Author Topic: Shah Jahan. Rupee. Mint: Surat.AH 1067 / RY 31 - different types or subtypes?  (Read 96 times)

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Offline asm

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Here is another minor variation on a coin of the Surat mint. Rupees of Surat are considered very common and many collectors look the other way when the coins of this mint are offered. This is where collectors like me benefit.

Here is a rupee of Surat, issued in AH 1067 - with the year engraved as 1027 - a very common error. Though this series is a very short run issue, with the coins issued in just one RY - 31, spread over AH 1067 and partly in 1068, the coins of AH 1067 are fairly easy to find.

However, the way the mint name is engraved is what makes this coin stand out. Normal coins of this type show the mint name Surat engraved in one straight line above the mint indicator (Zarb). On this coin, the mint name is split and written in 3 lines. The 'te' of Surat is engraved between the 'Swaad - re' and the 'be' of zarb.

So would this be a different type or a different sub-type? There are 2 variations - one is the error in date engraving and then the way the mint name is engraved.

Amit
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"

Offline asm

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Here is the comparison of my coin with a normal coin - but with a wrongly engraved date.

Amit

"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"

Online Figleaf

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At what point does a variety become a type? As so often in numismatics, it is in the eye of the beholder. In your collection, you collect your way. Two examples. In the last few iterations of the KM catalogues, coins with a different mint mark are given distinct sub-type numbers for some countries. I can imagine date collectors paying attention to mint mark. I can imagine collectors of pre-machine struck coins arguing that mints would make their own dies, so there could be differences. However, would a type collector look at the mint?

At least one would. Me. I am assembling a type collection of euro coins from circulation for my granddaughters to play with. In principle, I will take up any coin that is in any way different, except in date. Those Greek coins struck abroad, German coins that are exactly the same except for the mint mark, even French and Belgian coins with different mint marks all count for me. That's because I hope the collection will teach my granddaughters about coins.

On to your coin. The lesson of the coin in question is that in Mogul India, die engravers had some leeway with the layout of the die. It is a practical and flexible way to work, but it is also giving up a security feature: if all coins are the same, those that are not stand out and may be forgeries. It follows that the coins in question tended to go by weight, rather than by tally. You can reach the same conclusion by looking at shroff marks, that take this conclusion one step further: at least to the shroff, precious metal content was as important as weight.

How important is that conclusion to you? The more specialised you are, the more important it is, but even if you are not specialised, the coin is a fun and educational example. That's what is important, not what is in "the catalogue".

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

Offline asm

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On to your coin. The lesson of the coin in question is that in Mogul India, die engravers had some leeway with the layout of the die. It is a practical and flexible way to work, but it is also giving up a security feature: if all coins are the same, those that are not stand out and may be forgeries. It follows that the coins in question tended to go by weight, rather than by tally. You can reach the same conclusion by looking at shroff marks, that take this conclusion one step further: at least to the shroff, precious metal content was as important as weight.

How important is that conclusion to you? The more specialised you are, the more important it is, but even if you are not specialised, the coin is a fun and educational example. That's what is important, not what is in "the catalogue".

Peter
Peter, I am collecting coins of an era where the dies were hand cut / engraved. So it was almost impossible to have two identical dies. So small variations did not matter much. I believe the engravers had a leeway to fit in words / letters as they deemed fit - and it is the result of this that is seen on my coin. It appears that the die cutter was not very careful and ended up not have room to engrave the last letter t (Te) of Surat and hence made a small diversion. He was probably free to do this - but was not free to alter the legend. As one can see on some other coin, the date is placed at a different position but the legend is not altered. Since the legend is the same, I would say, it is not a different type. However, whether such small differences can be called sub-types is the question.

As regards the economic part of your reply, the coins were traded as commodity - so the silver coin - there was no value assigned to the coin (mentioned on the coin) was worth the weight of the silver in it. In fact, in actual terms it was worth the actual pure silver weight of the coin. So debased coins traded at a little below par as compared to the fine silver coins. The shroff was concerned with the actual weight of pure silver in the coin and that was the reason that coins, in use over time were gradually devalued. In fact the copper coin too was a commodity coinage that could be exchanged for both silver and smaller non metallic coinage - besides commodities in the marketplace.     
Catalogues - unless they are very specialised, can not provide such fine details and that is the fun of collecting - to be able to discover what is different from what is already known or listed.

Amit
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"