portrait coins of india

                                             written and authored by Yashoda N Singh

I have been studying and collecting portrait coins of India, specifically Portuguese India and pre-Independence Principalities, for a while.

Brief History of Indian Portrait Coins

Mauryans and later kingdoms (~600 BC to ~300 AD) in both North and South India issued only punch-marked coins, bearing crude likenesses of animals, wheel and taurines, sun and moon, flora and symbols, for nearly a thousand years. Alexander the Great it is believed invaded India in 326 BC and upon his sudden death left his generals to rule his new empire. They came to be known as the Baktrians and Indo-Greeks. But Indian kingdoms apparently took no notice of their coinage and continued to mint punch-marked and later die-cast coins, sometimes adding stick human figures or crude depictions of gods and goddesses. The Baktrians and Indo-Greeks were supplanted on the Indian continent by the Kushans.

The early Baktrians, Indo-Greeks and Kushans imitated the Greeks and Macedonians, turning out coins rich in portraiture. The coins, especially the tetradrachms, of Diodotus, Euthydemos I & II, Demetrius I, and Eucratides, are works of art. The fact that all their coins show the same nearly identical facial features and in such detail for each ruler we can be fairly certain that in real life they looked as shown on the coins.

Baktrian: Euthydemos II (185-180 BC), Attic-standard tetradrachm

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Baktrian: Eucratides I (171-145 BC) Attic Standard tetradrachm

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Some of the coins of the Indo-Greeks pass Greek muster but soon the art of the mint master falls off dramatically with the later rulers.

Indo-Greek: Philoxenos I (100-95 BC) Indian-standard tetradrachm

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


To appreciate how far the coinage of the later Indo-Greeks had fallen from its artistic high, see the following example: Zoilus II (75-50 BC)

images Courtesy: CNG

The early Kushans – Heraios or Yeu Chi, Vima Kadphises, Kanishka and Huvishka produced beautiful portrait coins but the rulers who followed them allowed their coins to deteriorate to stick figures.

Kushan: Heraios or Yeu Chi (1-30 AD) tetradrachm. All his coins bear nearly the same portrait, leading us to believe that in real life Heraios looked as depicted on his coins.

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Kushan: Vima Kadphises ( 90-100 AD) dinar

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s

Note the bearded heavy jaw, the aquiline nose and body girth of Vima. All his coins show these features. The coins of Kanishka I, again, are unmistakable. It appears most of their coins were issued by local mints where artisans may have been familiar with how the king looked.


Kushan: Kanishka I (127-150 AD) dinar

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


It is an inescapable fact that the Indian mints were technologically far behind and could not match those of the Baktrians, early Indo-Greeks, or early Kushans. Claim has been made for the artistic beauty of the Gupta and post-Gupta gold coins but in my opinion very few of them can receive a passing grade. The lion- or tiger-slayer coins of Kumaragupta I or Samudragupta’s lyricist coins are exceptions. However, these coins are “realistic” portraiture of the king and queen only in the sense of being delineated with great detail and artistry, but they cannot be said to reflect how the rulers looked in real life.

Gupta: Samudragupta Lyricist type dinar (335-380 AD)

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Gupta: Kumaragupta I (415-455 AD) Tiger-slayer type dinar

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Like the coinage of the later Indo-Greeks, the coinage of the later Guptas also reveals how barbarous their coins had become.

For example: Budhagupta dinar (475-96 AD). This coin is in fact one of his better coins

images Courtesy: CNG


It is time we defined what we mean by “portrait” coins. Coins that bear portraits of historical people certainly qualify as portrait coins. Should we distinguish between portraits that are historically accurate (e.g., Demetrius I) and portraits that are imagined, for example Kanishka’s Buddha, since the artisans could have had no idea of what Buddha looked like centuries after his death. What about portraits of mythical characters, such as Athena, Zeus, Hanuman or Lakshmi?

Or for that matter, what should we think of portraits appearing on Western Mahakashtrapa or Gupta coinage that are nearly identical for all the rulers of that dynasty? If we restrict our definition to realistic portraiture, we would be left with very few Indian coins that would pass the test, so I propose we expand our definition to include all coins that realistically depict or try to depict as best they can rulers as human beings.

Coins of post-Mauryan India – Indo-Scythian, Western Satraps, Parata Rajas, Satavahnas, Hephthalite, Indo-Sasasian, Alchon/Nezak Huns, Kidarites, Vardhanas of Kanauj, Chauhan of Ranasthambpura, Samtata, Vallabhi of Gujarat – bore portraits of sorts. Below are three examples, the first of Gautamiputra Rajni Shri Satkarni of the Satavahnas, second of Nahapana of the Western Satraps, and the third of Kidarite “King B”. In these instances the portraits may or may not be accurate; the Nahapana portrait is certainly generic. One cannot identify a ruler by his portrait alone. If more proof is needed we only have to see the silver coins of the Guptas; they are clearly derived from the coinage of the Western Satraps and are also generic. We would have no way of telling who the ruler was except by what the inscription said.

Satavahanas: Gautamiputra Rajni Shri Satakarni (left) – 1st-2nd C AD

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s

Western Satraps: Nahapana (right) – 119-124 AD

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Kidarite “King B” (below) – 3rd-4th C BC

images Courtesy: CNG


Among the Muslim dynasties of India only two coin types bearing portraits can be cited – the Horseman tanka ino Shams al-Din Iltumish (Delhi Sultans) and portrait mohurs of Jahangir, one type shown below and the other holding a wine cup (Mughal).

Mughals: Jahangir (1605-1628 AD)

images Courtesy: CNG


AV Horseman Tanka ino Delhi Sultan Iltumish (1211-36 AD) Rare variety

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Between the demise of the Vardhanas of Kanauj and the establishment of the British and Portuguese on the continent, Islamic coinage in North India and the Deccan bore only Arabic or Persian calligraphy; no human images were permitted. Not even the Hindu kingdoms or East India Company (till 1835) issued any portrait coins during this time. Another 1000 years passed before portraits graced the face of Indian coinage again.

Collections of Indian coins generally have been done by period (Mauryans, Chalukiyas, Mughals, British) or by region (South India, North India, Northeast India), or by ruler (Akbar, Victoria), or by State (Baroda, Hyderabad). No one to my knowledge has attempted to collect portrait coins exclusively. I, therefore, believe that collection of portrait coins is a worthwhile and refreshing addition to type collections. My current collection is one such effort. It includes coins of Portuguese India and pre-Independence States or principalities. It excludes British India.


Portuguese India

Portuguese India has been the most neglected area for coin collectors even though the Portuguese colonial rule lasted for nearly 5 centuries, longer than any other colonial power – the Danes, the Dutch, the French, or the English. Note that Portugal was the only colonial power that did not employ Arabic, Persian or other vernacular scripts. From the aesthetic viewpoint their colonial coins were arguably at par with those of the colonial Danes, Dutch and French but cruder than the English.

The early coins of Portuguese India did not carry portraits. At most they depicted saints such as Thomas or John. Beginning in 1726, coins of certain denominations bore the portraits of the reigning monarchs of Portugal till 1904 after which Portugal became a Republic and ceased to carry the monarch’s portrait. Only the rupia coin of 1912 shows a bust, that of lady Liberty. Denominations of Portuguese coins are a complex lot. Most of the names are derived from Oriental sources, e.g., Bazaruco meaning bazaar money, pardao, xerafin, rupia, and tanga.

The monetary system was designed to facilitate trade between Indian kingdoms surrounding Portuguese territories and their own and that between their territories in Africa, India and the Far East. The values of the various denominations were generally pegged to the Reis, for example one rupia was equivalent to 600 reis. In their Indian territories which included Bengal, Cochin, Chaul, Bacaim, Daman, Diu and Goa, the Portuguese denominations that bore portraits of reigning monarchs were the half xerafin, tanga and its fractions (1/2, ¼, 1/8, 1/12), pardao, half pardao, rupia and its fractions (1/2, ¼, 1/8).

Rulers under whose names these portrait coins were issued were: John V (1706-50 AD), Jose I (Joseph) (1750-77 AD), Maria I & Pedro III (1777-99 AD), Joao VI (1816-26 AD), Pedro IV (1826-28 AD), Miguel I (1828-34 AD), Maria II (1834-53 AD), Pedro V (1853-61 AD), Luiz I (1861-89 AD), and Carlos I (1889-1908 AD).

The hairdos of the male and female portraits and the elaborate jewelry on the female portraits are well engraved and remarkable for their diversity. Before 1800, lacking technical ability and perhaps the absence of artifacts such as paintings or busts which could have formed the basis for accurate portraits, the Portuguese mints on the subcontinent produced portraits of rulers that differed from year to year.

John V: ½ tanga, tanga, ½ pardao, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1737 John V Rupia


Jose: ½ tanga, tanga, ½ pardao, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1776 Jose I Rupia

images Courtesy: CNG


Maria I & Pedro III: ½ tanga, tanga, ½ pardao, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the rulers in bold.

1782 Maria I & Pedro III Conjoined Busts Rupia

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1782 Maria I & Pedro III Conjoined Busts Pardao

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Joao: tanga, ½ xerafin, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1819/8 Joao VI ½ Xerafin

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Pedro IV: rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1828 Pedro IV Rupia


Miguel I: ½ xerafin, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1833 Miguel I Rupia

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Maria II: ½ pardao, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold. From this period, the Portuguese coins, chiefly rupias, show they have achieved parity with British coinage in execution.

1803 Maria II Rupia

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1846 Maria II Rupia

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1850 Maria II Rupia

images Courtesy: Numisma


1846 Maria II Meio (1/2) Pardao

images Courtesy: CNG


Pedro V: tanga, ½ pardao, pardao, rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1856 Pedro V Rupia

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1856 Pedro V Meio (1/2) Pardao

images Courtesy: CNG


1857 Pedro V Tanga (60 Reis)


Luiz I: 1/8, 1/4 tanga; 1/8, ¼, ½, 1 rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1868 Luiz I Rupia

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1881 Luiz I Uma Rupia

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1881 Luiz I 1/8 Rupia

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1881 Luiz I ¼ Tanga

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Carlos I: 1/12, 1/8, ¼, ½ tanga; rupia. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the ruler in bold.

1903 Carlos I Uma Rupia


1901 Carlos I 1/2 Tanga

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Liberty Head Uma overstrike Rupia,  dated 1912/1 – not a portrait coin in the strict sense of the term. Image courtesy Coin Kingdom.

Liberty Head pattern Uma Rupia in copper, dated 1911. Not strictly a portrait but included nevertheless for its aesthetic appeal.

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


British India: Pre-Independence States or principalities

After the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 the States or principalities of North India began to cozy up to the British. A number of States issued coins with the name of the British reigning monarch in Persian, Kaithi, Devanagari or English; some as protectorates of the British bore portraits of the reigning monarchs. Others issued coins bearing their own portraits. Muslim principalities, however, shunned such practice; only two Muslim States issued coins bearing their own ruler’s portraits.

States that issued portrait coinage were: Alwar, Bahawalpur, Baroda, Bharatpur, Bikanir, Bindraban, Datia, Dewas Senior Branch, Dewas Junior Branch, Dhar, Faridkot, Gwalior, Indore, Jaipur, Sailana, Travancore, and Tripura. Some of these States as well as other States not cited above issued coins bearing Devanagari, Persian or English inscriptions that included the names of Mughal emperors or English monarchs, but these cannot be considered portrait coinage.


