Author Topic: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?  (Read 366 times)

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Offline asm

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MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« on: November 20, 2019, 08:57:41 AM »
Further to this discussion - NATIONALITY OF COINS, I have prepared a detailed argument on why I would like to call all coins issued in the name of the Mughal Emperor and issued to the Mughal standards of fineness, purity and carrying the legend decreed by the Emperor even when he was not having any authority.

I would appreciate members comments on my thoughts. Unfortunately, I could not upload the pictures here because of size limitations.

Amit
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Offline asm

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Re: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2019, 08:58:20 AM »
A question frequently asked by collectors and one to which I have no conclusive answer is -whether the Mughal style coins issued in the name of the ruling Mughal Emperor by the various local administrative authorities (Princely States, British and French authorities etc) should be classified as Mughal coinage or should be attributed to the local authority or administration – like individual Princely States or the British or French colonial authorities. There seems to be no general agreement on this as I have received different but no convincing answers. While the majority opinion seems to be in favour of classifying these coins to the local minting authority, some have vehemently opposed this and have put forward their views in calling them Mughal coins. The answer to this question is not very simple, especially in view of the very complex nature of administration and control in India.

To understand this complex subject, let us first analyze the way an area was controlled and administered. Before the Mughal invasion India was governed by a few Mohammedan dynasties ruling in Dehli, Jaunpur, Gujarat, Malwa, Bengal etc. etc in the Northern, Central and Eastern part of the country while in the South we had the Nizam Shahs in Golkonda, Madura Sultans etc as well as a few Hindu dynasties. The early Mughals (from the time of Akbar to the time of Aurangzeb) consolidated the empire and took hold of almost whole of India (see Map I). However as the Mughal Empire became bigger and the rulers weaker; a few local chieftains started exercising their own authority and soon these local chiefs, refused to accept Mughal suzerainty and started acting independently (See Map II)

To better understand the system of governance in Mughal times, we have to look at the way the administration was organised. The Mughal Empire was divided into different ‘subas’ or provinces, with a ‘subedar’ appointed from Delhi to look after the administration of the state on behalf of the Dehli overlords. The ‘subedar’ was in charge of the local administration and was also responsible for the collection of revenue from the areas under his control. He would keep a part of this revenue for local administration and expenses and for his own share and send a fixed sum to Dehli.  After the death of Aurangzeb, as his successors became weak, these nobles became more powerful. This continued with successive governments till a time came when the Mughal Emperors owed their power to these nobles.  With increasing power, these nobles started ignoring the Dehli overlords and the succession of the local governors or ‘subedars’ started becoming hereditary rather than by appointment from Dehli. These ‘subedars’, started exercising their own authority over the areas under their command and stopped remitting revenue to Dehli. In those times, as coins were the best way to announce the owner or overlord of an area, these local chiefs, to show their independence, initially substituted the mint mark – the symbol in the letter س (seen) of the word ‘سجلو’ (Julus) on the reverse of the coins with a symbol or a mark of their choice (later on placing a mark on the coin at any place of their own choosing) – to show their independence from the Mughal overlord, yet, followed the Mughal ‘firmans’ on all other aspects of the coinage thereby acknowledging the Mughal Emperors over-lordship.

Let us take the example of Nizam in Haiderabad (Hyderabad). Asaf Jha I, who was the Mughal ‘subedar’ in the Deccan, started acting more or less independent of the Dehli overlords sometime early during the reign of Muhammad Shah. Very soon he substituted the symbol (fig 1) in the letter ‘س’ of the word ‘سجلو’ with a different symbol (fig 2). This was the only noticeable change on the coinage of the state. So, while the coinage continued to be minted to the Imperial Mughal standards, the minor change of symbol was incorporated to assert his authority over the area of his influence.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 10:32:24 AM by asm »
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Offline asm

