The Coins of India

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In attempting this, certain limits have naturally imposed themselves. Coins purely foreign in fabric, as those of the Graeco-Bactrian kings, of the Portuguese, and of the various European trading companies, even when struck and current in India, have been rigidly excluded : this exclusion does not, however, extend to money issued by resident foreigners with the permission and in the style of Indian rulers. For a cognate reason the year 1857 has been fixed as the downward limit in this survey. Again, for the sake of simplicity, technical topics, such as weight-standards and metallurgy, have only been touched upon where discussion appeared unavoidable. The chief desire of the writer has been to arouse in Indians an interest in their country’s coinage, in the study of which so many fields of research lie as yet [S. 8] almost untouched. Although India has no coins to show comparable to the supreme artistic conceptions of the Sicilian Greeks, the study of her coinage, in addition to its exceptional importance as a source of history, is attended by peculiar advantages, not the least of which is the fact that materials for study lie, as it were, almost at one’s door. In nearly every Indian bazar, even the smallest, in the shops of the Sarrafs or moneychangers, gold, silver and copper coins are to be had, sometimes in plenty, and can be bought cheaply, often at little more than the metal value. There is even the chance of obtaining for a few coppers, and a far more important consideration saving from the melting pot, a coin which may add a new fact, or a name, or a date to history. A detailed description will be found opposite each of the plates, giving transliterations and translations of the coin legends; and these, with the list of selected authorities at the end of the book, should provide the key to a fuller knowledge of the subject. To almost all the works mentioned in the latter the writer is indebted, although it has been impossible to acknowledge all obligations in detail. Mention must also be made of Dr. George Macdonald’s fascinating little study, The Evolution of Coinage (The Cambridge Manuals of Science and Literature), as well as of the late Dr. Vincent Smith’s Oxford History of India, which has in general been accepted as the authority for the historical facts and dates, somewhat plentifully incorporated throughout the book.

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