Alwar: Rupee. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

“1788” Error (1877) coin of Mangal Singh Bahadur of Alwar State bearing a portrait of Empress Victoria.

Courtesy: Stephen Album


1891 Rupee of Alwar with bust of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Bahawalpur: Rupee, ¼ Anna (Pice), ½ Pice, Asharfi. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

AH1343 (1925) Nazarana rupee of Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V of Bahawalpur State

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


½ Pice of Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V of Bahawalpur State dated AH1359


Pice (1/4 Anna) of Sadiq Muhammad Khan V of Bahawalpur State dated AH1359


Baroda: Patterns including off metal strikes, Rupee, ½ Rupee, 4 anna, 2 anna, 1/6 mohur, 1/3 mohur, mohur. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Piedfort pattern rupee in copper dated VS 1943 (1886) showing a bust of Sri Sayaji Rao, Maharajah of Gaikwada

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


VS1949 (1892) Rupee of Baroda State (wide flan) with bust of Siyaji Rao III

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Rupee (narrow flan) of Baroda dated VS1954 (1896) bearing portrait of Siyaji Rao

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


½ rupee of Baroda dated VS1948 (1891) bearing a portrait of Siyaji Rao

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


½ rupee of Baroda, dated VS1951 (1894) with bust of Siyaji Rao

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


4 anna of Baroda State dated VS1949 (1892) with bust of Siyaji Rao


2 anna of Baroda State dated VS1949 (1892) with bust of Siyaji Rao

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1/3 pattern mohur in silver

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Bharatpur: ¼ Rupee, Rupee, mohur. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Rare variety Nazarana Rupee (VS1914) of Bharatpur State bearing a portrait of Queen Victoria

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1858 Bharatpur State Rupee with a portrait of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Bikanir: ½ Pice, ¼ Anna, Rupee, ½ mohur, mohur. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Nazarana proof-like rupee of Bikanir State dated VS1994 (1937) with a portrait of Maharajah Ganga Singh


A proof re-strike ½ mohur commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ganga Singh’s reign

images Courtesy: Clark Smith


1892 rupee of Ganga Singh with a portrait of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1/4 anna of Bikanir with a portrait of Victoria dated 1895


½ Pice of Bikanir with the portrait of Empress Victoria dated 1894

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Bindraban: 1/4 , ½, 1 Rupee. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.
1/4 rupee of Bindraban State bearing a portrait of young Queen Victoria dated 1858

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Datia: ½ mohur. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

ND Datia Nazarana ½ mohur

images Courtesy: CNG


Dewas S.B.: 1/12 Anna, ¼ Anna, Paisa. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Paisa of Dewas Senior Branch (S.B.) showing a bust of Srimat Maharajah Vikram Singh Rao Pawar dated VS2000 (1944)

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


1/12 anna issued by Narayan Rao of Dewas S.B., dated 1888, with a bust of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


1888 ¼ anna issued by Narayan Rao of Dewas S.B. showing bust of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Dewas J.B.: 1/12 Anna, ¼ Anna. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

1888 1/12 anna issued by Narayan Rao of Dewas Junior Branch (J.B.) showing bust of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1888 ¼ anna issued by Narayan Rao of Dewas J.B. showing bust of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Dhar: 1/12 Anna, ¼ anna, ½ Pice. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

This is an early proof re-strike 1/12 anna of Dhar State dated 1887 bearing a portrait of Empress Victoria

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1/2 Pice of Dhar State bearing a portrait of Empress Victoria dated 1887

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


¼ anna of Dhar State with a portrait of Empress Victoria dated 1887

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


Faridkot: Rupee, ½ Rupee, 1/3 mohur, 5 Rupee. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Nazarana rupee of Faridkot State with portrait of Harindar Singh dated 1941

images Courtesy: CNG


Third Mohur of Faridkot dated 1941

images Courtesy: CNG


Nazarana Five Rupee coin of Faridkot dated 1941 maybe unique

images Courtesy: Baldwin’s


Gwalior: ¼ Anna, ½ Anna, 1/3 mohur. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Proof re-strike ½ anna of Gwalior State with a portrait of Jivaji Rao dated v-VS1999 (1942)

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


1/4 anna of Jivaji Rao dated 1929


¼ anna of Madho Rao of Gwalior State with continuous legend dated VS1974 (1917)


1/3 mohur of Madho Rao dated VS1959 (1902)

images Courtesy: CNG


Indore: ¼ Anna, ½ Anna, Rupee. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

1/2 anna of Indore State bearing a portrait of Yashwant Rao II dated VS1992 (1935)


1/4 anna of Indore State bearing a portrait of Yashwant Rao II dated VS1992 (1935)

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Rupee of Indore State portraying Shivaji Rao dated VS1956 (1899)

images Courtesy: Stephen Album


A rare variety of the rupee shown above


Indore State Rupee portraying Shivaji Rao dated VS1958 (1901)

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Jaipur: Anna. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Anna coin of Jaipur with a bust of Maharajadhiraj Sawai Mansingh


Sailana: ¼ Anna. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

1908 ¼ Anna bearing a portrait of Edward VII are very rare in such high grade

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


¼ anna of Sailana with a bust of George V dated 1912

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Travancore: ½ sovereign, sovereign, chuckram. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Below is an 1881 AV Sovereign of Travancore State portraying Sri Rama Varma. Off-metal Patterns of ½ and full sovereign also exist.

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Sri Rama Varma Chuckram with no date but minted between 1938 and 1940


Tripura: Rupee. Indicates that portrait coins for this ruler exist for the denominations listed next to the name of the State in bold.

Rupee of Tripura State issued by Vira Vikrama Kishore Manikya dated 1930

images Courtesy: Heritage Auctions


Post-Independence Coinage (1950- )

Independent India discontinued the practice of issuing coins carrying portraits of erstwhile rulers. Each State or principality ceased to exist to become part of India or Pakistan. However, on the death of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, coins bearing his bust were issued commemorating the event. In 1969 the mint issued coins bearing the bust of Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate his birth centenary. Then upon Indira Gandhi’s death in 1985, the mint issued coins bearing her bust.

Nehru’s birth centenary was celebrated on Indian coinage bearing his portrait followed soon by that of Rajiv Gandhi in 1992 upon his death. The mint began to issue portrait coins on a regular basis beginning in 1996 celebrating Indian statesmen, freedom fighters, social workers, historical figures, saints, and martyrs – a bountiful source of modern portrait coins. Admittedly, the higher denomination coins – 20, 50, 75, 100, 150 rupees – were not meant for circulation; they were included only in uncirculated mint and proof sets.

1964 Nehru Proof Rupee – the first portrait coin of Independent India



*This was originally written on April 12th 2012, one of my first postings, and unmodified with the exception of the pictures are a bit different. Thanks for reading my writing. Enjoy.




Two surviving business strikes are known to exist from the original mintage of this coin/treasury Gold, and perhaps an “Ex-Jewelry” example that was sold was an impaired “Restrike Proof” made to look like a business strike. Was this “Ex-Jewelry” coin an impaired Restrike Proof or an original business strike? That’s the million dollar question. But certainly two are known to exist from the original striking mint issue.

The “Lion” design on the “Reverse” of this Gold was initially rejected by the Governor-General in Council during the mid Fall season of 1835. Almost one month later the Governor-General approved the “Reverse Lion” design to continue the die preparation(s) so the “One Mohur”, and “Two Mohurs/Gold Coinage” would not be delayed any further. What we can deduce from a number of sources is that the Calcutta mint minted roughly 1,000-1,174 “Double Mohurs” coinage in 1835/6. This coin/treasury Gold was never intended for circulation, and was mainly exchanged for silver by Merchants.


1835 Two Mohurs Proof Restrike Reverse
1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Reverse

Trading rights to set up a port in Calcutta were granted to the East India Company (EIC) back in 1690 by Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzed Alamgir : one of SHAH JAHAN’S sons who imprisoned him, and forcefully took over the Mughal Empire’s Reign. This son is better known as “Aurangzeb”….which means “honoring the throne”. I beg to differ with that title bestowed upon him at a young age, and so would Shah Jahan from his grave. 145 years later The East India Company’s plan to establish a rate of exchange between silver and gold financially failed.

The EIC wanted to sort of be in the “Assay” business to probably play a game of “arbitrage” between the two precious metals. But, the EIC didn’t properly value/calculate the Gold/Silver ratio, and discounted that most Merchants preferred Silver for trade. Those Merchants were doing healthy business with the Chinese, and China is geographically located right around the corner from Calcutta. The Empire of China had massive silver reserves at the time, and gave it all back to the world’s biggest drug/opium cartel : The Ea$t India Company.

1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Obverse
1835 Double Mohur Restrike Obverse

Essentially the Calcutta mint ended up with a boatload of Gold within the treasuries, and exchanged large amounts of Silver to the Mercantile trade. This leads me to believe Merchants were trading in gold to the EIC, and receiving Silver at a discount unbeknownst to the East India Company. But that topic needs to be further researched, and I speculate that the Merchants arbitraged the East India Company with Gold.

In any case, these scenarios bring me 1000 fold pleasure when so called “small money” armed with knowledge outwits “BIG MONEY” carrying very little knowledge, and arsenals of arrogance. The “Merchants” were a 5′ 7″ 208 lb MAURICE JONES-DREW from the NFL (National Football League), and the “EIC” a 6’4″ 250 lb Linebacker in the same game. Meaning the Linebacker has no chance from the beginning against the smaller player.

Anyways, the result of this endeavor was: rapid financial loss for this particular pecuniary…Making money makes you lose money sometimes even if you are the one making the money. In 1836 the British Government bought all the Gold reserves from the EIC Mint so this untimely venture did not continue losing money. More than likely most of this mintage was melted with the rest of the treasury gold that was stockpiled for a few months.

1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Obverse
1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Obverse
1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Obverse

The Government continued the practice of “Restriking” this coin for many years because of growing collector demand, and sometimes offered the coin as a presentation piece. Minting of all East India and British India “Restrikes” ceased in 1970 at the Bombay Mint because of political pressures primarily by the Australian Government, and so the dies were destroyed in 1971/72. These 1835 TWO MOHURS coins are all “Restrikes”, and there are examples graded by NGC and PCGS as “PR” or “PF” designated as “Proof”. But this coin should never receive a grade of “Proof”, and only a “PL” or “Proof Like” grade should be assigned to any of these Two Mohurs. Also, there is no expert that can pinpoint any specific year this coin was struck as a “Proof” nor are there any concrete mint records that translate into an actual “Proof” which we can witness. The “Restriking” mintage is a mystery nobody will ever solve without concrete mint records.

These coins should all carry a grade of “PL” or “Prooflike” as mentioned before. There is another theory : the lesser the number of hairlines on the surface the earlier the striking comes to mind. There is one problem with this theory : what if there were multiple dies polished at different times? What an expert can guesstimate is when a particular coin may have been restruck : was it an “Early Restiking” or “Mid Restriking” or “Later Restriking” due to the characteristics of the coin. To date there has not been an 1835 Two Mohurs “Original Proof” or “Early Restrike” that has been recorded to my knowledge, and even if an “Original Proof” were to surface it’s probably a RESTRIKE!

