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This rupee turned up in a find of 129 coins in the Bhandāra district of the Central Provinces. The mint may probably be identified with Purbandar, commonly spelt Porbandar, a town on the west coast of Kathiāwār, long. 709 lat. 22° and a port of importance in early times : cf. Elliot's History of India, Vol. I, p. 444. It is not far from Junagarh which was a well-known mint in the reign of Aurangzeb.
Two other coins only from this mint are known-one in the Cabinet of Mr. G. B. Bleazby of Allahābād, and the other in the Cabinet of Dr. G. P. Taylor of Ahmadābād. The former is of the reign of Shāh Alam Bahadur Shāh, the latter of Farrukhsiyar dated A. H. 1128
H. N. WRIGHT.
28. Coins of the Murshidābād Mint between 1748 and 1793 A.D.
Great difficulty has always been felt in distinguishing between the native coinage of the Murshidābād mint during the early days of the East India Company's administration of Bengal and the Company's own coinage. There appears to be no record shewing exactly when the native coinage ended and the Company's issues began.
A few facts only stand out definitely.
We know that in 1757, after the recapture of Calcutta, the Company received permission to establish a mint in Calcutta, and coins are known of 1171 A.H. (1757-8) bearing the mint name Calcutta.
It is further known that in 1765 (1178-79), after the battle of Buxār, the Company assumed the right of coinage in Bengal.
From Regulation XXXV of 1793 we learn that the mints at "Patna, Dacca and Murshidābād” were withdrawn “
were withdrawn “soon after the commencement of the Company's administration, "l and that the coinage of sicca rupees was confined thereafter to Calcutta. The latest rapee, so far known, bearing the name Calcutta, is of the year 1176 A.H.=1762-3. Cf. Brit. Mus. Cat. No. 67, p. 277. It is generally supposed that this name was discontinued and Murshidābād substituted when the Company assumed the right of coinage in Bengal; that from 1765 (1178-9 A.H.), till the native mint at Marsbidābād was closed, coins were issued bearing the mint name Murshidābād from both the Murshidābād and Calcutta Mints, and that the latter were probably an imitation of the former. Certain facts have, however, come to light which seem to render it doubtful whether the issue of Murshidābād native style rupees from the two mints was ever carried on simultaneously, at any rate prior to 1792 A.D. when a mint was re-establisbed at Murshidābād.
1 Mr. Thurston in his paper on the “History of the East India Company Coinage" [J.A.S.B. 1893, p. 61], in talking of the copper coinage, mentions 1772 as the date of withdrawal. He states no anthority for this date. The facts I mention indicate an earlier one.
The most recent paper dealing with this subject is a very useful one by Mr. J. M. C. Johnston in the Numismatic Chronicle of 1903, Part I, p. 71. Mr.
Mr. Johnston says on pp. 75-76 :
“ There is little doubt but that the Nawāb of Bengal continued to strike coins at his own mint ac Murshidābād side by side with the Company's coins, which bore the same mint name, but were probably struck at Calcutta. The result is that for some years coins of native fabric appear side by side with others struck in a collar in European style, all bearing the mint name Murshidābād.”
“In the native style it is impossible to say whether the coins were actually struck by the Nawāb or by the Company, bat, as the Province was then under the control of the East India Company, it seems reasonable to place all the coins with the mint Murshidābād after the Hijrah date 1177, or with a higher regnal year than six of the nominal reign of Shāh' Alam, under the British series. All with earlier dates would naturally fall to the Moghul issues."
The classification suggested by Mr. Johnston is a practical one, as coins struck in and after 1765 (1178-9 A.H.) though issued from the Murshidābad mint must have been issued with the permission, tacit or otherwise, of the East India Company, and may therefore rightly be regarded as Company's coins. I venture, however, to hazard the suggestion that thë Calcutta mint did not commence to issue Murshidābād native-style rupees until the Murshidābād mint was closed.
A hoard containing, among other coins, 119 native-style rupees of Shāh 'Alam, bearing the mint name Murshidābād, has recently been acquired by Government as treasure-trove, and I have had the opportunity of examining them as Honorary Numismatist to the Asiatic Society. The hoard was discovered in the Dinājpur district of the pro. vince of Bengal and contains the following specimens of Murshidābād rupees of Shāh 'Alam in native style, which give both the Hijra date on the obverse and the regoal year on the reverse.
Number of Regnal year.
1 3 (1175-6)
2 5 (1177-8)
2 7 (1179-80)
4 8 (1180-81)
7 10 (1182-83)
2 It will be observed from the above list that, taking the first regnal year of Shāh 'Alam as counting from 4th Jumāda I, 1173 (the day of his accession) to 3rd Jumāda I, 1174 and so on, the Hijra dates are correctly given on the coins up to the 10th year. The British Museum possesses a rupee in native style of the 11th year, also with a correct Hijra date 1184. From the 12th year, however, the Hijra dates on the obverse no longer correspond in all cases with the regral years given on the reverse.
