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Sunday, 23 October 2011

46) 50 paise coin: The lowest denomination coin presently in circulation: Is it next on the Chopping Block?

46) FIFTY PAISE COIN : THE LOWEST DENOMINATION COIN PRESENTLY IN CIRCULATION;
 IS IT NEXT ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK ?

With the recent demonetization of the 25 paise coins, the spotlight is next on the 50 paise coin which is now the lowest denomination coin in circulation in India. Whenever a monetary transaction takes place, in shopping malls, provision stores, with vegetable vendors etc. it has become common practice for rounding off the bills to the nearest rupee.( For example, if the expense comes to say 125.50 ,as per practice, this would be rounded off to the next rupee, say Rs.126.00, and you would have to shell out the extra 0.50 paise or if the expense comes to Rs.125.45, no one would ask you for a 0.50 paise, but would simply scale down the bill to Rs.125.00). 
In other words, inflationary costs and usage practices have almost taken out the fifty paise coin from our wallets. I was surprised to see that the new one rupee coin which has come into circulation during 2011 has been reduced to the size of the fifty paise coin. In other words, there are enough indications that the 50 paise coins are being steadily “ignored” as a coinage of value and due to its waning purchasing power, the most in danger of being demonetized by Reserve Bank of India and go the way of the smaller denomination coins of Independent India.

Unlike India, however, the United States of America, faced with a similar problem, instead of demonetizing their smaller denomination coinage and taking them out of circulation because their coinage represented a part of their history, (particularly, people, places and events which  had played significant roles in shaping their country’s history and evolution/development), chose a novel way to revitalize interest in their smaller denomination coinage, if not in value at least as collector’s interest items.

They came up with the “Westward Journey series” for their nickels and other programmes for their dimes, quarters “State Commemorative quarters”, America and the Beautiful Quarters” and even one dollars with their “Past Presidents” ,and “Native Indian” programmes, which repopularised interest in their smaller denomination coins , some of which even went in for design changes. 

Depicting famous Americans/Events from History, (Thomas Jefferson (nickel), Abraham Lincoln (cent), George Washington (quarters), Roosevelt (dimes), they have resisted all attempts to demonetize their smaller denomination coins, notwithstanding the debate, whether their “small “coins should be phased out. (I remember that I was appalled as a coin collector when someone picked out two Abraham Lincoln cents from his wallet at Heathrow Airport and simply threw them on the ground as entirely worthless – notwithstanding the fact that it contained an image of Lincoln). 
Even in Malaysia, the Monetary Authority  (Bank Negara Malaysia) was loathe to withdraw the 1 sen coins from circulation as they represented a musical instrument which is an integral part of their culture – the “Tambourine” or the “Rebana Ubi”. They came up with another novel idea – they would not demonetize the 1 sen coin, but would not mint any more coins of the same denomination, and the existing one sen coins could still be used in transactions of upto 2 Malaysian dollars.

But, there was a time, when the fifty paise coin was in its prime. I remember, that, when I was studying in La Martiniere College, Lucknow, (oldest college in India, established in 1840) in the 1970s, our College canteen would give us a veg. bun tack for 20 paise, so you could buy two buns and a plate of pakoras for a whole 50 paise or one could have a bun tack and a cold drink and have some change left over. Also, one could go to a famous restaurant in Hazratganj, Lucknow and have a masala dosa for 30 paise, a cup of coffee for 10 paise and proudly proclaim to the waiter “Keep the change”.  When the restaurant raised the price of a masala dosa to 35 paise in 1973, we protested, because, our weekly pocket money was only 2 rupees, given out by the house-master.

Here is the story/pictorial depiction of the journey of the 50 paise coin from the time when it was considered a coin of great value till today:

During the British India period, one rupee consisted of 16 annas or 64 paise. The three bigger denominations were one rupee (16 annas), half rupee (8 annas) and quarter rupee (four annas). All these coins were made of 0.917 silver. 