1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Reverse


1835 Double Mohur Proof Restrike Reverse

1835 Two Mohurs Gold Proof Restrike

*This information was cited from a number of sources:

Fred Pridmore: The Coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Krause, Vikram Deshmukh, Myself, NGC, PCGS, COIN PRICES MARCH 2011, Wikipedia, and Google.

SIZE : 32.5 MM

LAST PRICE PAID FOR THIS COIN “RAW” OR “UNGRADED” ON FEBRUARY 18th 2012 : $28,000+ as listed below

LAST AUCTION THIS COIN CROSSED : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/article2910682.ece?homepage=true


Sanjay C. Gandhi





*I originally wrote this on September 23rd 2013 and its in its original form. Mistakes and all. If you haven’t had a chance read “THE BRITISH INDIA COIN MARKET AND CHINESE COIN DEMAND PARALLELS – PART ONE.” You may want to consider it. The same charades carried over in the scenario below by the same players. Funny. The game never changes. Only the players. Thank for reading my thoughts.




So why did the title above happen last year? How did a common gold coin that sold for maybe a little over bullion make a run? But that run was very brief, and puzzling to me somewhat. Why would a coin with a population at NGC of 500+ coins all of the sudden rise in value? The price had been frozen for years, and/or pegged to the bullion price of gold somewhat. Where is the demand coming from suddenly?

Prices for this coin last year (2012) were probably $345 a coin raw/ungraded or so on average. But if it went into an NGC/PCGS slab the price reached as high as $700+ in MS 64, and the low $600’s for MS 63. But that’s how a market functions, fluctuates, and I sold a sovereign somewhere in this run up. I still have a sovereign I didnt sell as well, and I also bought an MS 64 1918 sovereign two years ago for $500+ or so in 2011. These coins were being absorbed at $575 a crack raw in 2012! But how did this happen? Did the demand for these coins suddenly explode? Yeah. By maybe 4-5 people I suspect. So how could the price spike for a coin that had such massive availability, and really no numismatic value?

I recall speaking to a buyer sometime last year, he was ferociously purchasing these coins, and to each his own. I never sold him one of the 7+ gram value traps, rather I mentioned how there were “tons” of them graded at NGC, and it was a “Sovereign”. Again, I have no interest in buying these coins, and never encouraged anyone to buy these coins either. I kept hearing the term “i mints” being used, and it was synonymous with the 1918 Sovereign minted in Bombay.

Before the price started rising for this coin, the market for this coin was a thin market, and started rising rampantly for no reason. Gold was actually on the way down, and why would this coin suddenly rise in value, and after all it is a “bullion” coin? India had been on a very slow rise in numismatic terms since the Fall of 2010. By summer of 2012 the market was on red hot fire, and anyone could sell any British India fairly easily as they were being snapped up. Thin markets are the easiest markets to push around in extreme directions at all times. The British India Coin market was fairly thin to begin with which could be pushed around like a paper airplane at anytime, and is still susceptible. As is any thinly traded market.

How does this work again?

Sellers are always looking for new ways to make money, and so are buyers. One guy has to start the selling, and offer a coin. The cycle keeps continuing until other sellers take notice, more supply is offered, and the prices slowly creep back another lower standard deviation to the mean or new mean. Know what I mean? Generally speaking when these anomalies transpire they do not go unnoticed. But sellers are always more eager to fulfill demand when it is insatiable because it can disappear very quickly.

I think a few guys thought they could corner the market, and it just didn’t happen like they envisioned. Nor were they aware of the supply that was about to hit in the coming months, and the price of gold dropped which was unforeseeable as well. I must admit I was bullish on gold in the fall of 2012, but quickly changed my mind, and sold my biggest gold coin holding in terms of value. You never know with speculative markets folks, and unfortunately the rebound of gold didn’t last very long for those that were buying “i” mints. So did all this happen because of a hot market? Yep-

It is our nature as humans to always ask : Why? And the nature of a salesman is to ask : Why Not? Generally speaking all boats rise with the tide, but not all boats stay afloat. There is always debate amongst people that collect anything, and what is very interesting about the speculative bubble described above is that it had happen in the past within another coin market. More specifically with 1902 5 Ruble gold coins in say an MS67 grade, raw, and other grades as well.

In 2008 the Russian coin market had scaled heights only seen by….well…The Russian Coin Market. These 5 Ruble Gold cons were trading at 4-6 times what they were trading for three years ago, and the rise came from pure speculation I suspect. Did the rise/fall take place in a similar fashion? Probably. The average price of gold was $444 in 2005 and $871 in 2008 respectively. Do gold coins exponentially rise in these bull markets? Yes. But not bullion coins such as 5 Roubels, and 1918 India Sovereigns. Whatever happen to the price of the 1902 MS 67 5 Rouble you ask? The last one sold in April 2013 for $470, and the price of gold stood at $1,425 an ounce.

So why did common Russian bullion coins in 2008/2009 rise in value by 380%-600% from 2005 prices? The same reason 1918 “I” Mint Sovereigns went up in value. One guy told another guy, that guy told another, and another guy sold the other guy. The Russian bullion bubble went up on a greater scale than the 1918 “I” coins because there were more players, and more money being thrown around. The guys that were playing in the 1918 Sovereign run up should be thankful that coin only went up 70% from it’s mean value.

All of the above makes me wonder who was trying to corner the market, why they thought they could corner the market, and who convinced who to buy this “i” stuff. Was it Apple? Maybe someone with experience in one of the past run ups acted as a catalyst or an agent? Did someone say to someone else that, “The gold coins always rise in bull markets within numismatics, and I’ve seen this before. Trust Me! Now sign your name by the “X”, I’ll give you a box of Newports, and some PUMA sweats.”

Speculative salesman claim to know the future, and it’s still an educated guess on their behalf. Ask “Why”, and the salesman may counter with “Why Not”. “Why Not?, because you can only guarantee me one thing Mr. Salesman”. Salesman: “What’s that?” That I can certainly incur a loss by speculating. Mr. Salesman: “Yes, that is true.” But, it’s easy to be “Hindsight Harry” as I call one of my dear friends, and human behavior is quite interesting. As is the practice of speculation.

Speaking about Deja Vu how about this speculative choice somebody made below on September 20th 2013:


$836.50 if you can’t sign in to the above site-

What comes to mind?


WTF? Comes to mind-

Now look at this:


What changed in the past 26 days up until September 20th with this coin?

Consider listening to this song from Public Enemy:

The speculative Pied Piper is presented to us time, and time again. Do we follow him? Or do we lead ourselves to the pier or stay put?
Choices choices-



The 1970 One Rupee Coin : Circulation/Business Strike

I haven’t read much about the 1970 Rupee coin because there simply isn’t much to read. Krause lists the 1970 Rupee coin mintage as “included above” within the 1962 Rupee business strike mintage which is roughly 3.2 million. There is no official data that is publicly available for the 1970 Rupee coin to my knowledge. We do know that the mintage for the 1970 proof issue is between 2,900 and 3,100 sets which includes the Rupee coin. We also know that between 1971 and 1974 there was no Circulation/Business strike for a One Rupee coin.

All of the “so called” business Rupee strikes between 1971-1974 are after market fakes or fantasy issues. They were never minted for circulation. Ever! The 1962 Rupee was probably a frozen year for at least two years, and minted into the year 1964 in anticipation of the Commemorative Nehru Rupee. But keep in mind that the 1962 Rupee was “re-struck” as part of the 1967 strip pack set, the 1967 Proof Set, and the 1967 Uncirculated set. What is interesting is that the 1970 One Rupee coin makes three similar guest appearances in: Proof, Strip Pack, and a Business/Circulation strike as well. One of the reasons the 1970 Rupee may not be readily available in present day may have been because of the brief perceived worldwide Nickel shortage of 1969.



The price of Nickel remained somewhat consistent between the years of 1957-1966 per pound at a median price of .77 USD The first year the commodities market saw a median increase per pound in Nickel was 1967 to .88 USD, and then the following years are applicable in lieu of median price: 1968 .95 USD, 1969 1.05 USD, 1970 1.29 USD, 1971 1.33 USD per pound. There are three primary reasons for year over year increases in Nickel prices : growing global stainless steel demand, The Vietnam War, and of course speculation. On November 21st 1969 the price of Nickel stood at a record $7.70 per pound! This was a 500%+ increase in price from a year ago, and the worst Nickel shortage since World War II The United States fervently was scrapping metal for Nickel to fulfill domestic demand, and secured an ample supply sometime in 1970. Somebody at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI/Government) possibly elected not to buy additional Nickel supply in 1969 for the 1970 mintages, and maybe the RBI/Government bought very sparingly.

Some of you may be saying/thinking, “The 1968 25 Paise has a big mintage, look at the mintages for the 1969 50 Paise, 1969 Gandhi 50 Paise, and the 1969 Gandhi One Rupee which are all pure Nickel.” They are massive mintages in total as we know, and the metal was probably bought in advance at favorable prices. The government had to take delivery of the metal at port, ration the metal to the appropriate mints, smelt it, prepare the dies, produce blanks, and then get ready for production/distribution. Imagine the logistics involved, and I’m sure I missed many points. Father Time. He’s always against us, and what did we do to him? Nothing. We simply exist on his watch.

The amount of Nickel on hand at the RBI’s reserve in 1970 is unknown. But the RBI did have some Nickel on hand to mint 1970 Rupees, and 50 Paise Coins. The circulation strikes were minted in small quantities, and nobody has the answers but the RBI themselves of what was actually minted per se. The only pure Nickel circulation coin produced after 1970 was the 1971 (C) 50 Paise coin which had a mintage of 57,000,000 I suspect this was a “planned mintage” as I don’t see so many of those coins from my experience, but i’m uncertain about its present day availability. In addition, the 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974 Proof Rupees were the only other pure Nickel coins issued by The Bombay Mint.

The following 1970 coins were minted in pure Nickel: 1970 Rupee “B” business strike, 1970 Rupee “B” Proof, 1970 50 Paise “B” Proof, 1970 50 Paise “B” business strike, and the 1970 50 Paise “C” business strike.

Here are mintages from Krause

1970 Rupee (B) Circulation Strike : “included above with 1962 Rupee mintage” which essentially means unknown

1970 Rupee (B) Proof Striking : 3,046

1970 50 Paise (B) Circulation Strike : “included above with 1969 50 Paise mintage” which essentially means unknown

1970 50 Paise (B) Proof Striking : 3,046

1970 50 Paise (C) Circulation Strike : “included above with 1969 50 Paise mintage” which essentially means unknown

How many stories have we heard/viewed/watched from the past or present about coins being melted for whatever reasons over decades in India? The main reason for these behaviors were rising metal prices. “Lets melt all this stuff down, and make some ingots which we can resell for triple the price!” Sounds like a plan to me, but I would rather go to jail for stealing the “Mona Lisa.” At least I would have a good story to tell in prison, and I wouldn’t be any better of a criminal than the guy sitting next to me that got caught (s)melting coins. We both sucked at what we did hence our simultaneous incarceration. Where was I? Yes, yes, yes…coins….coins…Some of these 1970 coins have probably made their way to the smelter.