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Re: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2019, 08:59:19 AM »
The Marathas on the other hand, the independent rulers at Pune, attacked various parts of Gujarat and finally succeeded in removing the Mughal ‘subedar’ at Ahmedabad and in taking over the administration and the revenue collection of the city.
If we compare the coinage of Ahmedabad during the transition, we find that the flower mint mark on the coins of Ahmedabad when under Mughal authority was replaced by an ‘Ankush’ (elephant goad) by the Marathas. All other features remained constant. A few years later, the ruler of the state of Khambayat, Momin Khan, who was earlier the Mughal Governor of Khambayat and Ahmedabad, waged a war in the name of the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II and successfully drove the Marathas out of Ahmedabad, only to lose out to them in a little over a year. When the administration of Ahmedabad was taken from the Marathas and was with Momin Khan, acting on behalf of the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II, the Maratha sign of ‘Ankush’ was replaced by the Mughal Flower. However, immediately after the Marathas regained control of Ahmedabad, the ‘Ankush’ made a comeback on the coins of Ahmedabad. (See Image Maratha Ahmedabad)

In both these cases we see that the coinage continued to be minted in the name of the Mughal Rulers, with the same legends / couplet as was decreed by the Mughal sovereign with a small change – the symbol in the ‘س’ of the word ‘سجلو’ on the reverse. There was no other change, neither in the metallurgy of the coins nor in the weight or the legends. The coins continued to be struck in the name and as per the design sanctioned by the Mughal emperor who ruled at Dehli, except the subtle change in symbols. 
Though Ahmedabad was officially under Maratha control, the position on the ground was that the rights of collecting revenue and local administration of the city was farmed out to a ‘Kamvisdar’. When the control of the revenue collection of Ahmedabad changed hands from one ‘Kamvisdar’ to another, subtle differences were noticed in the ‘Ankush’ symbol in the ‘س’ of the word ‘سجلو’. All other features, including the legend as well as the other specifications like metal purity, weight etc continued to the same standards set by the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. (See Image Maratha Kamvisdars)

Still later, when the control of Ahmedabad passed from the Marathas to the Gaekwads, they added a letter ‘गा’  to show the change in authority. This was not in the ‘س’ of the word ‘سجلو’ but right below the ‘جلو’ of the word ‘جلوس’ The legend continued to be the same as decreed by the ruling Mughal Emperor at Dehli. The ‘Ankush’ too remained there to serve as a reminder that they were Marathas. At the same time, the coins of Baroda mint of these very same Gaekwads who were in control of Ahmedabad, show the initial of the Gaekwad and the Sword as the mint mark – the sword denoting the ‘Samsher’ – the title of the Gaekwads but the legend remained the same as that used in Ahmedabad and as decreed by the Ruling Mughal Monarch in Dehli. This, in my opinion, serves to prove that in Baroda, the Gaekwads were the semi-independent rulers, not under Maratha control but still acknowledged the Mughal over-lordship. (See image - Maratha Baroda)

The British were permitted by a charter issued by their King – King James II on 31st December 1600 AD to mint coins for trade in India. They did attempt to mint such coins at the island of Mumbai, which was a gift to the King of Britain as Dowry from the Portuguese. This act invited the wrath of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who ordered that these coins be destroyed. He later permitted the English traders to set up a mint at Mumbai, but imposed a condition that the coins minted in their mint must adhere strictly to the style and the specifications of the Imperial Mughal coinage and also decreed that they be considered current across the empire, at par with the Mughal Coinage. This continued for some time with the English mint at Mumbai / Munbai minting Mughal style coins in the name of the Mughal Emperor and meeting all the standards of the Mughal coins. (See image - Early British)

Clive got the right to mint coins for the Bengal Presidency of the East India Company by the treaty of Alinagar signed with the Nawab of Bengal,Mirza Muhammad Siraj Ud Daula on Feb 9, 1757. These coins too were minted in the Mughal style and standards mandated.

The French too minted their own coins in India when their governor, Dupleix De Volton, got the rights to mint coins in Pondicherry, from the Nawab of Arcot around 1693. These coins too were struck were in the name and style of the Mughal coinage. Coinage struck at the other French mints also followed the same pattern. (See image - French)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 11:32:15 AM by asm »
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Offline asm

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Re: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2019, 09:00:03 AM »
A study of the coinage circulating in India around the mid 17th and the 18th Century shows that the coins circulating in the areas originally controlled by the Mughals was Mughal style where as the coins circulating in territories where the local chieftains had been fully or semi independent during the Mughal times did not follow the same style.

