs.gross (...)
In 1806 directions were sent out from home that the standard coin of Madras should be a silver rupee weighing 180 grs. gross.


Chalmers goes on to explain that by 1806, the Company (EIC) intended to establish its own money. However, this could only be achieved in 1835.

I think we may conclude that the Company failed to establish its "Rupee of Bombaim" of 1677. It then appropriated the right to establish coin weights (and perhaps fineness) between 1801 and 1806, legally claiming full minting rights in 1835.

In spite of the above, as far as I am concerned, as long as the Moghul needed to give permission to the EIC for minting, he was the issuing authority. Even though his sovereignty was extremely limited, he still had sovereignty over coin production. Until 1835, the coins were without portrait and of Mughal denomination. I would score the sovereignty issue as 50-50 from 1801, so the Mughal wins and the Company is a contractor until 1835, when it became the sovereign issuer.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 11:30:37 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline asm

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2019, 11:07:55 AM »
I agree to most of what you say. However:

1) XRF tests have established that the purity of the Mughal rupee did not alter till at least the time of Shah Alam II when the different states started minting their own coins.
2) The weight of the rupee was a fairly presise weight and in fact, later weights were denominated in terms of Rupees. e.g - one seer of xx rupees (Picture 1 below) or were just issed as 2.5 rupees or 5 rupees (it meant the weight of 2.5 rupees or 5 rupees. The weight of a rupee was 1 Tola).
3) Though the British did start minting, all the coins minted till 1835 were still in the name of the Mughal Emperor.
4) The Indian market place was more advanced then most like to believe. If a coin was indeed debased, the weight had to be increased to make up the silver content. Most Indian traders and for sure all the shroffs could accurately assay the coin and weigh it. It did not take long for this to be completed.
5) First Portrait rupees were issued in the name of King William IV in 1835 and of Queen Victoria in 1840. These were the Machine Struck coins - which can surely be called BEIC issues. So all issues in areas under the control of the EIC - divided in to the three Presidencies - were the EIC issues till 1962 when the Queen assumed the powers to rule.

Amit

A senior collector of high standing told me that the British had been advised by James II to mint rupees of different Indian mints with a finesse and weight accuracy better than the Mughal coinage of the place. This was to overcome the problems posed by Indian mint masters who would deliberately delay minting of silver brought in by British traders - who would then have to wait till his work was done to move inland for the business he had come to India for.

 
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Offline Pabitra

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2019, 04:25:29 AM »
Minting of local currency was part of the Royal charter received by East India Company on Dec. 31, 1600.

French got the right to mint their own coins in India when their governor, Dupleix got De Volton, the rank of Nawab of 5000 horses and mint the coins in Pondicherry, from Nawab of Arcot around 1693.

Clive got the right for EI Company in Treaty of Alinagar which was signed on Feb 9, 1757.

Offline Coinsforever

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2019, 01:11:38 AM »
It is an interesting topic needs lot of research but it is unfair if we have meterological data that is evident that coins ino of Mughal emperors are matching mughal imperial coins in terms of purity and other standards.
At the moment I can't say anything as it is a topic of extensive research will post in future.
Cheers ;D
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Offline Abhay

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2019, 04:37:18 AM »
Earlier, such coins were listed under Mughal rulers, but of late, they have been listed under Bombay Presidency in the new Book by Paul Stevens - "The Coins of the English East India Company: Presidency Series. A Catalogue and Pricelist".

For example, you can find KM # 377.48 for Farrukhsiyar, KM # 415.20 for Shah Jahan II, KM # 436.45 for Muhhamad Shah all listed under Mughal Empire.

But you also find these listed as Bombay Presidency Coins in Steven's book.

However, all the auction houses are now listing these coins under Bombay Presidency.

An interesting Coin is that of William & Mary, issued under Aurangzeb's rule.

http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,47121.msg294522.html#msg294522

Abhay
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2019, 07:33:04 AM »
The two issues are to collect the data and to interpret the data. Asm is working on the interpretation part. I would be happy to see the data Coinsforever is referring to. I am quite interested in metal analysis.

