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Saturday, 8 June 2013

103) Celebrating 60 years (Diamond Jubilee) of India Government Mint, Kolkata:



103) Celebrating 60 years (Diamond Jubilee) of India Government Mint, Kolkata:

The prevailing scenario before the setting up of the First East India Company Mint at Calcutta (present day Kolkata, India):

The East India Company settlement at Calcutta was established on 24.08.1690, its factory fortified in 1696 and a major fort named after King William III was set up in 1700.

In 1701, Murshid Kuli Khan was the Finance Minister of the Mughal Empire in Bengal charged with the responsibility of collecting revenue, expenditure of public money and administration of justice.

In 1704, Murshid Kuli Khan became the Deputy Governor of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. He moved his capital to Muxadavad which he renamed as “Murshidabad” after himself.

Although the Mughal Empire was declining and breaking up, and its Governors who were heading various regions were becoming independent, the coins were still being issued in the name of the Mughal Emperor and were dated according to the years of his rule.

In 1715, the Company’s lands in Bengal were declared an independent Presidency of the Company, directly responsible to London.

The Company’s rights to trade in the region were derived from the Mughal Emperor, but by now had become dependent on an uneasy agreement with the Governor who had declared himself as the Nawab, independent of the Mughal Empire.

At this juncture the East India Company had no rights to mint its own coins and was sending its gold and silver to the Murshibabad Mint where it was struck into coins after paying standard duties and mint charges.

In 1756, Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah of the Mughal province of Bengal captured the East India Company stronghold, “Fort William” and renamed Calcutta as “Alinagar”.

On 02.01.1757, Robert Clive recaptured the Fort defeating Siraj-ud-Daulah who on 07.02.1757, was forced to agree to giving the East India Company the right to establish its own mint and issue silver and gold coins (“siccas” and “asharfis”/ “mohurs”) struck on the standard of the Murshidabad Mint.

These coins were permitted to be circulated in the region (Bengal, Bihar and Orissa) without incurring any additional expenses.

Setting up of the First East India Company Mint in Calcutta and its functions:

From 1757-1791, accordingly, the First East India Company Mint, called the “Alinagar-Calcutta” Mint was set up in a building next to the infamous “Black Hole” in the old Fort (at the location where the General Post Office – GPO – is presently situated).

On 04.04.1757, the first Calcutta rupee minted by the East India Company at the Calcutta Mint was brought out, followed by 4000 more silver strikes but these coins were not circulated.

Before the appointment/arrival of an Assay Master and machinery from Europe, the assistance of coin makers/Assayers from the Murshidabad Mint was taken. Jagat Seth, one of the leading shroffs of the Murshidabad Mint, acted as the Assayer and affirmed the fineness of the bullion and the correctness of the weight of coins before circulation.

After the Battle of Plassey and Siraj-ud-Daulah’s murder, Mir Jafar was made the Ruler of Bengal. He ratified the “sanad” (permission) given by Siraj-ud-Daulah to the East India Company on 15.07.1757 and confirmed the Company’s rights to mint coins on behalf of the Mughal Empire. For the first time, a formal documentation of the authorisation was issued.

By 28.07.1757, about 40,000 siccas were struck. However all these coins had stayed in the Mint’s vaults and were not circulated.

On 29.08.1757, in terms of the new “Sanad”, the siccas minted at the Calcutta Mint which had undergone the rigorous formalities concerning their mintage at Calcutta became legal tender in the provinces of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and were issued for general circulation.

Interestingly, the first silver coin minted by the Calcutta Mint is kept as an exhibit in the British Museum while the first gold mohur struck at the mint is reportedly in the collection of a foreign numismatist.

Until 1765 each new Nawab signed a Treaty with the East India Company continuing this authorisation to mint and circulate coins.

On 12.08.1765, the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II appointed the East India Company to the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. In effect, the coins struck at Calcutta Mint which were hitherto in the name of the Mughal Emperor under the authority of the Nawab, were now to be issued under the authority of the East India Company.

The coins struck at Calcutta Mint were based on the Mughal issues from Murshidabad. The rupee was 0.98 fine silver. Each rupee was subdivided into 16 annas with each anna being further sub-divided into 12 pice and was equivalent to one Bengal “sicca”.  Each coin bore the “AH” date and a julus date (“san” or “sun”) denoting the number of years the Emperor had reigned.