People always save(d) coins for novelty, and I’m sure some of these coins are sitting in a “cupboard” or “Kabart” as my cousins say. I can say from my experience that I don’t have many 1970 50 Paise UNC coins so I don’t have much clarity as to what is available, I am in the United States, and a collector in India may have a different experience. I speculate The Bombay Mint produced small quantities of the 1970 One Rupee coins in comparison to the surrounding mintages such as the 1962 or 1969 One Rupee coins.

1972 was the inaugural year when the RBI choose to use Copper-Nickel as the choice metal for the 25 and 50 Paise denominations which was 75% Copper and 25% Nickel for many years to come, and 1975 marks the reintroduction for the circulation/business strike Rupee coin as well with more to come. The RBI had enormous cost savings by using a fraction of the Nickel they were using previously for circulation coinage, and Nickel is a very durable metal. The metal is not as cheap as it was, the median price of Nickel from 1968 had risen by almost 50% on average to 1972, and the RBI probably bought Nickel in 1971 when the prices plummeted from the speculative bubble a few months/years back to normalized levels.


Most of the 1970 Rupee circulation strikes that I have handled are not struck very well from my experience, and on rare occasion I will find a fleur-de-coin. Nickel in general is a problem metal to strike because of it’s hardness. Any weak strikes are not tolerated in general by the metal itself, and we will see many 1962’s that are not the most stellar strikes riddled with planchette flaws in various places. I’ve seen many problem 1962’s, and those coins have been impossible for me to find in eye pleasing technical grades. The obverse is always struck weakly in the eyes, ears, face, nose, toes, whiskers, and high points in general.


The 1970 Rupee falls in the same category as the 1962’s minus all the plachette flaws. But it’s not the metal’s fault entirely for the poor strikes, and Indian Mint’s are/were notorious for recycling dies. Could a sparingly used obverse die from the 1962 Rupee be paired with a 1970 reverse die? It’s very likely or it could have been a recycled die, and a new die. Could a 1970 obverse proof die been used for a circulation strike? Possibly, but very unlikely, and if you find one it is a mule. Could the obverse die from the “strip pack” be recycled for the Proof die? Probably not, but anything is possible, and I have never seen one. The strip pack dies for 1970, and the circulation/business strike dies are both in fact the same design for the Rupee coin just as they are for 1962. This gets very confusing but this is what all of this means: The “Small Lions Obverse” die design for 1962 was used for 1970 without any changes until the 1970 Proof coins were struck which has a “Big Lions Obverse”. The “Big Lions Obverse” was used for the 1971 Proof Rupee issue as well, the mint very well could have recycled the 1970 obverse die for 1971 easily, and then the mint elected to go back to the “Small Lions” design for the entire 1972 Proof Rupee.

Here are the rough specifications for the “Small Lions Obverse” and the “Big Lions Obverse”:

Small Lions middle of the head to bottom of the pedestal base measurement: 23mm
Big Lions middle of the head to bottom of the pedestal base measurement: 24.5mm

Small Lions measurement taken from the nose tip of the left flanking Lion to the nose tip of the right flanking Lion: 14mm
Big Lions measurement taken from the nose tip of the left flanking Lion to the nose tip of the right flanking Lion: 15mm

Small Lions measurement taken from bead or bar flanking the Horse on the left to the bead or dot flanking the Bull on the right: 12mm

Big Lions measurement taken from bead or bar flanking the Horse on the left to the bead or dot flanking the Bull on the right: 13mm+


The overall differences between these obverses can be seen with the naked eye if you put them side by side, but with a quick glance it’s hardly noticeable. One distinct characteristic of the “Big Lions Obverse” is one of his engraved whiskers almost touches the bottom eyelid underneath his left eye. I first discovered these differences while looking at my 1973 Proof Rupees, and I thought I was seeing things late at night. But yes, there are two Proof Rupee varieties for the 1973 issue. How did it happen? One possibility is that The Bombay Mint used the “Small Lions Obverse” until it was exhausted, and went to the “Big Lions Obverse”. I speculate they may have ran out of the “Small Lions” dies, and used possibly the leftover “Big Lions” from the 1970/1971 dies, and probably made dies on demand when necessary. I have a Proof Rupee with a sizable die crack, and it should have never been sold in a set. These coins are the supposed cream of the crop, and flawless. It is what it is.

Is the Small Lions Obverse a muling for 1973? Tricky question. Is the Big Lions a muling for 1973? Another tricky question. The Bombay Mint used the Small Lions Obverse for the entire 1972 Proof Rupee issue, and the mint may have had every intention of using the Small Lions for the entire 1973 issue. But, the demand possibly exceeded the dies on hand, and they didn’t have enough time to make more dies. They were scrambling, and found a swift solution : Release the Big Lions Obverse from it’s cage. The Big Lions were again on the prowl sometime in 1973, and they walked the entire year of 1974 by themselves. Maybe the Small Lions and the Big Lions roamed together from the very beginning in 1973.

When did the Big Lions and Small Lions specifically roam out of The Bombay Mint in 1973 : indeterminate

The Bombay Mint issued two 1973 India Proof Set versions: a 9 coin set and 10 coin set. Both sets contain both versions of each of the coins, and it is difficult to determine which version is scarcer. Keep in mind that the 1973 India Proof set had the highest mintage out of all the 1970’s Proof sets produced for reasons unknown, and The 1974 Proof set only contains the “Big Lions Obverse” for all Proof Rupees minted that year to my knowledge. Most of the 1974 Rupee obverse strikes are a hodgepodge of quality. Some of the 1974 Rupees I have seen are really bad in the facial area, and little detail can be seen. No matter what scrutiny is mentioned within these writings we must be satisfied that these coins were minted, and give thanks to Paramount International Coin Corporation in Ohio that first brought us these coins.


Why did The Bombay Mint elect to mint Proof Rupees from 1970 to 1974 in lieu of steadily rising Nickel prices? They were making money, no pun intended, and Paramount International Coin Corporation was paying them something to buy these sets in 1970 which they were retailing at an issue price of $15 within the United States. Another reason may have been that the set may not be/look complete without the main coin: “The Rupee” The total run of Proof Rupees from 1970-1974 was about 29,000-31,000 coins, and each coin weighs 10 grams. In “ore” terms the total weight was roughly 300 Kilograms or 661 pounds which cost let’s say $1.45 Per Pound =ing $958.45 Compare this to what the RBI would have had to spend making pure Nickel circulation Rupees as they did back in 1969 which they struck about 11.8 Million.

The price of Nickel had risen sharply since the 1969 Rupee coins entered circulation, and the 1970 Rupee didn’t stand a chance of being minted in the millions or even hundreds of thousands. Sheer economics hindered a large scale 1970 Rupee coin mintage, and the 1970 One Rupee paper money option was much cheaper to produce than it’s metallic cousin.

The 1970 Rupee circulation coin doesn’t come up very often on eBay, but that is only one viewing venue, and I am mainly searching the USA site. What I do see are many 1970 One Rupee notes up for sale in comparison to the One Rupee coin. Possibly the RBI may have injected/printed more paper money to account for the deficiency of 1970 Rupee coinage because of the high Nickel prices. But that needs to be researched much deeper, and there was a similar scenario which occurred back in 1940 that I wrote about in my analysis of the 1939 Rupee.

Within the last calendar year of browsing eBay I have seen over 75 1938 One Rupee coins for sale graded/non graded in all grades. You know how many 1970 One Rupee coins I’ve seen in the last year in all grades? Less than 7, and all of those examples were UNC/BU+ within the United States only with the exception of one which was Au. The remaining examples I saw on eBay India were not as good quality as the USA examples. There were very few UNC examples, and most were Au or in lower grades. Now that’s not true about the examples I saw in the auction house catalogs from India.

These coins recently started showing up in Indian Auction houses because they now have more value than they did in the past. Maybe there is more demand, and more collectors are seeking this coin. The auction house examples were pretty much on par with the USA eBay examples in quality terms, and seeing coins in person is always advisable when you are potentially buying. How did these BU coins end up in the USA? That’s a bigger mystery than this story so far, and I have not a clue.


See how many 1970 Rupees you can find in the next year(s), and then compare it to the availability of the 1938 Rupee as well. They are two different coins with two different strikes, varying popularity, and limited supply. But I think it’s an interesting comparison for scarcity/availability purposes. What is scarce is not always on par with price or vice versa. With collector demand increasing for coins of India in general, the demand for this particular mystery date coin will build further, and only time will show us how difficult or easily the coin may be to obtain. I’ve had a difficult time finding this coin, your experience may vary, and best of luck hunting your metallic Lions. big or Small-


*Originally drafted October 20th 2013 12:20 AM, and I have not revised this copy as of the time stamp above. Thanks for reading my thoughts.





So lets talk about this “Pig” thing. Some dudes in 1911 who had nothing to do back in market/bazaar/shop/store caused all this “Pig” mayhem back in December 1911. because somebody really couldn’t see the trunk of the “Elephant” we have a few “Type” coins today in the George the 5th series. The 1911 coins are/were supposedly withdrawn, recalled, recoined, melted, non-distributed, and blah blah blah blah blah…

*I did not add the 1/4 Anna to this story, because I have inconclusive data


Is there really a “Pig” on this series of this Inaugural coinage? If one were to view the animal on George’s robe with an eyeglass or loupe, one would clearly see his trunk, and even see the elephant without the magnifier. Actually, I can see the trunk of the elephant mixed in with the chain links, and the elephants “trunk” is extremely pronounced. How about back in 1911? Did the average Joe/Johann/Joyti/Joginder use a magnifier to see the trunk of an elephant? No? Ok. Maybe one of the Jo’s had an eyeglass, but the person who spread this story surely did not I speculate.

But that’s what I get paid to do currently : Speculate- Am I getting paid to write all of the below, and the above: Hell No! But I enjoy it, and it makes me think. Anyways, so if the gals/guys eyes are bad they can see whatever the hell they want to see, and he/she could perceive whatever his/her dear heart desires. The “trunk” isn’t that big, throw in some bad light, and one could see almost anything you wanted on the One Rupee coin after the contagious spreading rumor.

George V Rupee Obverse

700,000 Rupees were distributed from December 12th 1911 to January 23rd 1912, and then the “famed” withdrawal/recall went into effect. Did the government actually go out, and seek this 1911 Rupee coin? Probably not. It’s all the matter of perception, and showing the people they (The Government) are making an effort to satiate the bull$hit that was going on at the time.

So if only part of the mintage was made for the Rupee, wouldn’t it make sense that the fractionals also were minted/released in a similar fashion? The fractionals (1/2 Rupee, 1/4 Rupee, and Two Annas) aesthetics are a completely different story, and I can picture seeing the “pig” on his robe. The trunk of the elephant actually blends right into the chain link area, throw in a not so stellar strike, bad eyesight, and viola: Oink Oink!


1911 1/2 Rupee Proof Rim

Let’s Look at the 1911 George the 5th proposed mintages below:

1/4 Rupee 2.2 miliion
1/2 Rupee 2.3 million
One Rupee 9.4 million
Two Annas 16.7 miliion

From my experience the following availability ranking does hold true from least scarce to most scarce:

Two Annas
1/4 Rupee or 1/2 Rupee?