I am giving below obverse and reverse side images of a half-rupee silver coin minted in 1933 during the reign of George V at Calcutta (present day Kolkata) mint:



During the time of World War II (1938-1945), the price of silver became exorbitant and people started hoarding silver coins, therefore, in 1940, to keep the cost of production economical, as well as discouraging hoarding of silver coins for their silver content, the composition of all these three coins was reduced to 0.500 silver, (called a Quaternary alloy containing 50% silver, 15.5% copper,16.5% zinc and 18% cadmium). Obverse and reverse side images of a quaternary silver coin issued in 1944 during the reign of George VI by the Lahore mint, then functioning under the Reserve Bank of India:



  In 1947, when India became independent, all these three denominations were minted in pure nickel only.

The frozen series : 1947-1950 : (Please see my post on this blog  for a detailed perspective on this phase).
This was a transition phase, during which the British period currency was continued, but fresh coins under the ‘Regal issues’ were not issued. Also, the term “half-rupee” was continued for the “eight anna” coins.


 The “India Government Series” or the “Anna series”: 1950-1956 : (please refer my detailed blog post on this phase).
The same values were continued for all the coins , except that the King George VI’s portrait was replaced on the Obverse side  by the Lion Capital taken from the emblem of Emperor Asoka , which was now the symbol of Sovereignty (or Coat-of- Arms) of the Government of India. Because this series still followed the Anna system, the term “half rupee” or “8 annas” was continued.

Given below are images (obverse and reverse) of a half-rupee coin issued by the Government of India in 1950:

The Indian coinage Act 1957 brought about necessary amendments to the Indian Coinage Act 1906, and replaced the “Anna series” with the “Decimal coinage” or the metric system. The one rupee now consisted of 100 paise, as against the earlier 64 paise or 16 annas. Accordingly, the “fifty paise” coin now consisted of ‘50 paise’ instead of the ‘32’ paise of the earlier half-rupee.

Pure nickel series (1960 – 1971)

During this period both the anna series of coins as well as the decimal coinage continued to be used. Thus, 50 naye paise coins were introduced during this period for the first time in India in 1960 onwards till 1971 having their composition as “pure nickel”. 

 Obverse of a 50 naye paise coin issued in 1963.



Reverse of a 50 naye paise coin issued in 1963. Notice that the words "Naye Paise" (New Paise) is mentioned below the numeral 50 in Hindi indicating the Reserve Bank of India's concern that there should be no confusion between the currency in vogue and the newly introduced decimal series coinage. At the top periphery of the coin is mentioned the inscription "Rupiye ka aadha bhaag"(half portion of a rupee). 

Also, notice the diamond mint mark below the year of issue, indicating that this coin is a Mumbai Mint issue.



Obverse of a 50 naye paise coin issued in 1964 . 

 Reverse of a 50 Paise coin issued in 1964. Notice that by this time, the coinage issued under the decimal series had more or less stabilised therefore only the words "pachhas paise" in Hindi are mentioned on this coin, however, at the top periphery of the coin is mentioned the inscription "Rupiye ka aadha bhaag"(half portion of a rupee).

There is no mint mark on this coin, indicating that this is a Calcutta (present day Kolkata) mint issue.

Commemorative coins:

Two commemorative coins in the 50 paise denomination were issued during this period.

One was on Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian Nation and the other was on Nehru who was the first Prime Minister of India.




Reverse of the above coin, showing the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi facing left and his name spelt out in both Hindi and English and his life years 1869-1948 mentioned below his portrait.


Obverse of the coin on Mahatma Gandhi, with the Lion Capital in the centre and the words “Bharat” and “paise” in Hindi and “India” and “paise” in English on the periphery and the numeral “50” below the Lion Capital. Notice that the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always prevails) does not find a mention below the Lion Capital as it was introduced to Indian coinage as well as it became an integral part of the symbol of Sovereignty of the Indian Government only in the 1980s.



Obverse of the coin on Jawaharlal Nehru having the same features as the above coin.



