Indian Gold Coins

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The gold coins of India have a long history – one that is almost as ancient as that of the gold coins of the west. Gold coins are an integral part of Indian culture, and its collection and use are tied with traditional superstitions and customs. Despite this long-standing affair with gold coinage however, not many examples of Indian gold coins, either ancient, early modern or current have managed to catch the eye of international collectors and investors. Sadly, even natives themselves show only a passing interest in the collection and cataloguing of the nearly uncountable varieties of still extant, and lost, but historically mentioned gold coins despite it (gold) playing such an integral part on their culture, mythology, and history.

The earliest examples of Indian coins date back to circa 700 – 900 BC, just a few centuries after the Lydians first created electrum coins. The first mention of gold coinage can be traced to circa 100 AD, when the Kushan Emperor Vima Kadaphises commissioned and introduced the first Indian gold coin – a gold dinar which bore the image of the deity Shiva.[1] From 100 AD onwards, examples of early gold coins began to multiply, and with every new ruler, or every new conqueror came issues of gold coins bearing the current ideologies, symbolisms, flavour, and of course, purchasing power of the times. With its long history of various rulers, both Eastern and Western, examples of gold coins bearing inscriptions or symbolism from different cultures and ethnicities abound, and it circulated alongside local gold coins minted for either limited local usage, or otherwise ceremonial purposes.

Next to silver, gold was historically the general current used in day-to-day transactions, with especially minted and reserved gold coins used for more ceremonial purposes. Because India’s early gold coins were made from near-pure gold, those coins that did not become re-minted were usually hoarded and minted down to be used as material for jewelries. Gold coins soon became an integral part of Indian culture and belief, with religious statuary containing some percentage of gold from melted-down coins, and gold coins incorporated into jewelry and gifted to brides as dowries. The intrinsic value of gold also made it a prime investment material since the early times, and with India’s long history of uneasy and often unpredictable governmental upheavals, the masses soon preferred to keep their fortunes in gold, rather than trust in banks – a practice which remains strong (in older families) to this day.

Many examples of Indian gold coins are those that were created or at least commissioned by the East India Company sometime in circa 1700s – 1800s. These coins, ranging from extremely primitive to rustic were used as trading currency or were otherwise shipped off by the East India Trading Company to be used as prime material for coinage in Britain.[2] Examples of finer Indian gold coins are highly influenced by Moorish artwork and Islamic motifs, which were commonplace from the latter part of the 1800s to the middle of the early 1900s.[3] It was not until the latter 1990s that India began to truly create gold coins of extremely superior quality (maintaining their traditional standards of 22-carat / 24-carat fineness).[4] These modern coins are usually minted as gifts by private mints and artisan coin-makers.[5] The Indian government has issued a select number of commemorative gold coins at some time, although these are very scarce. Modern Indian gold coins are, like the traditional ones, still used as dowry gifts or as jewelry, although with the price of gold slowly increasing and the need for a stable form of investment growing in the wake of what seems to be a global economic crises, the demand for gold has increased significantly. However, the use of Indian gold coins as investment materials is not commonplace, with the majority of Indians still preferring western gold bullion over their own. Interest in Indian gold coinage is therefore sadly limited only to a few select number of numismatists who truly have a passion for the study and attainment of historical and modern Indian coinage.

Indian Gold Coins - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

Note - this site provides general information about gold, silver, coins and bullion. None of the contents of this web site should be seen as financial or investment advice.

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