Tuesday, June 28, 2005

PreDecimal Coins of India


In the olden days, India was made up of many countries.
On and off, there were several empires which would group together these countries under their folds. But usually there would be more than three empires at any one time; except on two occasions - during the rules of Asoka, Mohammed bin Tughlaq, and Aurangazeb.
When the British came to India and started to become land-holders, there were more than two thousand countries.
By conquest, and by the Law of Lapse, they took over most of these countries until 1870's when Queen Victoria became the Empress of India.
When the British gave independance to India, there were 562 Native States in addition to the British Presidencies.
During the course of the rule of the British Empire, the British standardised the coinage. Some of the Native States had been given special privileges to issue their own coins. But the British Indian coinage was currency in all parts of India.

While standardising, they did away with many of the coinage which were in existance at that time.
From 1870 onwards, the coinage remained more or less the same, while accommodating some minor alterations. During this period until 1947, a few of the coins were abolished. Due to changes in the economical condition of the British Empire, and the demands on metal made by the two World Wars, the coins were debased to a considerable degree. Some of the coins which were 97 percent silver became debased to have a lesser silver content.
Let us see those coins and how much they were worth.

This system of coinage was later known as the 'Rupee - Anna - Paisa' system.
It was based on the Rupee and its fractions.

The Rupee was a silver coin which was made up of 16 annas.
1 anna had 3 thuttus.
A thuttu was originally known as a Pice.
1 pice had 4 salli or thambidi.
A thambidi was originally known as 1/12 anna.

The coinage was based on these denominations.

1. The smallest was therefore the thambidi alias salli.
4 of them made 1 thuttu
12 of them made 1 anna.
There were 192 thambidis in 1 rupee.

2. 1/2 thuttu which was equal to two thambidis
This was one of coins to abolished early

3. 1/4 anna which was otherwise known as mukkaa thuttu or 3/4 thuttu

4. 1 thuttu = 4 thambidis
This was also abolished early.

The above coins were copper coins.

5. half anna = 6 thambidis

This was originally a copper coin but was replaced later by a small coin of nickel copper alloy.

6. 1 anna = 12 thambidis

7. 2 annas

These were nickel/copper alloy coins.

After this was the silver coinage series.

8. 1/8 rupee. This was also known as one Panam or Fanam. This is actually equal to 2 annas. After the First World War, this was abolished.

9. 1/4 rupee = 4 annas

10. 1/2 rupee = 8 annas

11. 1 rupee

After the Silver Series, was the Gold Series.

A Sovereign or English Pound was equal to 3.5 Silver Rupees.

A Varahan was also equal to 3.5 rupees. This coin went out of use a very long time ago. But still merchants were paying salaries based on the varahan until 1950.

A Mohur. This was a Mughal coin.

A Pagoda - This was a British East India Company coin.

Let us see the coins in the Obverse and the Reverse.



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