The Calcutta mint also made changes to the mint name it struck on its coins. The first issues brought out in April 1757 bore the name “Alinagar-Calcutta”. But coins struck from July onwards, were struck with “Kalkutta” only. After 1765, when the East India Company was appointed to the Diwani of Bengal, the Mint changed the name to “Murshidabad”, making its coins identical in every way to those issued from the Murshidabad Mint.

On 29.05.1777, the Calcutta Mint was authorised to use the 19th year permanently. The 19 san sicca coinage showed each new AH year.

Setting up of the Second East India Company Mint:

In 1790, a second Calcutta mint was set up at the site of the Gillet ship Building establishment which became fully functional by 1792.

Two Bengal Army engineers Lieutenants Golding and Humphries were charged with the supervision of construction and installation of machinery at the new Calcutta Mint site. The New minting machinery (still based on the hand operated screw principle) was made at the Calcutta mint with frames cast at the Arsenal.

In August 1792, based on the recommendations of the Calcutta Mint Committee:

-      After 10.04.1794, only the “san 19” sicca rupees were to be received in public treasuries and holders of any other coins were required to submit their coins to the Treasuries and have them converted into sicca rupees.

-      The coins issued by the Dacca, Patna Murshidabad and Calcutta Mints were to be identical in every respect and had to be milled.

-      The Hegira year was to be omitted from the coins and only “San 19” coins were to be issued.

The first three mints were making weekly reports to the Calcutta Mint, hence they were considered as Branch Mints of the Calcutta Mint. Later, the Patna Mint closed on 31.12.1796, the Dacca mint closed on 31.12.1797, and the Murshidabad mint closed in 1799.

In 1796, nineteen more manual cork and screw presses were purchased from Mathew Boulton’s Soho Mint, Birmingham, England. At the Calcutta Mint modern coins with milled edges began to get struck.

The new presses permitted for the first time to engrave a complete impression of the die on each coin. The fixed AH year 1202 (AD 1797-1788) was used on the new issues but approval was obtained to drop the AH date altogether.

 In 1808, the East India Company again took quotes from Soho for two steam operated mints each capable of striking 1000000 coins a week, one for the Calcutta Mint and the other for the Madras Mint. This proposal was shelved.

 In 1820, Lieutenant William Nain Forbes of the Bengal Engineers was deputed to Birmingham to purchase a steam powered mint for Calcutta. The new Mint was capable of producing 200000 rupee coins a day.

By March 1821, a division of orders for the steam engines, coining and cutting out presses, drawbench, melting furnaces etc for the new mint had been established with Boulton, Watt and Company shipping most of the equipment to Calcutta by 1823.

This Mint was taken over by the Stamps and Stationary Committee in 1833.

No trace/remnants of the first two mints exist today on the ground and they are now consigned only to the history books.

Setting up of the Third East India Company Mint:

 The Foundation stone of the third Calcutta Mint was laid in March 1824 and it became operational from 01.08.1829.It is located at Strand Road facing the Hooghly, near the towering Howrah Bridge and is now known as the "Old Silver Mint".

By 1830, the “new Calcutta Mint” (now called the “Old Mint” or “Silver Mint”) was functioning at full capacity and striking silver, copper and gold coins. In fact, the first coins struck at this mint in 1830 were 1 pie coins, followed by silver coins which went into circulation by January 1831.

The silver mint opened in 1831

Till 1835, although the coins were issued by the East India Company, because the coins were minted in the name of the Murshidabad Mint, mint marks were not carried on the issues. This practice of not putting a Mint Mark on coin issues from the Calcutta (present day Kolkata)Mint continued even after the Standard coinage/Regal issues/Post Independence India issues even after 1835.

In 1835, with the implementation of the Standard Coinage Act, new coins with the head of King William IV were brought out in silver in September 1835 and gold and copper in December 1835. At this time, the Bombay Mint was producing only gold and silver coins, while, copper coins were being minted at the Madras Mint.

In 1860, a new set of mint buildings were being added to the north of the Calcutta Mint grounds. It was known as the Copper Mint which began operations in April 1865. However, as demand for copper coins was minimal at that time, it was temporarily closed down from 1866 to 1878

Later from 1889 to 1923, the Calcutta Copper Mint provided all copper and bronze coins for circulation in India, as the Madras mint had closed down and Bombay Mint was issuing only silver and gold coins.