For instance, the date 1186 is found on a rupee of the 12th year which closed on 3rd Jumāda I, 1185; and, similarly, 1189 and 1190 appear on coins of the 15th regnal year which closed in 1188. The presumption is that no native style rupees were struck in the 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th regnal years bearing the correct regnal years. This is strengthened by a sentence in the regulation of 1793 in which it is stated that, while the 19 san rupee is the established coin of the country," the rupees of the eleventh, twelfth, and fifteenth san were directed to be considered current equally with the 19th san sicca rupee.”
1 I find on p. 107 of the Catalogue of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, a coin which is assigned to the year14, but it seems doubtful from the legend given whether 14 is not a misprint for 10,
This latter sentence suggests the question : if rupees of the 11th, 12th and 15th san were to be considered current along with the 19th san rupee, why should rupees of earlier sanwāt have been excluded, if equally struck in the Calcutta mint ? A possible answer is, I think, disclosed by a close examination of the earlier Murshidābād rupees. The coins of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th years in the Dinajpur find bear, without exception, on the obverse, between the upward curve of the J of dias and the 8 of slik a mint mark which is probably meant to represent a rayed sun.
Out of 19 rupees of the 10th year, however, only three coins bear this mark. In the other 16 it is replaced by a crescent. This crescent is borne on all the rupees of the 12th (7), 15th (12) and 19th (51) san. Quære : Does the change from the sun to the crescent mark the closing of the Murshidābād mint and the transfer of the coinage of Murshidābād rupees to the Calcutta mint? It is of course possible that this change in mint marks was only a consequence of a change in mint masters,1 but it is often a straw which shews the way the wind blows, and the suggestion I have thrown out seems to some extent supported by other circumstantial evidence. We know that the Murshidābād mint was not closed till
soon after the commencement of the Company's administration," i.e, soon after 1765 (the 6-7th year of Shāh'Alam's reign). We find that the earliest European style coinage (indubitably from the Calcutta mint) begins in the 10th year or 1768-9 A.D. (see No. 25 of Mr. Johnston's list); and, thirdly, we have the exclusion in 1793 from the currency of rupees of years prior to the 11th regnal year of Shah'Alam. (It would be natural to exclude the Calcutta-struck rupees of the 10th year because their inclusion would render difficult the exclusion of the Murshidābād-struck rupees of the same year, and the intention of the legislature seems to have been to render obsolete all native mint coins). These three points may not individually be strong ones, but when taken together and in combination with the change of mint mark also in the 10th regnal year of Shah’Alam, they seem to me sufficient to warrant an inference that the coinage of native style Murshidābād rupees was transferred to Calcutta in 1768 or 1769, and that probably before that date the issue of those coins was confined to Murshidābād.
The Dinājpur find is also interesting in another way. Mr. Johnston, on p. 76 of his paper, suggests another method of distinguishing between native issues and Company's coinage. He says: “ Fortunately
1 The sun mint mark first appears on the coins of Murshidābād in the reign of Alamgir II. (1168 A. H.) and continued without interruption till the 10th year of Shah'Alam (1183) A.H.
there is a further distinction than that of date to be drawn between the late Moghul issues, and the continuation of the same series under the Company's rule ; it is in the fact that for the first time the latter bear on the reverse the “cinquefoil " a mint mark apparently instituted at Calcutta and adopted at Murshidābād when the Company took over the mint with the administration of the district. The presence, therefore, of this mint mark on a coin bearing the Murshidābād mint name, can be can be taken as evidence that the coin should be classed in the British series."
It is true that the " cinque foil” appears on the earliest Calcutta rupee known (No. 1 in the list appended to Mr. Johnston's paper). The Dinājpur find, however, contains the following rupees of Murshidābādmint bearing, either in whole or part, the" "cinque foil" mark, viz., one rupee of Muhammad Shāh of 30th regnal year, six rupees of Ahmad Shāh of 2nd (3), 3rd, 5th and 6th regnal years, and five rupees of Shāh’Alam of the 2nd, 3rd (2) and 5th (2) regnal years, i.e., before the annexation of Bengal. It seems clear then that the presence of the
cinque foil” on the Murshidābād coins cannot be taken as evidence that those coins belong to the British series, as that mark appears on Mughal issues from Murshidābād some years before any mint was founded at Calcutta, and the right of coinage was assumed by the Company. The Calcutta mint must, therefore, have borrowed the "cinquefoil” from Murshidābād under the Mughals.
To summarise the above remarks, two special features of interest appear to me to be disclosed in the Dinājpur find-(1) the conclusive evidence that the "cinquefoil " mint mark is of earlier than Calcutta origin and cannot therefore be a guide to the classification of the 66 British series coins; (2) the inferential evidence afforded by the mint marks on the coins and indirectly supported by other material that the closing of the Murshidābād mint occurred in the 10th regnal year of Shah’Alam or 1768-69 A.D., and that before that date native style Murshidābād rupees were struck at Murshidābād only and after that date at Calcutta only.
H. N. WRIGHT.
29. Note regarding a silver coin found near Gargāon in the
Sibsāgar district. (With plate.) The specimen sent to me for inspection is a square coin weighing 175 grains. The edges have been clean cut, and the general appearance of the coin is of one which has apparently been recently struck.
J. I. 15