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British Indian Coins to Make Numismatic History

Baldwin’s are delighted to present part two of the most impressive collection of Indian coinage ever to be sold by public auction. Due to be held on the 31 May at the CIPFA Conference Centre in London the auction will contain 291 lots of Patterns and Proofs of British India, the Presidencies and the Indian Native States.

BritishIndianLot 796, a Silver Pattern Rupee of 1839, crafted by an unidentified Indian engraver at the Bombay mint, is perhaps the most important piece of the entire collection.  Very little is known about the coin with Pridmore only able to add that it was submitted to the Supreme Government in 1839, but rejected. The only additional information that can be derived from his writings on the History of the East India Company is that the engraver at the Bombay mint in 1838 was Jewram Shamji.  An early 20th century catalogue of the coins in the Calcutta mint states that two of these patterns reside there but it is unknown if they are still in-situ at the museum.  This auction offers a superb opportunity for the buyer of the coin to become part of numismatic history as the owner of one of the most important coins of British India.  This impressive coin carries an estimate of £60,000 – 80,000.

In amongst the other items in the sale are some of the most exciting offerings from the British Indian series ever to have been offered at public auction. Lot 748, a 1904 Copper Pattern ½-Anna, is one of only three examples known to exist.  Of the three, lot 748 and a second specimen, from the Norman Jacobs Collection, are the only two available to private collectors.  The third is housed in the Calcutta Museum. The minstmaster was clearly thinking ‘outside the box’ when he created this pattern, the Rupee die was available as the obverse but a completely new and fresh reverse was made to strike this 31mm coin. This rare opportunity to own a coin of this caliber, in this condition, accounts for the estimate of £20,000 – 30,000. Lot 849, a 1941 Silver original Pattern Dollar, is the pattern photographed in the Stevens & Weir book, The Uniform Coinage of India 1835-1947.  In the cataloguing of the coin Baldwin’s specialist Randy Weir describes it as “exciting just to look at.” The patterns were produced because of a shortage of silver during the Second World War and with thoughts of making commerce easier by producing a higher denomination coin. It was also felt that it might be possible to only put 2-Rupees worth of silver into a 2 ½ Rupee coin.  Around the same time the mint decided to reduce the amount of silver in their coins and it is thought that perhaps they believed this additional currency would be too much for the public to bear. David Fore and Randy Weir spent twenty years trying to obtain one of these proofs and, according to Weir, ‘’couldn’t stop smiling for a week” once it was located. This attractive and historic piece is estimated to sell for £30,000 – 40,000.

Formed over twenty five years by a passionate collector of Indian coins, and a specialist with the diligence to locate the best examples, this collection is the culmination of a quest to build a monumental collection of the finest British Indian coinage. The collection in its entirety contains over four thousand coins, of which, between 300 and 400, were formerly in the world famous Fred Pridmore collection, which was catalogued by A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd and sold by auction by Glendinings between September 1981 and October 1983.

Part one of this collection has been sold today as part of a three day Baldwin’s auction extravaganza alongside part three of the Bentley Collection of British Gold Sovereigns and The Horus Collection of Islamic coins. The auctions will take place in London between 7 – 9 May and catalogues are available online at www.baldwin.co.uk/sales-calendar. Part three of this collection will be sold on the 26 September as part of Coinex, the UK’s largest numismatic coin convention.


748 †   Copper Pattern ½-Anna, 1904, on the same size planchets as the 1862-1877 circulating ½-Anna coinage, 31mm (SW 7.153).  In NGC holder, graded PF63BN.

Estimate:  £20,000-30,000

ex G Hearn collection
ex F Steinberg
ex Kaslove collection, sold to David Fore in private trade for US$30,000 There are only three of these coins known to exist, of which only two are available to private collectors (this and the example in the Jacobs collection), the third is in the Calcutta Museum. Clearly the mintmaster was thinking “outside of the box” when he decided to strike a few of these. Yes, the Rupee die was available as the obverse, but a fresh reverse die was made to strike this 31mm coin I have seen one of the other coins in an NGC holder, graded PF63, and there is no doubt that the Fore piece here is more attractive. It should really be graded PF65.

776 †   Brass Pattern 2-Annas, 1917, die axis  (SW 8.193, this coin illustrated, where it is listed as copper-nickel; Pr 1078, where it is listed as nickel).  In NGC holder, graded PF62.

Estimate: £20,000-30,000

It is a shame that something so rare and important was improperly stored for some time, but that is what we are left with today.  An important coin nonetheless.