 Both Silver Mint and Copper Mint functioned side by side. 

Between 1916 and 1918, during World War I, the Calcutta Mint was requisitioned to produce bronze penny and ½ penny coins for Australia. 

Both the Mints were well equipped with coin presses supplied by Boulton and Watt of Soha, Birmingham, England. Apart from coins, Calcutta Mint also made medals and decorations during the British Regime, a function which is continuing to the present day. In addition to domestic issue of coins, the Calcutta Mint issued coins for countries and estates both within and outside India.This mint was the first to successfully process pure nickel for coinage purposes in Asia.

The Mint was of great importance since it was one of the two Mints (the other being the Bombay Mint) producing silver coins which were in circulation at that time. As many as 300000 to 600000 silver coins were minted here daily. Gold, copper and bronze coins were also minted here apart from making medals.

The third Calcutta Mint: A heritage structure today:

The “Old Calcutta Mint” continued minting silver coins until 1952 when it was closed down as a Mint.

Thereafter, with coining operations shifting to the Fourth Calcutta Mint (presently the India Government Mint, Kolkata, at Alipore), it functioned as a silver refinery, where noble metal was extracted from batteries used by the Indian Air Force till 1972, when it was closed down finally and the silver reserves transferred to a new facility at Taratola in September 1985.



Its old and dilapidated building with its imposing frontage designed as a replica of the Temple of Minerva in Athens, still stands today. The operative blocks were hidden out of view by the magnificent frontage. The crumbling wall plaster and wild growth of foliage barely conceal the grandeur of the Grecian Doric columns of the Mint.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Culture (INTACH), West Bengal and a consortium of Firms led by D & F Group INC of the USA have collaborated together to restore the Old Mint’s heritage building including a large gallery, workshop, copper mint, silver mint etc and convert it into a coins and currency museum for tourism promotion and creating a suitable infrastructure around it for its continuous upkeep and maintenance. 

The fourth Calcutta Mint at Alipore (presently known as the India Government Mint, Kolkata) which is  a unit of the Securities Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL):

In the late 1930s, a new Mint was proposed to be built at Alipore for which the foundation work was completed in 1942. With the outbreak of World War II, this project came to a standstill. Later, after India gained Independence from the British in 1947, the project was taken up again and the Alipore Mint became fully functional on 19th March 1952 producing coins, medals, decorations and badges.

The Alipore Mint started operations with a minting capacity of about 1200000 (twelve lac) coins per eight hourly shifts. The coins of this period were known as “Anna” and “Pice” or Paise”.


The Alipore Mint has at various points of time has issued Nickel, Cupro-Nickel, Aluminium Bronze, Aluminium Magnesium, Bronze, Nickel Brass and Ferritic Stainless Steel coins the metal composition determined largely by the rising costs of input metals/materials. It has also been issuing Commemorative coins since inception which are sought after pieces by Collectors/Numismatists.

Modernisation of the Kolkata Mint at Alipore is a constant endeavour of the Mint Authorities to place the Mint facilities at par with the best in the World. This has led to installation of Induction Melting Furnaces, highly efficient continuous Casting plant, High Cold Rolling Mills, Strip Milling Machine, Annealing Furnaces, Blanking Presses, Picking and Polishing Lines, High Speed Coining Presses, Cutting Machines – used for cutting sheets of silver, nickel and gold coins, Filtration Machines used for filtering silver and other coins, Washing and Polishing Machines for coins , Drying machines for heating the Dies and drying the coins/medals etc, Blanking, counting and packing machines as well as latest computerised software is now available at the Alipore Mint.
The present daily average output of coins at the Alipore Mint is 5 to 6 million pieces. In addition to the domestic coinage, the Mint undertakes coinage orders from other countries. The Mint has also worked as a centre for issue of gold bars in exchange of unrefined gold tendered by licensed dealers. The Mint produces gold, silver, copper and nickel medals for defence, educational institutions, social service, badges, tokens and medallions for National and International film Festivals. It also makes medals for military and civilian awards including the Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Paramvir chakra, Mahavir chakra, Vir chakra, shaurya chakra etc.
Commemorative Coin issued by the India Government Mint, Kolkata:

Commemorative coins have been issued by the India Government Mint, Kolkata to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee (Sixty years) of the Alipore Mint. Both Proof and Uncirculated coins sets in the denomination of Rs.60/- and Rs.5/- have been issued. These coins were also made available by the India Government Mint, Kolkata as single coin souvenirs of Rs.60/- each.