States like Travancore, Cannanore, Cochin, Coorg, Puddokatai and Mysore under Hider Ali and Tipu Sultan, etc did not succumb to the Mughal Emperors and remained fully independent and this is clearly reflected in their coinage. (see: Cannanore image)

However after Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed, Mysore reverted to the Wodeyears, who under the influence of the British, issued coins in Mughal style, in the name of Shah Alam II. (See: Hyder Ali image)

So also is the case of Assam, Cooch-Behar, Jaintiapur, Kachar, Manipur, Sikkim, Tripura in the North East of India.  (See: Assam image)
 
When Tripura briefly came under the British between 1761 and 1767, the coins issued bear the Mughal legend of Shah Alam II. However soon thereafter, the coins are seen to revert to the original designs.  (See image - Tripura)

Some states like Nawanagar, except for a brief period when it was conquered by the Mughal forces and christened IslamNagar and Porbandar etc. which did not bow to Mughal authority continued issuing coins in the name of the Sultans of Gujarat - may be in deference to the fact that they were permitted to coin by Muzzaffar Shah III. (see image - Navanagar)

States like Junagadh and Kutch – that were never directly under Mughal Authority but had their existence owed to the Empire – by agreeing to pay royalty to the Mughal Emperor, minted coins in their own name but with the name with the name of Muzzaffar Shah III of Gujarat Sultanate on one side and of the Mughal Emperor on the other side. These coins are distinctly different from Mughal coins in all aspects – Design, weight standard and the legends on the coin.  (See:  image Saurashtra)

States that acknowledged their existence directly to the Mughal Empire like Awadh, Bharatpur, Baroda, Bharuch, Bhopal, Cambay, Gwalior, Jaipur, Bangash Nawabs of Ahmednagar & Farrukhabad, Indore, Jaisalmer, Rohilkhand, the Marathas etc. amongst many others, issued coins acknowledging this fact. Their coins were of distinct Mughal flavour in all respects except for some small marks to distinguish them from Imperial Mughal issues. (See image common)

It was after the complete decimation of the Mughal Empire after the First War of India’s Independence in 1858, that states started to issue coins in their own names or in the name of the British Monarch, whose protection they had taken.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 01:35:23 PM by asm »
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Re: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2019, 09:00:40 AM »
By 1835, the British had taken control of the administration of most of India while the Mughal sphere of influence had greatly diminished. The uniform coinage of the BEIC was introduced all over the country with the rupees minted in the name of King William IV. These coins would be surely classified as Presidency issues or issues of the East India Company who was the ruling and revenue collecting authority.
 
To determine whether the coins minted by a semi independent authority (Independent States or the European powers) were sovereign issues or Mughal issues, let us look at what defines sovereignty. Coins are the best instruments to prove the sovereignty of its issuer. An issuer of coins shows his sovereign power by issuing coins. This was very true in Mughal times. A ruler who ascended the throne immediately called for the ceremony of ‘Kutbah’ & ‘Sikka’. Reading of the ‘Kutbah’ in his name and the ‘sikka’ or stamping of the coins ensured that the new incumbent was recognized as the sovereign head. Sovereignty is the ability in practice to rule over an area. A major test of sovereignty is the right to collect taxes and revenue, defend borders and deal with other sovereign entities. A sovereign or an independent ruler is the one that holds this sovereignty. The area under a sovereigns’ control or rule means inhabitable land with a permanent population and a fair degree of recognition.

A sovereign ruler's coins can be assigned to the area he / she rules. A sovereign ruler has the right to outsource minting to anyone including foreigners. This is a long-standing practice that continues even today. Outsourcing does not change the "nationality" of the coin. In cases of outsourcing, the ruler retains the right to determine the weight, size and other technical details of the coin; its metal content and purity; the coins denomination and other design elements.

Today, most coins are easy to classify according to "nationality". If they are minted without the permission of the sovereign ruler, they are termed ‘fantasies’ and are not legal tender. It is the sovereign ruler who determines the "nationality" of the coin. However, the outsourcing process may create leakages. If the process is in accordance with the standards set, there is no problem. However, if the power to determine the minting standards including the design, weigh, purity of metal, legends etc is in the hands of the entity that mints the coins, the sovereignty of the ruler is in doubt.

