11 Nisan 2011 Pazartesi


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Typical ancient Indian silver punchmarked Karshapana coins
India developed some of the world's earliest coins sometime around 600BC.  The coins were made by taking a flat, though often irregularly shaped,  piece of silver, cutting it to the proper weight, then applying a series of punches to the front of it, indicating where and when it was made. The punches covered a wide variety of symbols.  As the coin circulated, additional punches were sometimes put on the back, verifying the weight and fineness of the coin.  The coin, known as the Punchmarked Karshapana, continued to be issued until about the second century BC.   Today the coin is one of the least expensive early coins available, and represents one of the earliest approaches to the development of coinage.


Kushan India, Bronze Tetradrachm of Kujula Kadphises 30-80ADThe Kushan Empire covered much what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India from about the first to the third century AD.  They grew wealthy controlling trade centers on the Silk Road and on the Indus River and incorporated elements of the Greek, Roman, Chinese, Persian, Indian and other cultures into their lives.  Their coins incorporate Greek designs and often use a corrupted Greek alphabet in the legends. Kujula Kadphises united a loose confederation of tribes to form the Kushan Empire in about 30AD.  He further expanded the Empire until his death in 80AD.  This bronze tetradrachm of Kujula Kadphises features a Kushan India, Bronze Tetradrachm of Soter Megas (Vima Takha) 80-105ADGreek style diademed head on the obverse and Hercules with a club or another Greek deity on the reverse.  The coin grades Good to Fine.  We also have well made bronze Tetradrachms of Kushan king “Soter Megas”.  The title “Soter Megas” means Great Savior.   The coin, which grades VG to Fine, shows the Greek style diademed bust of the king on one side, and the king on horseback on the other.  The king thought of himself as being so great, he did not need to put his actual name on the coin.  Until quite recently however, scholars did not know who really was!  It is now believed that he is Vima Takha who succeeded Kujula Unidentified Kushan bronze coinsKadphises, ruling from 80AD to 105AD.  He expanded his empire into what is now Pakistan.  We also have a number of worn, unidentified Kushan thick bronze Tetradrachms and bronze Drachms   I don’t have the time to work these up.   Most coins feature the king standing on one side and a Greek, Indian or other deity on the other.  The unidentified coins date from about 105 to 225AD and grade Poor to Good.


Ancient India: 5 silver Drachms of SkakandarguptaThis ancient silver portrait drachm was struck by Skanda-gupta, who ruled the Gupta Empire from 455 to about 485AD.  The Empire was one of the most famous and prosperous Hindu dynasties of India. The name Skanda is derived from the name Alexander the Great who had marched into India some 700 years earlier.  Skanda was not as successful against his enemies as his namesake, and lost much of his empire to the invading Huns (Hepthalites).  The coin grades Good to Very Good and has a very crude portrait of the Emperor on the obverse.  The reverse has legends and symbols.


Silver Drachm of the Maitrakas of ValabhiThis medieval silver Drachm is the only coin issued by the Maitrakas of Valabhi.  Senepati Bhatarka, a General in the Gupta army, took advantage of the weakening Gupta Empire. In 470 AD he set up an independent kingdom in Saurashtra, located on the Arabian Sea in western India.  His capital city of Valabhi (now Vala) became a major center for both religious and secular studies. Though Maitrakas dynasty ruled for nearly 300 years, their coins remained unchanged.  The coins, modeled after the Gupta Drachm, have a crude bust of Senepati Bhatarka on the front and a legend and a trident on the reverse.  The crudely made coins are about 10mm in diameter and are often struck partially off-center.  It is a remarkably affordable medieval silver coin.


Kangra bull and horseman bronze jital, circa 1220-1300ADWith the closing of vital trade routes due to the Mongol invasion of Afghanistan, this remote Himalayan town in India developed into a major trading center in the 13th Century, supplying horses to Northern India.  These small (12mm) copper Jitals of Kangra are well struck, however are very crudely engraved.  The design, based on coins that had been in use for centuries, features a very crude Brahma Bull on one side, and a horseman on the other.  The coins were made from about 1220 to 1300 AD.


Delhi Sultans, Jital (2 Gani) of Mohammed II 1296-1317AD‘Ala al-din (Alauddin) Mohammed II Khaljis was the favorite nephew of Sultan Firoz II.  To repay his Uncle’s kindness, he murdered his Uncle and his son in order to claim the throne of the Delhi Sultans of India in 1296AD.  He plundered the wealth of his nobles and conquered neighboring territories.  He ruthlessly turned back repeated Mongol invasions, saving India from Mongol domination.   This billon (debased silver) Jital (2 Gani) was issued between 1296 and 1316AD.


Delhi Sultans, Forced brass Tanka of Muhammad III 1325-51ADMuhammad III bin Tughluq ruled much of India from 1325 to 1351AD.  He  was a scholar, calligrapher and an innovative monarch.  Unfortunately  he did not always consider the consequences of his innovations. Vast amounts of his treasury was spent trying to expand and consolidate his realm.  This only encouraged numerous revolts throughout his realm. He forcibly moved his entire capital and all its inhabitants from Delhi to a more central location in the Deccan of central India.   Unfortunately there was insufficient water to support the population, and the capital was returned to Delhi two years later, with great suffering and loss of life of the citizens.  About 1330AD he tried to replace the silver Tanka with this brass Tanka, in an effort to boost his treasury.   The brass Tanka has beautiful calligraphy on both sides, with legends to encourage its citizens to accept the debased currency. His unhappy citizens, forced to accept this token coinage, soon started to counterfeit them in vast numbers.  Foreign traders would not accept the brass Tankas  Within a few years he was forced to return to the silver Tanka, redeeming  both real and fake brass Tankas at a great cost to his treasury.  It is reported that a “mountain” of these brass Tankas remained lying outside the sultanate’s treasuries for over a century.  The coins grade Fine to Very Fine with some green patina.


Mughal India, Akbar the Great silver Mahmudi from BaglanaThis silver Mahmudi was struck by the Raga of Baglana at his mint in Muhler, India.  The unusual denomination was struck at the request of traders in the port of Surat.  It is based on the Persian Mahmudi, which was widely used in Surat, rather than contemporary Mughal coins.  The coin was struck in the name of Akbar the Great. Akbar ascended to the Mughal at the age of 14 in 1556AD.   He greatly expanded his empire to include most of northern and central India. He was relatively tolerant of the practices of those he conquered, which brought him wide respect. Though he died in 1605, the coin continued to be struck in his name for a few years.  The thick silver coin weighs about 5.5 grams and grades Very Fine.