I have received a Proof Coin set from the Kolkata Mint yesterday, within a week of close of Booking for these commemorative coins, which speaks volumes for the high levels of efficiency and standards that IGM Kolkata is striving to achieve in prompt delivery of coins booked and effecting prompt customer service.

 The details are as under:



The above is an image of the cover of the album of the Proof coins


The obverse of the two coins Rs.60/- and Rs.5/- as they appear on the Coin album.



The obverse of the Rs. 60/- coin. On the top centre is the Lion Capitol of Emperor Ashoka which is the emblem of the Government of India. The words “Satyameva Jayate” (coined by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya – meaning “Truth Always Prevails”). On the left periphery is mentioned “Bharat” in Hindi and on the right periphery is mentioned “India” in English. Below the Lion Capitol, on the bottom of the coin is mentioned the denomination of the coin “60”, preceded by the rupee symbol. 



The reverse of the Rs. 60/- coin. On the upper periphery is mentioned “Bharat Sarkar Taksal Kolkata ke 60 Varsh” in Hindi. On the lower periphery is mentioned “60 years of India Govt. Mint, Kolkata” in English. The emblem of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) of which the India Government Mint, Kolkata is a part of, and which is also the emblem of IGM Kolkata is placed in the centre top below the inscription in Hindi, below which is an image of the building of the Alipore Mint. Further below are mentioned the commemorative years “1952-2012”.

The specifications of this coin are:

Shape: Circular; Diameter: 39 mm (This is a smaller coin as against the regular commemorative coin issues of 44 mm); No. of serrations: 180 (as against 200 serrations on Commemorative coin issues of 44 mm); Weight: 22.5 gms; Metal Composition: Quaternary Alloy (Silver 50%, Copper 40%, Nickel 5% and Zinc 5%).



The obverse of the Rs. 5/- coin.  On the top centre is the Lion Capitol of Emperor Ashoka which is the emblem of the Government of India. The words “Satyameva Jayate” (coined by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya – meaning “Truth Always Prevails”) appear below the emblem. On the left periphery is mentioned “Bharat” in Hindi and on the right periphery is mentioned “India” in English. Below the Lion Capitol, on the bottom of the coin is mentioned the denomination of the coin “5”, preceded by the rupee symbol. 




The reverse of the Rs. 5/- coin. On the upper periphery is mentioned “Bharat Sarkar Taksal Kolkata ke 60 Varsh” in Hindi. On the lower periphery is mentioned “60 years of India Govt. Mint, Kolkata” in English. The emblem of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) of which the India Government Mint, Kolkata is a part of, and which is also the emblem of IGM Kolkata is placed in the centre top below the inscription in Hindi, below which is an image of the building of the Alipore Mint. Further below are mentioned the commemorative years “1952-2012”.

The specifications of this coin are:

Shape: Circular; Diameter: 23 mm; No. of serrations: 100; Weight: 6.0 gms; Metal Composition: Nickel Brass (Copper 75%, Zinc 20% and Nickel 5%).


 The above circulating coin has been contributed for my collection by Krishna Tonpe.

The obverse of the Rs. 5/- circulating coin issued by the Mumbai Mint.  On the top centre is the Lion Capitol of Emperor Ashoka which is the emblem of the Government of India. The words “Satyameva Jayate” appear below the emblem. On the left periphery is mentioned “Bharat” in Hindi and on the right periphery is mentioned “India” in English. Below the Lion Capitol, on the bottom of the coin is mentioned the denomination of the coin “5”, preceded by the rupee symbol.   


The reverse of the Rs. 5/- coin. On the upper periphery is mentioned “Bharat Sarkar Taksal Kolkata ke 60 Varsh” in Hindi. On the lower periphery is mentioned “60 years of India Govt. Mint, Kolkata” in English. The emblem of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) of which the India Government Mint, Kolkata is a part of, and which is also the emblem of IGM Kolkata is placed in the centre top below the inscription in Hindi, below which is an image of the building of the Alipore Mint. Further below are mentioned the commemorative years “1952-2012”. The "diamond" mint mark of the Mumbai mint appears below the years "1952-2012".