In the period under discussion, the process of minting was outsourced to the ‘subedar’ of the province. The ‘subedar’ minted coins as ordained by the royal decree. Once he started becoming independent, he started making subtle changes in the design without altering the basic specifications, weight, purity or the legends on the coins. So, though the Mughal Emperor had little or no say over the affairs or the administration of a state or a share in its revenue, the coins kept being minted in his name and with the same specifications as ordained by the royal decree. The reading of the ‘Kutbah’ and the ‘Sikka’ ceremony of the Mughal emperor ensured necessary changes in the coin designs even in areas not actually paying a tribute or generating revenue for the Empire. The metal purity, alloy content, legends and denominations – all followed the royal decree – whether the coins were minted by a mint under direct Mughal influence or by a mint under the local ruler who acted independent and did not pay the taxes due to the Emperor or the European Powers who had started controlling vast swathes of territories.

The British traders of the East India Company, despite a decree from their King, could not mint coins in their (British) rulers name but had to be contended with minting coins in the name of the Mughal rulers. They did not claim the authority to alter either the specifications of the alloy or the sizes and denominations of coins or the legends on the coin themselves.

If the coins had been minted in the name of their own rulers – as was tried out by them when the coins were minted in the name of James II and also the (so called) coins of William & Mary, it would have been sovereign East India Company issues. However, since the coins did not have any such distinguishing features, it is difficult to classify them as independent or sovereign British / Presidency issues. Similarly, we have also seen coins of many states that, though they never acknowledged Mughal authority, have coins that are completely in conformity with the Imperial Mughal issues. At the same time, as we have seen in the foregoing, some states, which did acknowledge Mughal sovereignty but were not administered directly at any time by the Mughals did not follow Mughal minting standards while those states, that were never influenced by the Mughal authority or maybe threw off the Mughal suzerainty completely, never issued coins in the name of or bearing any resemblance to the Imperial Mughal coinage.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 10:32:19 AM by asm »
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Re: MUGHAL STYLE COINS – MUGHAL ISSUES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUES?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2019, 09:01:14 AM »
CONCLUSION:
So, we see that the coins issued by the British till 1835 when the Uniform Coinage was introduced, were minted in the name of the ruling Mughal Monarch. They were minted to the weight standards and purity decreed by the Mughal Emperor and carried the same legends as required by royal decree. The French too followed the same standards in the areas they controlled. This was because the Mughal Emperors had decreed that these authorities must mint coins to the Mughal standards, with the name of the then ruling Mughal emperor. Coins not meeting these specific requirements had to be withdrawn. In fact, as seen in the foregoing, when the British took control of a state which did not mint coins to Mughal specifications, they introduced Mughal style coinage for the time they remained in control. Princely States (or Native States as the British referred to them) who were earlier under Mughal control but had gained independence when the Mughal Rulers became weak also minted coins as decreed by the Mughals. The mighty Marathas, to whom the Shah Alam II owed his throne as also the rulers of Oudh and the Rohillas – to whom the Mughal authority was indebted to, also followed the minting instructions of the Mughal Emperor who was the then current ruler. As against this, states that never owed allegiance to the Mughal power did not follow the Mughal diktat and minted coins of a distinct style, different weight and metal purity. So to conclude, I would say that the coins minted in the name of the Mughal Rulers with the same specifications, legends, purity and weight as ordained by the Imperial Mughal Decree should be referred to as Mughal Issues or Mughal Coins minted by that local ruling authority while coins that were minted either having the name of the Mughal Emperor on one side or not having any reference to the Mughal authority and not minted to the Imperial Mughal specifications should be referred to as the individual State issues. There rests my case.

I have often heard an argument that the coins were minted to a common standard for ease of trade. To me this argument does not carry much weight since there were many states that did not mint coins to the Mughal standards. So did the people of these states not trade with the people of the other states? The Indian marketplace, unlike what historians want us to believe, was a very vibrant one and the Indian population, though illiterate in terms of education as we know it today, was very smart. Weight and Metal purity could be easily checked at every nook and corner of a village and exchange of coins based on metal purity and weight was fairly common even at local village levels.     

This piece is not meant to discourage anyone from collecting anything. A collector is always free to collect whatever interests him. At the same time, calling a coin a Mughal issue or a State issue will not change the coin.

Amit
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 10:30:57 AM by asm »
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"