In December 1600, a group of wealthy merchants, under the name Governor and Company of Merchants in London trading with the East Indies, received from Elizabeth I a Royal Charter granting them a monopoly on trade with all countries east of The Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. In 1601, with the full support of the Queen, The East India Company set sail on its first voyage, commanded by Sir James Lancaster.
The design is inspired by Elizabeth I’s 7th issue Crown, and created in the style resembling the minting techniques of the time, the portrait faces the same direction as all of Elizabeth I coinage.
Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the era of the Stuarts was ushered in with the reign of James I of England. It was a time of gunpowder plots, The Divine Right of Kings and an insatiable appetite for money. James was an avid supporter of The East India Company.
In 1609, James I renewed The Company’s charter, extending its monopoly on trade for an indefinite period - so long as it remained profitable.
The design depicts the portrait of James I from his second coinage double crown, with armoured bust facing right, this coin is minted to reflect the effigy used on his coinage.
Under the reign of King Charles II, the right to take and rule territories, to mint money, to command fortresses, to build armies and ‘make peace and war’ was to become the basis for the future rule of the British in India. The marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza delivered The Company seven small islands, later to become the city of Bombay. In Britain tea drinking became fashionable and the start of a lucrative tea trade began.
The coin’s title makes reference to Charles II’s charter aimed at strengthening the power of The East India Company.
In the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, William III lost many of the customary rights held by previous English monarchs. He did, however, continue to possess direct control over Foreign Affairs as well as the Treasury and Armed Forces, including where and how British merchants could trade.
By 1694 the precious monopoly on trade with the East was deregulated, allowing any English company to trade with India, effectively putting The East India Company’s monopoly up for auction. A new ‘parallel’ company titled the English Company Trading to the East Indies emerged and was granted a Royal Charter.
This portrait of King William III is inspired by his 1695 Crown - second bust. Facing the same direction as his coinage and designed to reflect the minting techniques during his reign, the single row beading and lettering compliment the design.
In September 1702, Queen Anne issued a new charter in a move to unite the old and new Companies. It was to lead to the emergence of one stronger and United Company which was more financially secure. By 1708, both Companies had officially merged to form “The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies”, which was later to become commonly referred to as The East India Company. What was to follow during the next decades was a constant see-saw battle between The Company and Parliament, as the British government sought to restrict and control The Company’s growing power.
This portrait of Queen Anne is designed to reflect the portrait found on her 1704 Half Crown. Facing to the left, the detail on Anne’s coinage was often much cleaner than previous monarchs which is reflected in this design.
In India, Sir Robert Clive was tasked with defeating the Nawab of Bengal, Sirajud Daulahand and his French allies. In 1757 following the Black Hole of Calcutta incident, Clive triumphed at the Battle of Plassey, capturing the French fort, Chandanagar and securing Calcutta.
Considered the most important event in The Company’s history, it was a colossal vistory even though the battle only lasted 40 minutes. It secured Company Rule in Bengal, the richest of all presidencies laying the foundation for British rule in India.
The design is inspired by George II’s 1758 Shilling, this portrait is created to complement the style of the coins minted at the time. Again, facing in the same direction as his coinage, the beading and lettering reflects the fashion during his reign.
After the death of his father in 1760, George III was faced with a period of political instability. The Company’s new role in India after the Battle of Plassey meant it was drawn increasingly into politics. In Britain, The Company gained a reputation of corruption. Under George III, the first of The East India Company Regulating Acts was passed. Parliament and The Crown established substantial control.
This portrait of King George III is taken from the 1797 Cartwheel Penny, with the effigy facing to the right as found on the coinage of the Monarch.
Company Rule in India continued with an increasing centralisation of power. Parliamentary reform and the Industrial Revolution dominated William IV’s reign, with merchants searching for new markets with which to ply their machine-age goods. Open trade produced a widespread spirit of independence.
After significant social and political changes in England, the Charter Act of 1833 was introduced. The Act gave a new lease of life to The Company allowing it to continue to rule for another twenty years subject to the trust of the King.
This William IV portrait is taken from the 1835 Mohur Coin. Facing to the right, as found on his coinage the design features the same beading and lettering style found on the Lion and Palm Tree Mohur.
Victoria’s Parliament passed the Government of India Act of 1858 officially ending The East India Company’s role in India and transferring its assets and governance to the British crown. The British Empire was at the height of its power. Queen Victoria, Empress of India, ruled over countries stretched far around the globe, covering approximately one quarter of the world’s population.
This portrait of Victoria is taken from her beautiful Imperial Issue 1862 Mohur struck at the Calcutta Mint. The crowned bust effigy faces the same direction as the original. The portrait is surrounded by the intricate pattern found on the 1862 Mohur reverse.