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The East India Company and Its Coins

The East India Company Coins

The East India Company’s classic coins included Gold Mohur, Silver Rupiya, Pagoda, Anna, Fanams and Cash

Four centuries ago ships set sail in search of spices with little but a charter from Queen Elizabeth I. The explorers and pioneers took risks, broke new ground, and sometimes made brutal mistakes. Without The East India Company, our world would not be what it is today. It changed the world’s tastes, its thinking, and its people. It created new communities and shaped commerce, cities, and even countries. The East India Company journey continues as a multi-faceted business trading once again in the commodities of by-gone days, learning from the past, to embrace a more tolerant and harmonious future.

The East India Company coins has long been known in the precious metal trade. It was and still is the only company in history to mint its own trading currency as it grew to become one of the largest bullion traders of its time.

Much of The East India Company’s history has been captured in the immortal designs used in its coinage. These coins tell the story of a simple requirement to find a commodity with which to tempt its Eastern partners, a new coinage emerged, which eventually funded the very foundations of the British Empire.

The need for The Company to use bullion as a trading commodity grew from the lack of appropriate goods with which to tempt their eastern partners. Cargoes of heavy cloths, such as woolens, initially loaded onto the East India Company ships, were quickly replaced with bullion coins, more readily acceptable in the new markets they were exploring.

By the middle of the 17th century, The Company’s trade increasingly depended on the export of bullion from Britain to serve its needs. By 1677, it had become so influential that King Charles II granted it the right to mint its own currencies in the territory of Bombay, which it administered through an earlier grant of charter. Over time, this led to the emergence of over 14 mints in India, including those in Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.

In an article for CoinWeek by Dr. Richard S Appel  wrote….

During their dominance of India, the company established their own coinage. They initially built a mint in Bombay in 1672. At first they competed against a number of regional mints but, because of their control of the country, in 1835 they absorbed the competition. The largest of these belonged to the Mughal Empire and the directorates of Marathas and Rajputs. Despite the fact that the East India Company was a non-government entity, after it consolidated India’s existing mints it became the sole issuer and controller of India’s circulating money until 1858.

Gold coins are typically a country’s highest valued coins. Historically they reflected the affluence, power and prestige of their parent nations.

Significantly, most countries throughout history were too poor to issue gold coinage.

[The East India Company’s coins included Gold Mohur, Silver Rupiya, Pagoda, Anna, Fanams and Cash, many of which remain highly sought after and revered by collectors to this day.] 

Their gold coins are called Mohurs. They were issued in very limited quantities in 1835, in one-Mohur and two-Mohur denominations. Both of these coins are quite rare, extremely desirable, and only a handful of each remain in existence. One-Mohur coins were produced as business strikes and proof restrikes, and most two Mohurs were coined as proofs.”

By 1835, the Coinage Act decreed that there should be a universal coinage for all the British Colonies. As a result, coins were struck for the first time bearing the effigy of the reigning monarch, King William IV.

Issuing Authority of St. Helena

Most historical accounts state that the island of St. Helena was discovered on 21 May 1502 by Galician navigator João da Nova sailing in the service of Portugal, and that he named it “Santa Helena” after Helena of Constantinople.

St. Helena remains one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, situated in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, 2,500 miles east of Rio de Janeiro in South America and 1,210 miles west of Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa. In short, it is in the middle of nowhere.

High Knoll Fort – St. Helena

In 1657, Oliver Cromwell granted The East India Company a charter to govern Saint Helena and, the following year, the company decided to fortify the island and colonize it. The first governor, Captain John Dutton, arrived in 1659, making Saint Helena one of Britain’s oldest colonies outside North America and the Caribbean.

St. Helena played a vital role in the success of The East India Company. Saint Helena was an important port of call of the East India Company as ships would stop there on the return leg of their voyages to British India and China to replenish supplies of water and provisions and, during wartime, form convoys that would sail under the protection of vessels of the Royal Navy.

Today, Saint Helena has about 4,500 residents and is Britain’s second-oldest remaining overseas territory after Bermuda. The local currency in St. Helena is the Saint Helena Pound (SHP) which is linked at parity to the British Pound and in 2016,

The East India Company secured the right to mint legal tender coins for the Island of St Helena.

Over three hundred years after The East India Company was first given the right to mint its own currency by Charles II in 1677, the company has announced the issue of its legal tender coins returning to its by-gone days in the bullion trade. The Limited Edition gold proof coins are struck by the Royal Mint, who first minted coins for The East India Company over two hundred years ago.

The coin designs are inspired by the main trading currencies The East India Company used in the 17th – 19th century ─ CASH and Mohur. The silver ‘CASH’ proof coins feature a peacock design symbolizing immortality and rebirth and are available in a 1/2oz and 1oz coin equivalent to a 10p and 20p respectively. The gold Mohur proof coins bear the famous Lion & Palm Tree motif denoting wealth and prosperity and are available in a half and one Mohur coin equivalent to 50p and £1 respectively

The Limited Edition East India Company proof coins can be purchased by mail order or by visiting The East India Company store on Conduit Street, London. In addition, the company is making the gold and silver coins available through a network of bullion dealers worldwide.

The East India Company has also just released a very small limited edition of 100 ‘Bicentenary Guinea and Sovereign’ collection sets to the public. Each set contains one 2016 Guinea and one 2017 Sovereign .

The exclusive quarter-ounce proof collection, struck in 22-carat gold, contains modern releases of The East India Company 2016 Guinea (featuring a struck-on-the-day mark) and The Royal Mint’s Benedetto Pistrucci’s designed 2017 Sovereign.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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  1. I have some old coins -few from East India Company, pre independence India coins George V, George V11..
    Also quite a bunch of Indian stamps from pre-to post Independent India. I stopped collecting prob. in the 80s!


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