The Rupee we can find all the time in this series if you look simply on ebay. Now the Two Annas coin is the second most available/common, and I my self bought two examples from ebay in a span of 4 months when they were available. The 1/4 Rupee I only saw one for sale, and I bought my example from ebay well over two years ago. I never saw another one listed. 1911 1/2 Rupee I have never seen on ebay. But, do some scans on some other buying venues, and you will find the availability pattern of the 1911 series as described above.


How scarce are the 1911 1/2 Rupees?

Half Rupees you either find them in gem grade or complete really bad circulated grades, and yes there are at least 5 business strike coins in MS64 + grades. The 1/4’s you ask? Lesser available in higher grades, and remember the Obverse die design was not so hot either. Big Pigs get saved, little piggies roam if they can, do much walking in commerce, and can show up looking very tired. Nobody can confirm what was distributed in lieu of the fractions, and it is a mystery which will remain for many years to come. But what is available today does hold some weight.

I am starting to believe that the 1/4 Rupee may be more difficult to track down than the 1/2 Rupee, and more specifically in a gem grade. Look at what’s graded out there in the 1/2’s, and think to yourself again what has been burned into our coin buying hearts. The 1/2 Rupee is always tougher to find than any other denomination. I personally think that 1/2 Rupees are always deemed “scarce” when appropriate which is always.

1911 1/2 Rupee India

For this 1911 series I will bet anyone in the world you/me/one has a better chance of getting a 1/2 rupee in MS 65 and above than finding a 1/4 Rupee in MS 65 of above. I know this or think I know this because of the availability of these coins, and what is out there in the market that I have encountered. But think about the following as well. The release of the 1911 Rupee was a disaster for the British Indian Government, and the fractionals were not struck in the same proportionate quantity. “But cranko, The Two Annas they struck many more than the Rupee.” Ahhhhhh…..yes……it was a proposed mintage, and the availability of the Rupee exceeds that of the Two Annas.

Can you/I find a 1911 Rupees on ebay? Yes. Can you find 1911 Two Annas on ebay? Not as many as the Rupee, and not so many nowadays. So that being said the 1911 1/4 and the 1911 1/2 you will never see on ebay, and if you do they will be really badly impaired. Anything is possible though, those denominations are the toughest to find in general, and think about the dilemma at the mint back in 1911/1912. The Two Annas is a denomination that is/was widely used during that time, and so was the Rupee. We know from what is available in present day that both these denominations were distributed more than the 1/4 Rupee and the 1/2 Rupee.

Sharply struck 1911

Also there were many more Big Pigs and Tiny Pig running around by comparison. The Half Pig and Quarter Pig were not as free as the other pigs. They may have had the opportunity to exist, but didn’t get to run around as much as the other swine. Did the mint let them out of the bags? Yeah. Some of them got out but the total recall was established on January 23rd, I don’t believe the 1/2 Piggies, and 1/4 Piggies got fully minted/distributed. Just as many people kept the Big Piggies for novelty, and the same holds true for the pristine examples we see today for the 1911 1/2’s we see at least I believe.

There is a problem with above data though. The business/circulation fractionals were not distributed in the same numbers as the Full Rupee. Do I know this first hand? Yes, I got in my time machine, and went to the Calcutta Mint December 11th 1911 at exactly 4:20 pm. An auspicious time for pot smokers all over the world, and first hand I saw what was minted. Marty McFly was with me on this trip, and after all it is his time machine. Technically it’s the Doc’s time machine.



*Originally drafted on August 27th 2014 4:21 PM. Thanks for reading my thoughts if you do, and this includes mistakes and all.





So where did I leave off. Oh yeah-

P A R T 2

My descriptions on eBay never forced anyone to buy anything. Ever. How could I? My auctions were almost all generally no reserve, started at a penny, and the market controls the price. How did I control the price? By selling British India Coins for a little over two sequential years? By blocking people that were artificially boosting prices I suspected, and not allowing them to bid? My eBay “me” page clearly described “illiquid markets”, and when my risk decisions go bad I have the luxury of blaming one guy : me-

In spite of all the above information, risks of trading, and characteristics of risk that can be read almost anywhere on the internet. I was recently told by one collector on one occasion (and another time as well) that I was responsible for the downturn in the British India Coin market acorrding to someone he spoke with. Who : lost money. Tomorrow I will be crashing Nasdaq, and the S&P so please buy puts. Short the market! I’ve never heard more ridiculous talk about anything, and I think the crap is funny.

This guy blamed me for losing quite a tidy sum of money. But then again I had warned someone else about listening to someone in their teens for speculative advice. Because I wasn’t that specific teen myself but was a young man in his late 20’s giving speculative advice, and it ended in absolute disaster. Maybe another guy, and his cohort also blamed me as well. Which I think is very amusing. Blame me for all of your problems as well.

These buyers never thought ahead that since there was swooning interest, rising prices, that more coins wouldn’t come into the marketplace, and the David Fore Collections would siphon massive amounts of money from everyone’s pocketbooks. Not only did I describe this scenario in Part One above, but had given my thoughts about prices. I always mentioned these remarks in subtle ways. Because it is my responsibility to know what I project, and others should make their own projections.

Now remember the guy I described above in Part One that I suspected manipulated the Chinese coin market? Wonder if he had a hand in this market? Wonder if he employed the same strategies to create a mini massive boom, and bust cycle within the British India Coin market. There was a buyer that I had blocked in addition to his 7+ cronies he used to employ these strategies above? Whenever I mentioned this to anybody there was only one guy that ever believed me.

The rest just thought I was crackers, crazy, but some of those guys sided with his logic, and they paid dearly. Because he was “educated”, I was not, and boy that guy sure did give them an education. Maybe some of those folks can pray to the heavens, the man upstairs, whoever that may be for anyone, that the prices will come back to what they paid or greater, and they can sell.

Coin Show Bins
Coin Show Bins

I guess what many didn’t realize at the time is that if I did let this person propel the market higher. The downturn would have been much worse than now or the losses would have been much greater, and sure I would have had greater profits. Has anybody seen the Chinese coin prices lately for common coins? OH MY MAN UPSTAIRS…..On top of that it wasn’t fair to my consumer base. I could give a damn less about who else ran their business their way, but I would not allow manipulation in my eBay auctions. I did everything in my power to keep prices at bay without his greedy hand going into the cookie jar.

Sooner or later “manipulato” got people to join him in his quest to boost prices, and essentially derailed my vision of fair competition. It was easy for him to recruit people. He only needed one person that didn’t like me, for the record I don’t give a damn who likes me, and then it would snowball into two separate camps. I always remember a line from a song, “If you were to govern or rule a certain industry. Right now this whole room would be in misery.”

Pridmore Ticket
1893 India Half Rupee Pridmore Pedigree

I never ruled or governed anything, but I planned much better than my competition. Which was nonexistent at the time because there was no market at all almost on ebay. I took the risk, and it worked out. But it could have blown up in my face dearly, and I would have suffered heavy losses. Think anyone would have tried to friend me then or ask me for advice? Hell no-

sooner or later I was at a point where I gave no information to anybody. Not that I was privy to information before anybody, but they were my thoughts, from my experiences, data points, research, and I work for no one. Be that my trading ideas were right or wrong didn’t matter me, and I presented data available to everybody as well in the past for risk buying decision. Luck does have to prevail as well quite often, and speculation is ever changing. I did freely share information in the the first year of trading coins. But that came back to haunt me in the future.

Note to self : there are no friends in competition for money, and competing for the best of anything in life. Second place means you lose. But that’s how life works, and I know I paid dearly many times financially. It’s tuition guys, for a lifelong education that never stops, and now I trust nobody. Nor do I communicate with anybody on a frequent basis as I once did.

My last eBay sale was 2013 or September. Matter of fact is was September, and a regular client tried to scam me. Because I blocked him, and he was colluding with others to manipulate prices. Probably with the same guy that I suspected colluding a year earlier. He won an auction under a newly created eBay username, and paid immediately. What the moron failed to do is put a street address into the eBay side of the user name. This went on for a few days, of course eBay sided with me, and case closed after some correspondence.

Someone with all the time on their hands, and no brains formulated this brilliant scheme. Which backfired, and I laughed so hard when he forgot to put the street address into his genius plan. He must have been practicing theses strategies from Homer Simpson “DOH” for many years as the negative feedback was removed, and good riddance of two headaches at once.

What was even crazier is the guy that was using another guy to do his dirty work was a regular buyer from me. I stopped selling to him because I suspected he was communicating with someone that I thought was trying to milk information from me indirectly, and more specifically the guy who had been trying to manipulate the market. Call me paranoid. Many did. But I was right. It took some time for my thoughts to transpire, but he eventually choose poorly as his puppeteers. He was their “chumcho” or danced as they said. But this is a young guy trying to make some cash, and money is blinding. Especially if you need some-

That last sale was the last straw for me, and I decided to close up shop on ebay. I sold British India and Republic coins for almost 24-27 months. It was time for me to go as I didn’t need these headaches anymore. I needed a break from one person telling me “to die” over and over,people getting pissed because I would not share my supply with them, reveal sources, multiple people accusing me of fixing prices, the drama, the drama between two cousins, and it all got old. I thought : really? Is this what this is about? I had every intention of returning to ebay, but sided against it, and soon it will be almost exactly one year. I don’t have time to babysit.

The final coin I sold for $200+ I donated the money to a charity via eBay. Here is the description I had written :

“Dear Malala,

I can’t end an auction on November 10th 2013 because i’ll be in India, and can end an auction on September 8th in your spirit. It’s a month or so before your one year anniversary homegirl that the United Nations declared November 10th as “Malala Day”. I’m leaving my home on September 12th to travel near London, and that was the place of your recovery that took place last year. I’m requesting the person who wins this auction to please pay immediately as I’m not going to be here to ship the item after the 11th of September. “0” bidders are NOT welcome, and those that are blocked are not welcome either. Respect my terms. Please visit this auction more than once you “Toning Freaks” and “Nons” to show your support to Malala as the “hit counter” at the bottom of the page will increase every time you or anybody you tell revisits this auction. This auction I encourage bidders to bid it to the moon!

So anyways, I hope your recovery has been well, and It’s almost time for “Malala Day” again. We should have had this day probably from the beginning of time. But it’s easy to be one of my friends Hindsight Harry or Hindsight Henry. Both of these names are in my phone of my friends that always say “could have should have would have”, and I do the same thing at times. It’s really f&$kin sad that your life had almost been taken away from your family, and all of us throughout the world who never knew you. Even though I didn’t know anything about you,  I heard there was an attempt on your life, I teared up, two different times, and read more about you. I read about how your father was a great influence in shaping your values, and how you wanted to be a Dr.

It pissed me off so much what those people did to you that I wanted to do the same thing to them as they had done to you in my mind, and that wouldn’t be right. Nor am I like them at all. If I was I would be like them “Latifah” HomeGirl which in Arabic means “delicate” and “very kind”. I can’t believe how selfish people can/could be when they can’t have their way. But you, a brave young soul/girl that is a fraction of their age combated unfairness with her unselfish convictions, and did it with wisdom. Non Violent Educational Awareness. You know there were a couple of other sages that professed the same principles as you Malala. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind. “Mahatma” which means “great soul” is a title which he bestowed on you as well. How do I know this? I was sitting with him while he was spinning cotton on his Charkha at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in my imagination, he told me to tell you that his soul shines on you, and he still lives through you in the conscience world.

