Indian Coins at Spink – a Coram James Sales Report

Indian coins at Spink, London, 25th June

Robert Coram James shared with us a story of one of their clients, highlighting the value of Indian coins:

“Our [Coram James’] client went home a happy man after the Spink auction in London on 25th June. Having contacted us hoping that the Indian coins he had inherited were worth a few thousand pounds, he was somewhat surprised to be told we would estimate their value at over £40,0000, and utterly amazed when they actually sold for double this amount.

The star lots included the marvellous Ashvamedha horse sacrifice coin of the 4th century Gupta Emperor Samudragupta (lot 270). This is one of the most iconic coins of the whole Gupta series featuring a magnificent stallion and the Gupta queen dressed for the ceremony. This realised £8,000.

An equally interesting coin of Samudragupta depicting him playing a lyre sold for £3,200. However the Gupta section had more surprises in store when lot 275, a ‘lion-slayer’ type of Chandragupta II sold for double estimate at £5,000.

Coins from the Princely States also sold well, especially those from minor states who by virtue of their size had a limited mintage. One example of this phenomenon was lot 369, an early Mohur of Rewa state (now in Madya Pradesh). The somewhat illiterate English and crude Hindi legends it displays demonstrate the limitations of the engraver at the court mint in the early 19th century. However this unusual coin sold for the princely sum of £9,000.

A similarly imperfect, but little circulated, Nazarana Mohur of Cooch Behar sold for £7,500 (lot 338). Nazarana coins were struck for presentation by the ruler, and it is likely that this coin has never circulated as currency.

By contrast the coins of Mysore state issued by Tipu Sultan were noted for their perfect calligraphy. His father Haider Ali was a usurper who conquered the state from the incumbent royal family, so in order to make his mark Tipu invented his own dating system and coinage.  Lot 363, weighing 13.65g, is an example of a unique denomination of this series valued at Four Pagodas (a pagoda being a small gold coin valid all over south India).  It was struck at his capital Seringapatan (Patan for short). The intricate design equals anything the Mughals produced and despite the fact this coin had been used as jewellery at some point in it was well worth the £8,500 it achieved.”


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