History of coins

COINS

The history of The East India Company and coinage dates from 1601, when, with a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I, it’s first ships set sail to the east with cargoes of heavy cloths and £6,000 of specially minted silver coins featuring the emblem of the Queen.

As its reach expanded over the centuries, The Company’s coinage became the foundation of trade across the emerging Empire in the east. The only company to acquire the right to issue its own coins, it created the currency system in India which was to last until Independence in 1947.

Much of its history has been captured in the immortal designs of its coins. These coins tell the story of how a band of merchants created a company that far exceeded the sum of their ambitions, uniting distant markets and building and sustaining an empire.

1601 - 'PORTCULLIS MONEY'

On the instruction of Queen Elizabeth I, The Royal Mint struck £6,000 worth of silver ‘testern’ coins, nicknamed Portcullis Money specifically for The East India Company’s very first voyage in 1601. Loaded on the Company’s ships they were Britain’s first coins struck solely for trade.

1640 - 'MADRAS MINT'

The East India Company established its first mint at Fort St George in the Madras Presidency. It received a grant from the King of Chandragiri to mint under licence in local styles.

1657 - ST HELENA


The East India Company is awarded the right to fortify the Island of St Helena – a vital refuelling port for all EIC ships sailing to the East it was to become an important strategic port for all ships of the British Empire.

1663 - FIRST GUINEA STRUCK

Weighing 0.27 troy ounces, with a nominal value of £1, over the next 150 years, the Guinea was the main gold coin circulating in Britain and its Vast Empire travelling the world on The East India Company ships.

1671 - MOSES MOCATTA MOVES TO LONDON

Moses Mocatta moves from Amsterdam to London, establishing the oldest member of the London bullion market Mocatta & Goldsmid (now Bank of Nova Scotia).

1672 - 'BOMBAY MINT'

One of the oldest mints in India, the first mint in Bombay was set up by The East India Company’s Governor Gerald Aungier, for the coinage of rupees, pies and bajruks and the first Bombay Mint rupee was coined in 1672. It remains today as the India Government Mint in Mumbai

1676 MOCATTA EIC PARTNERSHIP

Mocatta used the East India Company and formed a partnership shipping gold to India. EIC gold leads to the building of purpose built vault in the Bank of England, establishing London as on of the world’s leading bullion markets.

1717 -THE COMPANY'S FIRST BOMBAY RUPEE

Emperor Farrikhsiyar granted the Company the right to mint the first East India Company rupee coins in the Mughal style. These Mughal style rupee coins were struck at the Bombay Mint from 1717 until the unification of coinage in India in 1835.

1757 - CALCUTTA MINT

The East India Company establishes the Calcutta mint following the Battle of Plassey, securing from the Nawab of Benghal the authority to strike gold and silver coins at their own mint in the style of the local issues from Murshidabad.

1765 – 'SICCAS' AND 'MOHURS'

Emperor Shah Alam II appoints the East India Company as the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa – the right to collect revenue and settle civil judicial cases - and the Calcutta Mint begins striking coins under its own authority.

1807 - MODERNISING THE MADRIS

New machinery from introduced new machinery and started to mint machine struck coins including mohur and rupee and copper cash in the European style and large quantities.

1821 - ST HELENA HALF PENNY

The first local coins are introduced to St Helena, over 700.000 coins were produced in Birmingham to be shipped to St Helena. Intended for use by the local population, greatly increased following the exile of Napoleon to the island, they arrived after he had died and most of the garrison had left.

1835 

King William IV introduces a Uniform coinage across all the colonies. In India, The East India Company adopts the gold Mohur as its principle gold coin along with the silver rupee and copper annas. Each coin featured the effigy of the King on the obverse.

1840 - QUEEN VICTORIA MOHUR

Following the death of King William in 1837, making his niece Victoria Queen. By 1840 the Mohur was issued with her effigy along with copper annas, pice, and rupees.

1874 - THE COMPANY IS DISSOLVED

The Crown directly appoints the governor-general, or viceroy in India. The Company itself was formally dissolved by Act of Parliament in 1874. Thus began the British Raj, direct imperial rule of India by the British state.

2010 - THE EAST INDIA COMPANY IS REBORN

The East India Company is re-established as a luxury multi-faceted brand once again trading in tea, coffees and fine foods. To celebrate The Company mints a limited edition series of Gold Mohur medals featuring the iconic Lion and Palm Tree design, minted by The Royal Mint

2012 -  THE EAST INDIA COMPANY MINTS COINS ONCE AGAIN

The East India Company issues its very first Mohur and Guinea coins in partnership with the Issuing Authority of St Helena and with the Royal Approval of Queen Elizabeth II in extremely limited numbers.

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