I CAN believe how you stood up to inequality as wisdom sometimes isn’t measured in age. Yet should be measured by “The Content of His/Her Character” like Dr. King once said before he was assassinated. You stood up to those bullies who are bullies for no reason, and here cometh the long overdue change for ya’ll. Don’t worry about them, and I know you don’t/never did. They are a bunch of “haters” that drink “HATERADE” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I hope you become whatever your educational heart desires, what a great stance you have taken for the women of your country, and humanity in general. Maybe the government of Syria could learn to be strong and not oppress the weak like Hammurabi stated in his code. You touched my soul homegirl. I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is homegirl. I’m gonna donate 100% of the proceeds of this coin/auction to EQUALITY NOW in New York. I can’t get the funds to you directly, but in spirit i’ll get the money to a place that believes in the following:

“Equality Now works to end violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world through the mobilization of public pressure. Issues of concern to Equality Now include: rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, trafficking, female genital mutilation, political participation and gender discrimination.”

Malala. Keep spreading that positiveness with the one thing as you have from the beginning: awareness/education

Someday Malala I’m gonna do something as brave/great as you, i’m gonna strive to do it, and thanks for inspiring me. I’ll never forget you, and neither will this world. Good thing you didn’t end up a martyr like Martin, like Mohandas, the world needs more Malalas here today, and going forward. You be that Dr. you wanna be homegirl, and Dr. King is smiling at you as well Malala. My imagination played chess with him yesterday, he checkmated me in 23 moves, and he told me that he is proud of you Malala. Thanks for inspiring all of us, I’m starting to tear up again, and I gotta go.



1938 Rupee Reverse

What I could never grasp was how a single 1938 MS 65 Rupee sold for $3000 at Steven Album’s auction. At that point I suspected the market had peaked. But then again that’s how a market functions, fluctuates, and there were literally two guys pumping the hell out of that date. Could it be the puppet, and his master? “Anything is possible.” His favorite saying I mean someone’s saying. Anyways. In addition to : 1911, 1921, and 1922 in not such high grades. They were common in certain grades, but not so common in gem grades at the time.

To show what a good sport I was I unblocked two guys that had tried to manipulate the market in the first place. Why? Because the market couldn’t climb any further, and I knew the price action made no sense to them. But they bought very lightly, and sold common coins when they could for big money by really screwing anyone they could. The “chumcho” was buying 1918 India Gold Sovereigns from one guy, and had to have taken a bath if he held the for a long period. His money supply as a trader was waning, it does take large bankroll to trade coins most of the time, and the market was slowly declining.

With people losing interest, and prices slumping. We were about to enter the third part of the David Fore sale. Everybody was waiting for business strikes, and needless to say the line up was quite disappointing. Most of my purchases were made in the first sale as I thought Original PROOF coins offered great potential for the future. Patterns I stayed away from because they have a very limited market, that’s what my data said, and they have lost some value as well but you never know with thin markets. Restrikes have gotten absolutely buried, and one collector told me there were thousands of them back in 2012. He was right as I sold most my restrikes in the fall of 2012.

Once the Fore auctions were over it seemed that the prices were ready to stabilize. But too much supply had entered the marketplace, and there would be a slew of coins on eBay from one seller which probably spooked many buyers from absorbing more coins. Many may have said to themselves : Why are there 2 William RS 1/2 Rupee’s for sale in two weeks? It really was crazy what was available in a two week period, but that’s how a collectables market functions. The supply is as random as the price swings. Nobody really knows what will show up at any given time, and what will happen.

1947 Lahore Rupee and other denominations

Nowadays I still buy and sell coins. Indian coins are not as active as they once were for a number of reasons. The BSE or Indian Stock Market has been rising from many years of depressed levels, and new political hope. Hence many speculators lost interest or dumped coin holdings. It’s absolutely evident in the Republic India Proof set market where prices took a major hit. Next came a slow erosion of Victoria and George 5th Rupees. George 5th may have taken the worst beating, and sure someone could do an analysis. But then again that’s how a market functions, and what goes up must come down.

As a speculator there are less opportunities or value in British India as I see it today than before. It’s less liquid for certain, unless something is really rare. I still find value from time to time but have added very little in comparison to my holdings as compared in the past. On a side note, Randy Weir did sell his 1911 India Proof set. I saw it in his case at the beginning of the Chicago ANA, and mid way through. It was gone, and it was sold-

Happy whatever you do with coins-



written by Sanjay C. Gandhi


originally drafted 04/28/2012

last Revision 08/14/2016

*This information was cited from a number of sources:

Vikram Deshmukh, Major Fred Pridmore: The Coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Dick H. Leavens (Rupee Circulation in India, The American Economic Review, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Mar., 1941) pages 87-90), Stephen A. Corvin, Yashoda Singh, Krause Publications, NGC, PCGS, silver-investor.com, Wikipedia, and Google.

08/14/2016 3:47 PM EST*

I had written this a little over four years ago from the date/time stamp above. Since then technology has changed, now I can make this post more picture friendly, and display it in a way that is a bit easier to read as well. Some corrections to the post have been made, I added some thoughts here and there as well. Most of what was originally written when this was posted remains intact and I will continue to update the posting as well. I also no longer have a financial position within this coin either, thanks for reading my coin conjecture, enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments.


.I N D I A.

There are many stories surrounding the 1939 India One Rupee coin, and nobody knows what to believe including myself. Some stories have been made up with a mixture of slight truths, and half-truths. I have gathered facts, fallacies, supporting data, and my own arguments to provide a clearer picture of what probably is closer to the truth for this dated coin. I believed many of these “facts/stories” at some point in time because it’s all I could find. But slowly these so called “facts” didn’t make sense to me.

Nobody (including myself) took the time to do a comprehensive work for this specific date, and the same false/innocent ignorant stories have been circulating for many years. Maybe some have known these facts, but never shared their thoughts with anyone but a few. Maybe free range chickens prefer a 401k plan, dental plan, full hour lunch break, and a health benefit plan before they become a Burrito at Chipotle Mexican Grill. Who knows? A majority of the following data has been available since 1975 which Pridmore scattered like a puzzle in his works for an individual to draw his/her own conclusions.

Here are some fallacies I want to dispel immediately, but read on to get a clearer picture-

1938 India Rupee Reverse

Fallacy: The 1938 One Rupee dated coins were minted in 1938-

Argument: How is this possible if the finished Type II (Large Head or Low Relief) Obverse dies were not delivered to India from Great Britain until late 1939?

Fact: The 1938 One Rupee dated coins were struck in 1940, and a small quantity of them may have been struck at the end of 1939.

Fallacy: The 1939 One Rupee dated coins were minted in 1939 throughout the entire year-

Argument: How is this possible if the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were the first to be struck in late 1939 or starting January 1940?

Fact: The Rupee coin was approved for standard circulation beginning January 1940 by the British Government. The 1938 One Rupee dated coins were the first to be struck in 1940, and the 1939 One Rupee dated coins were struck thereafter.

Fallacy: India’s silver shortage of 1939 (September prices spiked by 15%) was the cause of the recall or withdrawal of the 1939 One Rupee dated coin(s).

Argument: How is this possible if the 1939 One Rupee dated coins were minted in 1940 or after the 1938 One Rupee dated coins, and again the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were minted before the 1939 One Rupee dated coins in 1940 sometime?

Fallacy: There were 2.2 – 2.5 million 1939 One Rupee dated coins struck for circulation-

Argument: If the above is true then where are all the coins today? Hoarded?

Fact: The mintage was a “planned” or “proposed” mintage by the Bombay Mint which was common practice for many years.

Fallacy: The British government went to people’s homes to collect the 1939 One Rupee dated coins in ~1939~

Argument: Again. How is this possible if these coins were minted sometime in 1940?

Fact: 1938 One Rupee dated coins were not “officially” released for standard circulation until January 1940.

Second Head used for the India 1939 Rupee

The British Government stopped minting the 1922 One Rupee dated coin in 1923 according to the mint records, and never authorized another One Rupee coin for circulation until 16-17 years later as an order issued by the British Government. Meaning that the British Government had not resumed production until January 1940 or late 1939 when the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were minted/released. The only reason new coinage resumed in 1939 was because of the increase in commerce in India from World War II.

The majority of the 1938 One Rupee dated issue was minted in the year 1940, and “a small quantity 1938 dated coins were minted in the end of 1939” as noted by Major Fred Pridmore. It was not possible to strike the 1938 One Rupee dated coin with the Type II obverse any sooner than late 1939 at the earliest date. I believe the 1938 One Rupee dated coin mintage was issued in its entirety, but not true for the 1939 One Rupee dated coins. Consider some of the following data which may be above as well:

*Type I = First Head or High Relief obverse*

TYPE I First Head

Type I obverse dies were only used for Specimen/Proof/Restrike/Presentation issues for the 1938/1939 One Rupee dated coin(s), and these dies were never used for the circulation Rupee strikes. These dies were sent to India in July 1939 by mistake, and had poor striking capabilities.

*Type II = Second Head or Low Relief obverse*

TYPE II Second Head

Only Type II Obverse dies were used for the 1938/1939 One Rupee dated circulation coin(s), work commenced for the new dies in August 1939, and The Type II obverse dies were not delivered to India until late 1939 from England because they had to be reworked. Possibly some of the 1938 One Rupee mintage was struck after these dies were delivered late in 1939 to be released January 1940.

Earlier I mentioned “planned” or “proposed” mintages. Let’s look at the following mintages:

1906 Bombay One Anna 200,000
1938 Calcutta 1/2 Pice 11,161,000
1911 Bombay One Rupee 4,300,000
1911 Calcutta One Rupee 5,143,000

The 1906 One Anna and 1938 1/2 Pice were never minted for circulation, and may be found in proof/restrike/pattern issues only. Meaning the mintage was “planned” or “proposed”. Why wasn’t the 1938 1/2 Pice or 1906 One Anna struck for circulation? Answer: Maybe we should ask the chickens on the free range? We do know that everyone that was alive in 1911 that had first-hand knowledge about the 1911 One Rupee dated coin is dead. Anyways, it’s purported that 700,000 pieces were released; the remaining coins sitting in treasuries were melted, and withdrawn.

The Bombay Mint and Calcutta Mint started producing the 1911 One Rupee dated coins in July, and the coins were delivered to both Calcutta and Bombay banks in the meantime for distribution before December 12th 1911 for “official” public release. My point is that in a period of 5 months the mints minted at least 700,000 pieces, the rate minted per month we don’t know, and this was work by two mints working in conjunction with one and other.

Both mints started production 5 months ahead of the official public circulation/release. Now this implies that 1911 One Rupee dated coins were going to be minted well into 1912, and the mintages were known well in advance. Hence the above mintages would be “planned” or “proposed” for both 1911 B and 1911 C coin equalling roughly 9.4 million. January 23rd 1912 the 1911 One Rupee dated coins were officially withdrawn from circulation as ordered by the British Government because of a merchant mutiny against the newly minted coins, and those rumors were spread by the merchants themselves.

However, that’s another story for another time, and 1911 One Rupee dated coins are somewhat readily available in present day. People probably did save these coins as souvenirs because this was the first year of a new design, supposedly controversial, and they may of started hoarding what was being withdrawn. It’s easier to want something more when someone wants to take it away from you. “Proposed” or “planned” mintages were common practice in the past, and for many years to come. Could this have changed in any year? Absolutely!