Reverse of the above coin, showing Nehru facing left and his life years 1889-1964 mentioned below the portrait.

Cupro-nickel series (1972-1990):

The composition of the fifty paise coins was changed to cupro-nickel owing to inflation and uneconomical costs of minting the coin in pure nickel.


Obverse of a coin commemorating the 25 years of Indian Independence. It shows the Lion Capital in the centre, with the words “Bharat” and “India” in Hindi and English mentioned on the upper periphery and “paise” written in Hindi and English on the lower periphery. The numeral “50” below the Lion Capital denoting the denomination of the coin.


Reverse of the above coin, depicting a couple in traditional Indian clothes (Kurta-Pajamas for the man and a sari for the woman) holding aloft the Indian Flag with an image of the Indian Parliament in the background. The words ‘Pacchiswin Swatantray Jayanti” is mentioned in Hindi. There is no place on the coin to write the words in English, which would otherwise have been “Celebration of 25 years of Independence”. The Independence years 1947-1972 are also mentioned below the pictorial depictions. 

This is the next coin in my collection which has a social theme or civic responsibility. The focus of various Government policies, reflected on quite a few coins of that period issued during the first few decades of Independence, was on attaining self-sufficiency in Food production ans providing housing/shelter to all citizens of India, especially the Economically weaker sections. This coin was one of the first few in proclaiming the message of growing more food.



The reverse of the coin minted in 1973 shows a Tablet, in the nature of an Emperor Asoka Edict (an Edict is a public decree or Proclamation by an Authority), and the focus is on “Adhik Aann Ugao” in Hindi and “Grow More Food” in English. The Edict Tablet is flanked on both sides by two ears of wheat  as a symbolic representation of this message.


The obverse of this coin issued in 1973 shows the Lion Capital, beneath which the numeral “50” is given, denoting the coin value, with the words “Bharat” and “paise” in Hindi  on the one flank , and “India” and “paise in English on the other flank of the Lion Capital.



Obverse of a coin minted during this period in 1976. It looks exactly like the one-rupee coin issued from 1975-1982, but is much smaller in size. It shows the Lion Capital in the centre and the words “Bharat” in Hindi and “India” in English on the periphery.



Reverse of a fifty paise coin issued by Mumbai mint. Notice the diamond mint mark below the year of issue 1976.Also mentioned are the words “paise” in Hindi and English on top and there is a pattern at the bottom of the coin.




Reverse of a fifty paise coin minted in 1977, exhibiting the same features as above, also minted at Mumbai mint.



Obverse of the coin after the death of Indira Gandhi, ( Prime Minister after Lal Bahadur Shastri and daughter of Nehru – but no relation to Mahatma Gandhi ), in 1984 with the Lion Capital in the centre and the words “Bharat” and “paise” in Hindi and “India” and “paise” in English on the periphery and the numeral “50” below the Lion Capital. Notice that the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always prevails) now find a mention below the Lion Capital as it was introduced to Indian coinage as well as it became an integral part of the symbol of Sovereignty of the Indian Government in the 1980s.



Reverse of the above coin on Indira Gandhi, showing her profile and her name, as well as her life years 1917-1984.



Obverse of a  fifty paise coin showing an intricate border pattern, also  minted in 1984 by the Mumbai mint showing the Lion Capital with the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always prevails) below it and the words “Bharat” in Hindi and “India” in English on the sides of the Lion Capital, but inside the intricate border design.


Reverse of the above coin showing the same intricate design on the border, within which is an elongated numeral “50” indicating the denomination of the coin along with the words “paise” mentioned in both Hindi and English. The year of issue is mentioned as 1984, with the “diamond” mint mark, indicating that the coin was issued by the Mumbai mint.

Reverse of a 50 paise coin minted in South Korea in 1985, having the 5-pointed star mint mark below the first numeral of the year of issue.