795 †   Gold Proof Set of the Currency Coins, Rupee, ½-Rupee and ¼-Rupee, 1835C (SW 1.44, 1.56, 1.67). First in NGC holder, graded PF61, the other two in NGC holders, graded PF63. (3)

Estimate: £50,000-80,000

It is believed that this set was known about as far back as the 19th century, although probably later in the century due to the die rust on the Rupee. Records indicate that Spink sold one of these sets in the early 1980s, but we are unsure if this is the same set.

796 †   Silver Pattern Rupee, 1839, prepared by an Indian engraver (possibly Jewran Shamji) at the Bombay mint, obv VICTORIA QUEEN, young head left, rev value within wreath, edge grained (SW 2.8; Pr 181; KM Pn14). Gem Proof, moderately toned.

Estimate: £60,000-80,000

ex Nobleman collection, March 1922, lot 581 (part)
ex Brand collection, 14 June 1985, lot 212
ex Sir John Wheeler collection, Baldwin’s Auction 22, 2 May 2000, lot 197
This is probably the most important coin in the Fore collection. Due to crossed wires between Dr Fore and myself we had to move heaven and earth to buy this from the Wheeler collection in 2000 for just under £30,000. Wheeler purchased it from Andre de Clermont who had bought it at the Brand auction for less than US$3,000.

There is a great deal still unknown about this coin. All Pridmore has to say is “Pattern prepared by a native at the Bombay Mint. Submitted to the Supreme Government in Feb., 1839 but rejected”, He does not add much in his writings on the History of the East India Company, except to say that the Bombay engraver of this coin is not named but that in 1838 the die cutter and engraver at the mint was one Jewram Shamji. An early 20th century catalogue of the coins in the Calcutta mint states that two of these reside there, but are they still there today? This piece is a joy to behold. The next owner will certainly go down into history as someone who owned one of the most important coins of British India.

844 †  Pattern Set 1949, Silver Rupee, ½-Rupee, ¼-Rupee, 2-Annas (3), Anna and Pice, by Patrick Brindley, for the new proposed coinage for the New Republic: Rupee, rev man winnowing wheat; ½-Rupee, rev type II, worker pouring metal in a foundry, the building behind; ¼-Rupee, rev miner holding pick inside a mine; 2-Annas, in nickel, rev type I, side view of peacock; 2-Annas, in brass, rev type I, side view of peacock, without the obverse stars at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock; 2-Annas, rev type II, facing peacock in full plumage; Anna, rev water buffalo; Pice, rev two sheafs of wheat; all obv GOVERNMENT OF INDIA around the lion capital of Asoka. All mint state Proofs that would probably grade at around “64” in American standards, the first two of the 2-Annas has a few handling marks.  (8)

Estimate: £30,000-40,000

A similar set (except with two different ½-Rupees, this has only one, but only one peacock standing 2-Annas) sold in Baldwin’s Auction 71, September 2011, lot 1609, for £52,000. It is generally considered that four sets were struck and a few of the 2-Annas have come to market since. These designs are far superior to that which was eventually used in India but this is one of the great joys of patterns – the what could have been of these coins.

846 †   Silver Original Pattern 10-Rupees, 1854, off-metal strike in silver, die axis  (SW 3.20; Pr 28). In NGC holder, graded PF64, dark grey tone.

Estimate: £20,000-30,000

Half of the coins of this set are in the Fore collection. It would be wonderful to see a full set put back together again.

849 †   Silver Original Pattern Dollar, 1941, a touch of die rust on the King’s neck which suggests a restrike, but under the attractive blue tone it has the surfaces of an original proof, they are so rare that the originals and restrikes have been priced the same in the SW book (SW 9.1, this coin illustrated; Pr 1088A). In NGC holder, graded PF66 and described as a c.1950 RESTRIKE PATTERN.

Estimate: £30,000-40,000

This is the pattern photographed in the Stevens & Weir book and is exciting just to look at. These were produced because of the shortage of silver due to the war and with thoughts of making commerce easier by producing a higher denomination coin. Also it was felt that they could get away with only putting in 2-Rupees worth of silver into a 2½-Rupee coin. Students of this period of economic history will know the story behind the silver that was sent from India to England for safekeeping. Needless to say, this coin did not get much further than a few patterns being made. It was around this time that the mint started to reduce the silver in their coins and maybe they thought this would be too much for the public to take. David Fore and I spent 20 years chasing one of these, always being the underbidder. We both smiled for a week after finally buying this superb coin.

Baldwin’s is a long-established company, with a history going back to the 1872. A.H. Baldwin and Sons Ltd offer coins for collectors, including Ancient, Mediaeval, British and Foreign Coins, Commemorative Medals, Tokens and Numismatic Books. Our stock is the largest in the UK. Baldwins also organise Auctions. We conduct regular auctions of all numismatic material; coins from all areas and historical periods but also Banknotes, Military Medals and Books. The Auctions are run worldwide : London, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.

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