The British government had not minted a circulation One Rupee coin for almost 17 years, and the 1938 One Rupee dated coin was the first of many in the series. I believe the entire mintage was minted for the 1938 One Rupee dated coin, and the Bombay Mint transitioned into the 1939 One Rupee dated coin briefly. This 1938 One Rupee dated coin was also a “first year type issue”, and there was probably some novelty associated with keeping one or two coins as a memento.

Many of these coins landed into the hands of hoarders, jewelers/bazaars, Choksi(s) (assayer of gold and silver), neighboring countries, use your imagination please I’m using mine, and some of them never made it back to the Reserve Bank of India. A majority of the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were probably melted/withdrawn from circulation before the official news announcement was made at the end of 1940 reducing the fineness for the One Rupee silver coinage to .500

1938 India Rupee Reverse close up

Remember what the people in 1911 did? : They hoarded the Rupee coin, and they probably did the same thing with the 1938 One Rupee dated coin. Which does sort of explain why so many of them are available today, and even the window of opportunity to hoard the 1938 One Rupee dated coin was much greater than the 1911 One Rupee dated coins. The Reserve Bank of India planned to go “off” the .917 silver fineness standard, and shifted to a “Quaternary Alloy” (.500 silver fineness) with the 1940 1/4 Rupee dated coin as its first step.

British India Quaternary Alloy Composition:

50% Silver, 40% Copper, 5% Nickel, and 5% Zinc

Here are the “official” or “planned” silver fineness reduction dates :

March 11th 1940 1/4 Rupee fineness reduction
July 24th 1940 1/2 Rupee fineness reduction
December 20th 1940 One Rupee fineness reduction

Citizens of India preferred a hard asset as opposed to paper money hence the hoarding of silver for many years. People had little faith in “paper”, and it was just paper in the minds of the standard citizen. The average Desi wanted tangible silver in hand, and the government acted in late June of 1940 to combat hoarding as written by Dickson H. Leavens: “A rule was made by the British Government under the Defense of India act making it an offense for any person to acquire coins in excess of his personal or business requirements and providing that in cases of doubt the judgment of the Reserve Bank or it’s duly appointed agents as to what constitutes the reasonable requirements of one individual should be conclusive.”

Soon followed an ordinance passed in July 1940 to “issue and put into circulation 1-rupee notes. The law provided that these should be treated by the Reserve Bank in its account exactly as if they were One Rupee coins. Between the dates of March 31st 1940 (close of the financial year) and July 26th 1940 the Reserve bank’s statement showed an increase of 90,000,000 Rupee coin. But more than likely these were One Rupee notes dated 1940” as Dick H. Leavens noted in his work titled “Rupee Circulation in India.” Also these 1940 One Rupee paper currency notes were probably injected into circulation well before the “official” ordinance was passed in July as listed above. I don’t believe the actual 1940 One Rupee coinage mintage is accurately reflected in Krause because of the currency issue is part of the mintage which skews the data.

1940 India One Rupee Currency


At some point in time during the month of July 1940 the entire 1938 One Rupee dated coin mintage was completed, and the Bombay mint started striking the 1939 One Rupee coins. This was a very short lived striking in July that was abruptly halted possibly by the order sent by the Royal Mint to reduce the fineness for the Half Rupee on July 24th 1940, and the injection of One Rupee paper currency notes dated 1940 to fight the practice of hoarding.

Keep in mind there was the official rule issued at the end of June 1940 by the British Government for all three denominations. In the past during World War I : Indians never forgot what happen in 1918 when there was a threat of a massive silver shortage, and the United States sold/shipped India (the British Government) 200,000,000+ ounces of silver at approximately $1/per oz. mandated by federal law known as : The Pittman Act

The United States sold this silver to India because its citizens were trading in paper currency to The Reserve Bank of India for hard assets (specifically silver). The silver on hand was not enough to quell the demand, The Reverse Bank of India would have run out of silver in a few months’ time because of demand, and I believe this demand was primarily driven by fear = World War I.

Nowadays USA collectors that cannot fulfill holes within their Silver Dollar collections can blame previous citizens of India or the British Indian Government for the 270,000,000+ Silver Dollars that disappeared from circulation via the Pittman Act. Be thankful it was only 270,000,000, and not the ceiling of 350,000,000 set by Senator Key Pittman of Nevada.

The collectors of USA coinage were affected by the practice of hoarding and so were the collectors of Indian currency. One denomination that is highly sought after by collectors of Indian currency is the denomination 2 Rupees and 8 Annas. The banknote was only issued for two years : 1917 and 1918

I don’t know if currency was issued in fiscal years as coinage, but many of these notes were probably exchanged for physical silver by panicked citizens that had inflationary fears from World War I. Redeeming two of these banknotes would yield someone 5 physical silver Rupee coins. If the scenario did happen as illustrated it may be one of the reasons that makes this banknote not so easy to find nowadays. Widespread panic to hoard silver.


Damn Brits, and Damn Hindustani Hoarding Indians. What? I try to be politically correct. Sometimes. Statement(s) not intended to hurt anybody’s feelings, and I want that to be clear. I don’t play that $hit-

The Bombay Mint had probably minted a very small quantity of 1939 One Rupee dated coins that were more than likely mixed in with the 1938 One Rupee dated coins entering circulation. I believe that the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were finished being minted sometime in July of 1940, the mint started srtiking the 1939 One Rupee dated coins, the paper currency injection came to fruition, the “official” order came to reduce the fineness for the Half Rupee to .500 silver, and the One Rupee coin was to be officially reduced to .500 silver as we know today.

Man Alive there is a lot of stuff going in July 1940 at the Bombay Mint! At the same time I think the decision came to stop the .917 fineness for the One Rupee 1939 dated coins abruptly well before the official date of December 20th 1940, and the Bombay Mint suspended minting the 1939 One Rupee dated coins altogether.

1939 India Rupee Frosty Reverse

We are at a crucial transitory period going from .917 silver fineness to .500 silver fineness. We know that one 1939 Security Edge One Rupee dated coin survived from the supposed specimen mintage of 5 coins as noted by Pridmore, and these were “trial” pieces struck by the Bombay Mint in the “new” Quaternary Alloy. The Bombay Mint may have been tinkering with the idea of producing the 1939 One Rupee dated coin for standard circulation with a security edge, and then abandoned the idea. If the planned mintage was 150,000,000+ for the 1940 One Rupee dated coin then the Bombay Mint had to get off its laurels to mint it’s proposed mintage.

The Bombay Mint was seven months into the year 1940, and making One Rupee coins dated 1939 in the new alloy with the security edge would further delay the arduous task of producing the planned mintage of 150,000,000+ 1940 One Rupee dated coins. Part of the mintage includes One Rupee notes as well, and they would still have had many coins to strike even with the paper currency injection. Maybe this is why they never struck the 1939 One Rupee Security Edge Rupee coin for circulation, and only prototypes were struck.

By the way the 1940 One Rupee dated coin was the most massive planned mintages for a One Rupee coin since 1920. The Bombay mint liked to work with planned mintages as referenced above, and in order for the mint to produce 150,000,000+ One Rupee coins dated 1940 would arguably take some time to say the least to produce, and this mintage includes paper money that was printed as noted. They would have a good 12-13 months for production, and some of these coins needed to be ready before the official order was released on December 20th 1940 for fineness reduction.

Whatever 1938 and 1939 One Rupee dated coins had been minted were probably withdrawn from circulation over time up until the withdrawal order dated December 20th 1940, and thereafter as well. But we know now in hindsight that The British Indian Government could melt down 1,000 .917 silver fineness Rupee coins, produce 1,834 .500 silver fineness Rupee coins, and maintain the same value. Wait? How does that work, and how is it worth the same value? Maybe we should ask the same questions to the Federal Reserve within the United States or most of the World Central Banks for that matter.

1939 India Rupee Obverse

I speculate the 1939 One Rupee dated coin was struck for one or two days at most. I can never prove unless I have concrete mint records or I use Marty McFly’s DeLorean from the movie Back to the Future to go back in time. But, if more 1939’s were struck then I ask : Where are they? Are they hoarded? Still? How can you hoard something that can’t be hoarded? They did circulate, and circulated for many years until slowly the coins migrated to the Reserve Bank of India’s treasuries where they were withdrawn from circulation with all the other .917 silver fineness coins.

It was easy to identify what was .917, and what was not. Most examples we see of the 1939 One Rupee coin are the “Reeded Edge” coin which is generally found in XF/AU (American standard grading) or poorer quality. Anything with a Reeded Edge was .917, and anything with a Security Edge was .500 There was a 1939 Security Edge One Rupee dated coin that surfaced in VF condition, and it had survived years of wear before somebody pulled it from circulation many years ago.

The sole reason the coin may have survived many years of the .917 silver melts may have been because of the “Security Edge” itself. Those coins that had the security edge were easier to identify to keep them circulating through the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary system, and whatever didn’t have a Security Edge was melted/recoined.

I have seen a few examples myself of the 1939 One Rupee dated coins, most of the coins from my experience were XF, AU/Almost Uncirculated (including cleaned examples), and UNC condition. I always wondered why the reverse was noticeably shinier than the obverse on some examples or why the reverse exhibited a semi proof like finish.

1939 Rupee Reverse slight Proof Like finish likely from an early striking

Why didn’t the obverse compliment the reverse? This does not mean that all 1939 dated coins will exhibit these qualities in AU grades, and I have seen business strikes as well without the shiny reverse. But, i’ve seen a few examples in hand that have noticeably tight polished lines or “die lines” on the reverse, they were very fine and fairly vertically uniform, and not so raised. Is this a characteristic of a newly prepared die? I believe so, and this coin has a semi reflective proof like surface as evidenced by the reverse.

My belief and 100% concrete evidence will vary very greatly. I have no proof except the coin in hand, and a few others that I have seen with my own eyes. But, if we do see these characteristics on AU or better 1939 One Rupee dated coins it could point to a very limited striking. Maybe even less than I propose below.


 The 1939 reverse die was poorly engraved or poorly prepared to provide full strikes suggesting a number of possibilities, but the die(s) still had to be polished/prepared producing a better proof like surface on the reverse than the obverse during the first few hundred strikes. Some of the cleaned examples will show these qualities because the reverse die may have been prepared with more care than the obverse die, and the obverse die may have been the exact same die from the 1938 One Rupee dated coins.

There is less “smoothness” on the reverse with the high points closer together, almost proportionate height, and tighter detail. These characteristics would somewhat shield the smooth surfaces from taking “one on the chin”. But keep in mind that the smooth obverse fields on these coins are always prone to contact marks, scratches, and nicks.

1938 India Rupee Obverse

The reverse could sustain much more wear because of the intricacy of the design and the high points were curved/rounded. The obverse was frozen for four dated years : 1938, 1939, 1940, and 1941. Many collectors will recognize for the previous dates that the obverse for this One Rupee coin series is always struck with more detail than the reverse with the exception of 1941 being a reworked reverse.

The reverse is an interested subject for this coin/series as well. From my observations I’ve noticed a tiny raised diamond test mark on the reverse of the 1939 One Rupee located between the “N” and “D” within the word “I N D I A.”  The Bombay Mint used marks that were incused into the die to test the hardness of the die from 1936, and onward(s) sporadically. They also used them on some restrikes in different positions, and places.

