As far as the numismatics and coin collectors calendar goes, the Annual Coin, Banknote and Philately Fair organized by the Mumbai Coin Society recently was an important event. Up for grabs were some historic and fairly valuable coins. With the highest prized one being the gold coin of King Krishna of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The annual fair is popular among coin collectors and numismatics enthusiasts , Mumbai being a big center for coin auctions.
Here is a look at the top draws
1. Gold Dinar of Samudra Gupta
The Ashwamedha gold dinar of Samudra Gupta was auctioned for a whopping price of Rs 6 lakhs by Todywalla Auction House. The Gupta gold coins are known as dinars and they are the most extraordinary examples of numismatic and artistic excellence. Samudra Gupta was one of the most celebrated rulers of the Gupta dynasty (4th – 6th century CE). The ‘Asvamedha’ type coins of Samudra Gupta are unique. In these we find a horse standing before a yupa or a sacrificial post with text around the coin mentioning the King as the conqueror of heaven, earth, and the oceans. The coin presented in the auction was one of the finest specimens seen to date and thus commanded a high price.
2. Gold Pardao of John III of Portugal
John III was the king of Portugal from 1521 to 1557. During his rule, Brazil was colonized and Portuguese possessions extended deep into Asia thus giving him the nickname of ‘o Colonizador’ (The Colonizer).
John III’s policy of reinforcing Portugal’s bases in India, secured Portugal’s monopoly over the spice trade. With the development of trade and commerce in Cochin, there was a great demand for coins. The Portuguese therefore established a mint in this city in 1530 to issue coins. The coin in the picture was issued in Cochin in the name of John III. The gold coin is extremely rare and was sold at the price of Rs. 6 lakh by Todywalla Auctions.
3. Gold Gadyana of Krishna II
Another significant coin was the gold gadyana of Rashtrakuta King Krishna II. The gold coin is extremely rare and is in very good condition.
Rashtrakutas controlled most of the western coast of the subcontinent, and hence trade from here, between the 6th and 10th century CE. The dynastic symbol of the Rastrakutas was the Garuda or the eagle. The coin illustrates a cross-legged Garuda seated on a lotus. The coin has an inscription which reads ‘Shri Shubtunga’ in Nagari script and a pseudo-Arabic legend on both the sides of the coin. Pseudo legend means that the original script is blindly copied on the coin and does not necessarily make sense. The pseudo-Arabic legend indicated that they had trade contacts with Arabs and copied their coins.
Though the coin wasn’t sold in the auction, the opening bid was among the highest, at Rs 7 lakh.
4. Gold Mohur of Jahangir
The coins of Mughal Emperor Jahangir are prized by experts and coin collectors all over the world because of their uniqueness and rarity. This gold mohur of Jahangir, issued at the Burhanpur mint is very rare and was sold at Rs 4.1 lakhs by Todywalla auctions. This very rare gold mohur was issued by Jahangir during the month of Di. The obverse of this coin is inscribed as ‘Nur-Al-Din Jahangir Shah Akbar Shah’. The reverse of the coin is inscribed as ‘Ilahi month Di’, on the top, along with the mint name ‘Burhanpur’ in the middle line and Regnal year 17 at the bottom.
5. Silver Rupee of Shah Alam II
The silver rupee coin of Shah Alam II (1759 -1806 CE), the sixteenth Mughal Emperor was sold by Oswal Auction House for Rs. 1.7 lakhs, though the initial bid was Rs. 75 thousand. This coin issued from the Sirhind mint, was one of the biggest highlights of the auction as it is extremely rare and only one other coin is known to exist. That one is at the British Museum.
The coin marks an important historical event. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the once mighty Mughal Empire was crumbling and the Maratha power reached its zenith. The Mughals became mere titular rulers and the boundaries of the Mughal Empire were protected by the Maratha army. During the reign of Shah Alam II, the Mughals faced the wrath of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afganistan, which led to the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 between the Maratha army and invading forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afganistan and other allies.
The region of Sirhind was in control of the Afgan Governor Abd us-Samad Khan and he was killed by the Marathas when they captured Kunjpura on 13 October 1760. For a short period, between October 1760 and January 1761, Marathas minted and issued coins under the name of Shah Alam II from the Sirhind mint, making the silver rupee of Shah Alam II historic and valuable.
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