The specifications of this coin are:

Shape: Circular; Diameter: 23 mm; No. of serrations: 100; Weight: 6.0 gms; Metal Composition: Nickel Brass (Copper 75%, Zinc 20% and Nickel 5%).

Some titbits:

One of the earliest known coins to have been minted in India was during the time of Gautam Buddha in the 6th Century B.C. which was known as the “Panchmark” or the “coin having five faces”.

During the Mughal times, the silver coins were called the “dinars” and the gold coins were called “Mohurs” and “Asharfis”.

The term “rupee” is said to have originated from “raupiya”, meaning “silver” (coin). 

Posted on 14.03.2015:

A Commemorative Coin issued by the Hyderabad Mint, booked in August 2014, has been received by me today from the Mint.



The cover of the album on which is shown an image the Kolkata Mint as it stands today. On the top of the album is mentioned “Smarak Sikka” in Hindi and “Commemorative Coin” in English. Also mentioned on this cover is “Bharat Sarkar Kolkata ke 60 Varsh 1952-2012” (in Hindi) and “60 Years of India Government Mint Kolkata 1952-2012” (in English). The wide range of products including coins and Bharat Ratna and Acts of valour medals etc produced by the Kolkata Mint are displayed around the Mint Building facade.



On the second page of the album, inter alia, is a description of India Government Mint, Kolkata (1952-2012), which is as follows:

“The India Government Mint, Kolkata at Alipore was inaugurated by the Union Finance Minister, Sir C.D. Deshmukh on 19th March 1952. In 2006, the Government of india brought the Mint along with 8 units of Mints and Press under Securities Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd. (SPMCIL) which is wholly owned by the GOI. The Kolkata Mint is engaged in both Coinage and non-coinage activities. At present in Kolkata Mint the production of coins of various denominations is to the tune of 1600 million pieces per annum.

In non-coinage activity the Kolkata Mint produces Medals in precious metals like gold, silver, nickel, copper and their alloys. Kolkata Mint has been producing different Commemorative and development oriented coins for the last several decades. It has also worked as a centre for the issue of gold bars in exchange of unrefined gold tendered by licensed dealers. This Mint has also been producing medals of various types like the highest civilian medals like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padmashri, Gallantry Medals like Paramvir Chakra, Mahavir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Sena Medals for Defence, Medals for Ministry of Home Affairs, Commonwealth Games, Educational Institutions, Social Service etc.”



Obverse of the Rupees Five Commemorative coin. In the Centre is the Lion Capitol of Emperor Asoka with the legend “Satyameva Jayate” in Hindi meaning “Truth always Prevails” which is the emblem of the Government of India. On the left periphery is mentioned “Bharat” (in Hindi) and on the right periphery is mentioned “India” (in English). The denomination of the coin “Rs.5” is at the extreme bottom.





Reverse of the Rupees Five Commemorative coin. In the centre is an image of the present Kolkata Mint in Alipore. Below the image are the commemoration years “1952-2012”. On the upper periphery is mentioned “Bharat Sarkar Taksal, Kolkata ke 60 Varsh” in Hindi. On the lower periphery is mentioned “60 Years of India Govt. Mint, Kolkata” in English. Above this inscription is the “Star” mint mark of the Hyderabad Mint.

The specifications of this coin are:

Denomination: Rs. Five; Metal Composition: Alloy Ni-Brass; Copper: 75%, Zinc: 20%, Nickel: 5%; Dimensions: Diameter: 23 mm; Weight:6.00 gms.


7 comments:

  1. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented on 08.06.13:
    "It is very rare thing that Govt has taken out a Rs.60/- commemorative coin on a/c of Diamond Jubilee year of Kolkata Mint. Very interesting !
    10 hours ago"

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is indeed so. The more amazing part is that the Kolkata Mint has raised its levels of customer service to a very high standard and are trying to reach world class standards of Commemorative coins delivery. The Bookings for these coins closed on 31.05.13 and my coin set was delivered to me on 05.06.13.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have 5rupic 1952 to 2012 kolkata coin
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    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. Hi Parem,
      Please leave your email address and Mobile number, so that interested Readers who want to sell coins may be able to contact you.

      Delete
  5. I have 5rupic 1952 to 2012 kolkata coin
    I want to sell plz contct me . 7519353870 ,

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear sir i have a old coin 1rupes indicating diamond on coin from 1990 so any person interested call me 9870189060

    ReplyDelete