I found the diamond mark on the 1939 dated One Rupee coins in three different positions: one dead in the center between the “N” and “D”, one nearing the “D” close to the top, and the last one like the last one but further away from the “D”. Confused by that last bit of the sentence? I was, and then I read it again. These test marks suggest that there were at least three working reverse dies from only what I have seen or experienced.

Sooner or later the test mark would disappear as more blanks passed through the die unless it was “freshly” prepared. It’s hard to locate the mark with the naked eye unless the pictures are really big, and even then it could be difficult to locate. I have personally seen the “diamond” in the identical position on two coins with semi proof like reverse finishes, and two additional coins (fresh reverses) with a “diamond” nearing the same position. If somebody could determine the rate at which the diamond would disappear from the die it would shed some additional light on the actual mintage. But, we would still need to determine somehow how many working dies were being used to get an even clearer picture.

The diamond test mark would be near this position as noted with the asterisk without the aesthetic interruptions:

.I N*D I A.

1939 Rupee Reverse Diamond Test Mark

The diamond test mark would look something like this sized about a third of a grain of iodized salt and can be seen in the photo above.

British India Coins of India were always struck in the following manner: The reverse die was stationary, and the obverse die which was the moving part come down on the planchette with many metric tonnes of pressure. From my experience the reverse is generally more defined than the obverse for the British India series. But that will not be true always, and especially for the 1938, 1939, 1940 One Rupee dated coins.

The same design obverse dies that were used for 1938 One Rupee dated coins were used for 1939 One Rupee dated coins as well. I’ve found some 1938 One Rupee dated coins with a sharp diamond test mark located somewhere between the first “R” in the word “EMPEROR”, and the back of King George’s head nearing the center of his hair.

The obverse diamond mark can be in a number of positions within the “fields” or smooth surface of the coin, but are generally located within the area as described above. The 1939 One Rupee dated coins I have seen have had this test mark on every coin, in three positions, and they are all “mushy”. I don’t see any evidence on this pictured coin pointing to any polishing or re-polishing of the obverse die. I’m suggesting that it would have been very easy to leave the 1938 obverse die in its place, replace 1938 One Rupee reverse die with the 1939 One Rupee reverse die, and resume production without a hitch. More than likely the same obverse dies that struck the 1938 One Rupee dated coins were used to strike the 1939 One Rupee dated coins as well.

Shouldn’t we see both diamond test marks having the same “newness” if the obverse/reverse were both newly prepared dies on a 1939 One Rupee dated specimen? Furthermore, you will find a majority of the 1939 One Rupee dated coins with a slight tilt die axis on the reverse about 5-7 degrees to the left as shown. Also, I have seen some 1938 One Rupee dated coins as well with this almost identical die axis. Check to see if any of your 1938 One Rupee dated coins have a die axis. Is this die axis a pure coincidence or was “a” die or multiple dies switched out in the same position during the end of the 1938 One Rupee dated coin striking which probably transitioned into the 1939 One Rupee dated coin(s) striking?


I speculate that the actual number of coins struck for the 1939 One Rupee dated coin was between 7,500-10,000 coins, and the survival rate is 1%-2%

What do I believe survived?

~200 coins or less~


~only 1 time 9 will 3 tell 9~

Here is what’s graded by NGC so far up until 4/23/2012:

XF45 AU50 AU55 AU58 MS61 MS62 MS63
1         1         1         2        1         1        1

Here is what’s graded by PCGS so far up until 4/23/2012:

XF45                                                                 MS64

1                                                                          1

In the last three years I have seen the population reports with numerical value/grades increase from NGC by 2 coins. There is an MS 64 graded by PCGS recently, and three coins graded by ANACS. There are around 16 coins in Third Party Graded holders to my knowledge. This coin is a tough coin to get in general, and in the last 6 years there have been only 5 coins that were in AU+/UNC condition from 2006-2012 purveyed mainly by one auction house.

Most of the UNC examples we have seen have been sold via auction in the last few years. I believe some Englishmen may have saved some examples as novelty, and those are the better examples we see nowadays. Not many but a few UNC examples made it to the USA coin market over the last few decades from across the pond.

I know of at least three that have been in slabs: MS 61, MS 62, and MS 63 at NGC which have been in the population report for the last 5+ years. My point is that in the past six years I know of only 7-8 examples that are UNC coins. A few auction houses in India have sold an additional six examples which were in poor condition over the past 2-3 years.

If one compare’s the poor quality examples sold in India to those examples sold abroad. The examples sold abroad were selling at incredible bargain prices because of the superior quality. There are only 14 public records for this coin in the last 6 years from the date these words were written in late April 2012.

I don’t have firsthand knowledge of any private transactions (other than my own) from the past, and that could very well skew my data. This coin has not shown up very often in auction from my past experience, and that will slowly change I suspect going forward. Maybe a hoard may be found? Maybe December 21st 2012 this hoard will show up courtesy the Mayan Calendar. But, then again I have a financial interest in this coin, assumed the risk of buying this coin, and a hoard would spell disaster for me/those that have taken on this risk.

1939 Rupee Reverse slight Proof Like finish likely from an early striking

I don’t believe there are “thousands” of 1939 One Rupee dated coins as claimed by an auction house many years ago in India. If there are thousands of these out there in the market-place, then why have we only seen 4-5 UNC examples publicly trade in the past 6 years? It sure as hell isn’t because the price is low or there is no demand for the coin. The auction houses in India have been selling poor quality examples for many years now. Maybe that’s all that has been available in the market-place and consumers have been sporadically buying them when available.

But that will change in due time since the collector/investor/hobbyist will demand better quality going forward for India coinage. This is a natural progression for a market that is growing, and maturing at the same time. The next few years may show us how many 1939 One Rupee dated coins are out there in the marketplace. Everybody wants to make money: selling one of these coins could make you money, depending on when you made your purchase, and if you want to sell.

The question is who is going to show us the demand curve first, and sell? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile happy hunting a :









*additional thoughts to consider from my responses

“Thanks for reading the story, and many others contributed as well.”



“I’m glad you enjoyed the reading. The story is very open to think many possibilities through, there are many facts, and I leave much up to the reader. Thanks for the feedback.”



“Thanks for the feedback, and i’m glad you find the info useful. I have never seen a 1939 Proof, and I don’t know if it exists or not. You may want to check around on the web for an image. Thanks. Sincerely, Sanjay”

“1940 One Rupee notes were issued in quantity of 90,000,000, and counted as silver coin. The total mintage for the 1940 One Rupee coin is 150,000,000 according to Krause. In actuality it’s 60,000,000 coins or less. 1941’s mintage may be even less than listed as well, and from experience 1940 and 1941 are almost impossible to find in Gem BU grades.
1943 is equally tough or tougher, and the 1943 mintage is completely erroneous as well.

1944 was the height of World War II, and the mints probably stopped minted 1943 dated which were more than likely struck in 1944. This was common practice as the fiscal year overlaps into the next year. Hence minting into the next year, what I describe for 1939 is that it may have started, and stopped almost immediately. Why I don’t believe it was fully struck is because it has the identical mintage to the 1911 1/2 Rupee, but one will find those in either complete crap grade or Gem BU. Someone pulled a few of those out of the mint, and knew the scarcity. People were well aware of scarcity, and I don’t really think anyone had time to pull a few pieces of the 1939 Rupee. The decisions must have been made so quick, and I think they just stopped after a very short stint of minting. Whatever was mixed in with the 1938 bags or rolls is what got distributed, and that was just by chance.

The 1911 1/2 Rupee mintage I believe was struck fully, stored, more than 1939, and not distributed. The 1939 Rupee mintage struck in it’s entirety?

I am not a buyer-

Someone specifically at the mint pulled out over 15 BU/GEM examples of that date. You have a better shot at finding a bu/gem example than an AU example. Can the same be said for the 1939 Rupee date? No. Ask the collectors or view the population reports. Both can confirm the above speculative info. The thought of debasing the silver Rupee was done months before it was to be actually done, and it was a last minute decision I believe. There wasn’t anything to melt, and whatever escaped from the mint was probably mixed in with the 1938 Rupee bags or rolls.

I am still convinced the mint kept the same obverse working die from 1938 dated Rupee, and replaced only the reverse. The 1939 dated Rupee reverse is off by a few degrees to the left almost identically as the 1938 dated Rupee reverse. They were in a hurry. In addition there is no “test diamond mark” behind George’s head which is usually indicative of a new die. Those diamonds were used to measure die wear. But. I have never seen a full diamond behind the head of George on a 1939 dated Rupee.

What’s very fascinating to me is that the “Reverse” has a fully visible test strike as I have described in the article-

The decision to come off the .917 silver standard for the Rupee was a rash decision, and wasn’t supposed to happen until later in the year for the Rupee. The mints had already made a decision as mentioned in the full article. The mint struck the Security Edge 1939 Rupee, and completely abandoned the 1939 .500 silver debased striking. Why? Because they were probably well into the year to start striking 1940 dated coins. This is what I believe. In addition to what I believe, they could not get the Security Edge application correct. The British Government had to fly people out a few times to properly calibrate the edge, and that was after this striking I think. They still didn’t get it right.

Anyways, collectors will find 1942,1944, 1945, and 1938 Rupees by the boatloads. 1938 was hoarded for sure, and the debased issues were struck in gargantuan quantities. Try to find 1940, 1941, and 1943 in Gem Bu condition. Good Luck. I’m still looking. But collectors are brainwashed by 1938 for some reason that it is “scarce”.

During the debasement The Pittman Act money was due as well after the war. Someone can research when the Pittman Act repayment was actually due, and I’m fairly certain it was in the 1940’s. The Indian British Government starting debasing silver with the 1939 Rupee issue as the 1939 Security Edge Trial indicates. That issue was .500 silver, and not the fineness of .917 as the original issue 1939 Dated issue.

They had to return $270,000,000 to the good ole USA via The Pittman Act that they borrowed 20+ years ago-

Where should they take the money out from? The British Treasuries? Nope-


Debase the Rupee, and send the silver back to the UK. There was political unrest, and the British Government knew their time was up sooner or later, and they started operation : Debase

Inject half the silver in the form of coin, and flood the People with the “frozen” year 1940 One Rupee Paper notes which were not even close to par in lieu of the hard asset of silver in terms of value.

But they pulled it off-

Very quietly-

From 1940 to 1946 can one imagine how much silver was sent to England via the Reserve Bank?

and then India gets it’s Independence shortly thereafter-

think they cared about silver?

or freedom?




*additional thoughts

“Thanks for sharing the information with us, and your thoughts. I always suspected that the 1936 India denominations were “frozen” strikes or years. There are so many of them available in great quantities, there were no circulating coins dated 1937, and as you pointed out that most of these coins were not struck until after the order was noted. Similarly Pridmore does mention that a small quantity of 1938 coins were struck in late 1939. 1835 very well was frozen I suspect but only up until mid 1837 when William passed, and 1840 Divided Legend was struck in mass quantity probably up until 1862. 1840 Continuous Rupees I’m not so certain about as they are more difficult to find than Divided. I am starting to believe they stopped making them in 1850-51 or so when the Divideds were first struck. Makes sense to me, thanks, and regards-”