Obverse of the coin issued on 6th World Food Day ( i.e. 16th October 1986) celebrating the call of the Food and Agricultural Organisation  (FAO) World Wide, to focus on /highlight the importance of Agriculture and allied activities for providing food for all. The coin shows the Lion Capital in the centre and the words “Bharat” and “paise” in Hindi and “India” and “paise” in English on the periphery and the numeral “50” below the Lion Capital. Notice that the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always prevails).




The reverse of the coin as above, showing two fishermen rowing over a water-body, and catching fishes with their fishing nets. The words “FAO” below the boat symbolizes the fact that the World Food day is being celebrated under the aegis of the FAO. The year of issue 1986 is on the top of the coin, below which is the Mumbai mint mark – “diamond”.
Production of coins in this series continued till 1990.

Ferritic stainless steel series ( 1988 onwards) :

In 1988, Ferritic Stainless Steel (FSS)coins were introduced because of rising inflation and minting costs. Also, the Noida mint became operational in 1988 and began minting of FSS coins which were also procured from Ottawa mint, Canada in 1988.




Obverse of the coin minted at Ottawa mint, Canada in 1988. It shows the Lion capital in the centre,with the words “Satyameva Jayate”(Truth Always Prevails) in fine print below the Lion Capital, below which is the numeral “50” indicating the denomination of the coin. The words “Bharat” and “India are on the two sides along with the word “paise” in both Hindi and English.





Reverse of the above coin showing the new design with the map of India in the background and the Indian Parliament in the foreground. On the top right-hand side are the words “Bharat” and “India” in Hindi and English. The year 1988 is at the bottom together with the Ottawa mint mark “c” below the year of issue.





Reverse of a 50 paise coin minted at Kolkata mint in 1989. There is no mint mark below the year of issue.



Reverse of a coin minted at Noida mint in 1990. Notice the dot mint mark below the year of issue.



Reverse of a 50 paise coin minted at Mumbai mint in 1991. There is a “diamond” mint mark below the year of issue, which is indicative of a Mumbai mint issue




Reverse of a coin issued in 1992 at Mumbai mint.



Reverse of a 1994 coin minted at Noida mint, showing the “dot” mint mark below the year of issue.




Reverse of a 1995 issue from Mumbai mint.(Diamond mint mark below the year of issue).




Reverse of a coin minted in 1996 at Noida mint . (Dot mint mark below the year of issue).



Reverse of a  50 paise coin minted by Mumbai mint in 1997.(Diamond mint mark)

In 1997 , on the occasion of 50 years of Indian Independence, the Monetary authority came out with a fifty paise Ferritic Stainless Steel coin (FSS).




The reverse of this coin shows Mahatma Gandhi leading the Dandi March (breaking the British Salt tax laws), a rallying event which became a symbolic Act for the Civil Disobedience movement all over India and ultimately culminating in India achieving its independence. The words ‘Swatantrata ka Pachaswan Varsh” are mentioned in Hindi and 50th year of Independence” in English. The years 1947-1997 are also mentioned. The "dot" mint mark over the hyphen between the years mentioned on this face indicates that this coin is a Noida mint issue.






Reverse of a coin minted by Mumbai mint in 1998.(Diamond mint mark).



Reverse of a 50 paise issue from Mumbai mint in 1999. (Diamind mint mark).



Reverse of a 50 paise coin issued from Hyderabad mint in 2000. Notice the “Star” mint mark below the year of issue.



Reverse of a 2001 issue from Noida mint (Dot mint mark).



Reverse of a fifty paise coin issued in 2002 from Mumbai mint (Diamond mint mark).



Reverse of a coin issued in 2003 from Mumbai mint.



Reverse of a 50 paise issue from Noida mint in 2007. (Dot mint mark)

Design change: 

In 2008 and 2009, there was a design change , when the fifty paise coin joined the troika of three different denomination coins with their denominations being depicted by a dancer’s hand . The “clenched fist” was depicted on the reverse of the fifty paise coin, while the one rupee coin was depicted by a thumbs up sign and the two rupee coin was depicted by two raised fingers in a “V” sign.The obverse of all these three denominations was also revised.



