|Old Silver Mint, Calcutta, India.www.flickr.co|
|Silver Two Annas Coin of Victoria Queen of Calcutta Mint of 1875. www.ebay.in|
The first mint was likely founded in Lydia in the 7th century BC, for coining gold, silver and electrum. The Lydian innovation gradually spread to neighboring Greece. Greek Isles such as Crete; a mint existed at the ancient city of Cydonia on Crete at least as early as the fifth century BC. Production of coins in the Roman Empire, dating from about the 4th century BC, to a large extent gave a stimulus to later development of coin minting in Europe.
The East India Company settlement at Calcutta was established on 24 August, 1690, its factory fortified in 1696. The fort, named after King William III, began its trading activities in 1700. In 1715 the Company's operations and its lands came under an independent Presidency of the Company and was responsible directly to London. Though the Company's rights to trade in the region of Bengal were granted by the Emperor at Delhi, they had to make trade agreement with the local Nawob (Original Governor). So the company had no right to mint on its own and, therefore to obtain current coin, it had to send its silver and gold to the regional mint and pay the standard duties and mint charges. The East India Company, prior to 1757 had to depend on the Murshidabad Mint from where it got the coins minted from the gold and silver supplied by them under the authority of the Nawob of Bengal.Further, the company relied on the Seths (Hindu business people) at Murshidabad and consequently such arrangement had some holes and caused them anxiety because of delay in delivering coins on time and, the business men at Murshidabad, made the best of their predicament by taking business advantage over the Company’s deal with the mint there.
|1757 British first struck coins in Calcutta mint. 1765 Clive took Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from Badsha Alam II ( Delhi) amaderkolkatashohor.blogspot.com|
|The first East India Company's mint was located in a building next to the Black Hole in the old fort –Fort William...puronokolkata.com|
|Rupee 1849 proof- East India Company.jindalbullion.blogspot.com|
The Calcutta mint carried out changes to the Mint’s name struck on its coins. Its first issues, released in April 1757, bore the mint name A’linagar Kalkatta; then from July in the same year changed to simply Kalkutta. Upon the East India Company becoming the appointed Diwan of Bengal in 1765, their mint at Calcutta began to use the name of the capital, Murshidabad, making its coins very much similar in every respect to those from Murshidabad itself. Real identity of a coin caused some confusion over the mint that produced that particular coin. Confusion over the identity of mint lasted till 1777 when the mint at Murshidabad was closed, and for a time the Calcutta mint was the only mint in operation.
The second Mint located at the Bankshall, opposite to the western entrance of St. John’s Church was opened with better machinery brought in 1790 from England. The site chosen was part of Gillet Ship building Establishment, one of the docks from which several cargo ships were launched.The Governor General engaged on 21 July, 1790 the services of two Bengal Army engineers, Lieutenants Golding and Humphries, to oversee the construction of the machinery for the Calcutta mint and other ensuing mints to be established. It is believed the new minting machinery, cast at the local Arsenal was still based on the hand operated screw principle. The Calcutta website states that the new machinery came from England and might have been mistaken for the nineteen presses purchased from Boulton in 1796.
The advantage of the new machinery was the new presses allowed for the first time a complete impression of the die on each coin. The fixed AH year 1202 (AD 1787-1788) was used on the new first issues of the new coins but later AH date was omitted altogether.
Few years later, the Calcutta Mint on the Gillet’s dockyard in 1829 began its operation in a new mint built on the Strand street and, as for old Mint, Messrs. Moran & Co., Indigo brokers took its control.
The new coin production that began in 1835, had the head of King William IV - an important change from the traditional Indian coin with Persian legends on both sides. Calcutta began striking silver in September, then gold and copper from December. The other major mints at Bombay (gold and silver only) and Madras (copper only) did not begin production until 1837. The application of a frozen date, 1835, on the new coins was retained.
|Copper one quarter Anna Coin of King Edward VII OF Calcutta Mint ....www.ebay.in|
Prior to that these denominations had been struck in Britain. At the end of the war the master tools from Calcutta were sent to the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint where they were used to produce the first bronze coin struck in Australia in 1919.
After the opening of Government of India Mint at Alipore on 19 March 1952, the building of the Old Silver Mint fell into neglect and was in a poor state. It is quite pathetic the historical and heritage value of not only Calcutta mint buildings, but also scores of monuments across India is not given due credit. There are currently plans afoot to restore the building and open it as a museum.
Pridmore, F 1980, The coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations to the end of the reign of
George VI, 1952. Part 4: India. Vol.2, Uniform coinage East India Company, 1835-58, Imperial period, 1858-1947, Spink & Son, London
Thurston, Edgar 1893, Note on the history of the East India Company coinage from...