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

Offline asm

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2019, 10:28:57 AM »
Earlier, such coins were listed under Mughal rulers, but of late, they have been listed under Bombay Presidency in the new Book by Paul Stevens - "The Coins of the English East India Company: Presidency Series. A Catalogue and Pricelist".

For example, you can find KM # 377.48 for Farrukhsiyar, KM # 415.20 for Shah Jahan II, KM # 436.45 for Muhhamad Shah all listed under Mughal Empire.

But you also find these listed as Bombay Presidency Coins in Steven's book.

However, all the auction houses are now listing these coins under Bombay Presidency.

An interesting Coin is that of William & Mary, issued under Aurangzeb's rule.

http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,47121.msg294522.html#msg294522

Abhay

Abhay, I have made a lengthy note, posted on WoC - Mughal board on why I prefer the old way. Would like your views on it.

Amit
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Offline asm

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2019, 10:44:38 AM »
The two issues are to collect the data and to interpret the data. Asm is working on the interpretation part. I would be happy to see the data Coinsforever is referring to. I am quite interested in metal analysis.
Peter
Metal analysis was attempted some time back when our member (then) Arthur arranged for XRF testing of coins at the Ashmolean museum - much against the advice of many experts. The results were stunning. The Rupees in the name of the Mughal Emperors, across reigns and across India has a very perfect alloy composition, much better accuracy then can be thought of considering the lack of equipment then. We have also observed the fair degree of accuracy in weight of the coins - again pan India and across reigns - except in instances where exceptions were made. Unfortunately, a dispute between Arthur and the others involved, ensured that the project got stopped mid way. But the fact remains that the metal purity, weight and the legends were all as decreed by the Mughal rulers. No exceptions.

An interesting issue which was also seen was that the Tin coins issued by the British were in fact Zinc (or was it the other way around?). 

Amit
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2019, 10:35:06 PM »
Yes, I do remember that episode.

I may well have misunderstood something somewhere, but I was thinking of checking very specific coins: those issued by the EIC in the name of the mughal struck in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta. I seem to remember that when they were machine struck, they became lighter and I am wondering if their fineness changed also and, if so, if that happened earlier or later. I suspect it did change and it happened at the same time as the change in weight. See also my quotes from Chalmers above.

the metal purity, weight and the legends were all as decreed by the Mughal rulers. No exceptions.
The upshot of this finding is that the story of the slightly better Elizabethan rupees is a numismatic legend.

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

Offline asm

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Re: Nationality of coins
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2019, 06:21:58 AM »
I may well have misunderstood something somewhere, but I was thinking of checking very specific coins: those issued by the EIC in the name of the mughal struck in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta. I seem to remember that when they were machine struck, they became lighter and I am wondering if their fineness changed also and, if so, if that happened earlier or later. I suspect it did change and it happened at the same time as the change in weight.
Peter
Well, unfortunately the emphasis then was Mughal Coins..... and a few BI coins too were tested. Unfortunately, the tests were abandoned midway........ Hope very soon such facilities are available and these coins can be commercially tested.

The upshot of this finding is that the story of the slightly better Elizabethan rupees is a numismatic legend.
Peter
Well..........SURPRISE........... the story of the slightly better rupees (I am not sure what Elizabeth has to do with it) is not a legend. I have been told by a very senior numismatist, someone very well respected as a collector that the British merchants did mint coins, as advised by their rulers, which were in the name and style of the Mughal Rupees from some common mints. They were advised to mint the coins a little better in fineness and a little heavier - but within the standards specified. I had always been wondering why I found some coins which were slightly heavier than the normal coins. Normal coins weigh 11.4 to 11.5 and up to 11.6 g but I often encounter coins weighing between 11.6 to 11.7 / 11.8 g. If I trust the old collector - and he is over 90 in age, these would be the rupees which were minted by the British traders for use in upmarket areas. They were forced to resort to such tactics because the Mint masters at the Mughal Mints delayed minting silver brought in by these merchants - taken to the mint for coining. This would delay their departure for the inland areas and also delay their business. So they were advised to resort to these means.

Amit

Amit
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