Obverse of a 50 paise coin issued in 2008 by the Noida mint. It looks like a Globe with two lines going across at approx. the same distance corresponding to the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Above the line on top are the words “Bharat” in Hindi and “India” in English. In between the two lines is the Lion Capital symbol of the Government of India, with the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth Always Prevails). Below the bottom line is the year of issue 2008 and the “Dot” mint mark of Noida mint.




Obverse of a 50 paise coin issued at Mumbai mint in 2009 exibiting the same style as in the coin above, but having a “Diamond” mint mark below the year of issue.

Obverse of a 50 paise coin issued at Kolkata mint in 2010 exibiting the same style as in the coin above, but having no mintmark below the year of issue.



Reverse of the above two coins with the numeral “50” and the words “paise” in Hindi and English, as well as the clenched fist pictorial depiction of a fifty paisa coin.

Posted on 13.11.12: 



The above is a scan of the obverse of a 50 paise coin issued in 2011. The unique feature of this coin is that it has become much smaller in size and resembles the 25 paise coins which have since gone out of circulation.

The reverse of the above 50 paise coin issued in 2011. It has paise mentioned in Hindi on the top periphery follwed by the numeral "50" below it. Farther below is the word "Paise" in English. The year of issue "2011" is mentioned on the lower periphery of the coin. two Lotus stems with flowers in full bloom and buds on either flank, which is the hallmark of the uniformity in designs of the one , two and five rupee coins issued in this series is seen on this coin.

This coin is issued by the Mumbai Mint which is indicated by the Mumbai Mint "Diamond" mint mark below the year of issue.

I have not come across any 2012 issues of the fifty paise coins, indicating that perhaps it is the end of the road for these little circular beauties and the Monetary authority’s axe may fall anytime on its circulation. 

Perhaps the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities Printing and Minting Corporation of India could come up with some plans to save and popularise this denomination, as the US Mint has done for its penny, dime and quarter coins , if not for its value, at least for Collector’s interest. 

Posted on 26.03.2014:

I was pleasantly surprised to collect this fifty paise coin during my recent trip to Chennai. This little round coin is fighting hard against all odds for its survival. It is the only paise coin in circulation now. After a gap of one year this denomination has been released in 2013 and is still circulating in places like Chennai, where payments are not being rounded off to the nearest rupee.



6 comments:

  1. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented on 14.11.12
    "Thanks for sharing such a very interesting information which is always overlooked by the possessor as the saying goes "Ati parichayat avadnya".

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is very true. In the humdrum of daily life, we do not have time to look at the amount of artwork and effort that coin designers/engravers put in to bring out these beautiful pieces at various Indian mints. I have only recently started looking at them very carefully and appreciating their work when I started my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Suresh Dixit has commented on 14/11/2011:
    "Even a rupee coin is not bigger than the chavanni"

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's true.A rupee coin issued in 2011 and 2012 is much smaller than the fifty paise coins minted in the 1970s and the fifty paise coin now resembles a twenty-five paise coin.The fifty paise coins issued in 2011 are not readily available in circulation because of their vastly diminished value. It is possible that this denomination may also get demonetised, because of the escalating cost of minting coins of smaller denomination.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a large number of India Coins i have collected over the years, how can i determine if any have value.? is there a list of them showing the coin , mintage , and value?

    ReplyDelete
  6. One of the best methods to guage a value of a coin is to go to a site like ebay, where you can get a fair assessment of the amount investors are willing to pay for a coin. For a list of coins, both the India Government Mint websites at Kolkata and Mumbai have a list of Commemorative coins issued by them together with the year of issue. This list also corresponds with that of circulating coins issued at the same time. These lists are not very comprehensive, but are a good start. For more comprehensive details on individual coins in your collection , you could check out the Krause and Michler website which is considered a Standard guide for World coins including those issued in India (KM numbers are allotted to each World coin).

    ReplyDelete