Ancient India

History of Indian Currency

India has a glorious history of producing and minting coins over the ages. The uninscribed punch marked coins were probably minted from 6th century BC onwards. Among the earliest silver specimen are those in the shape of small bar, the largest of which sataman weighted 180 grains. The basic silver punch marked coin was Karsapana or pana of 57.8 grains, masa or masika weighted 1/16th of this. In the punch marked copper coins, a masa of 9 grains and a karshapana of 144 grains, quarter masas in copper or kakini were in circulation. In the Kushana period, the dinaras or suvarnas were based on the Roman Denarius and were of 124 grains. The copper coins were larger of from 26 to 28 masas or 240 to 260 grains.

The Satvahanas issued lead coins and potin with silver base coins. In Pre-Gupta and Gupta period the gold coins were called Dinaras derived from Kushanas with a weight of 144 grains. The silver coin was called Rupaka based on Sakas of Ujjaini weighing 32-36 grains. According to Fa-Hsien cowries were very common means of exchange.In Delhi Sultanate gold coins were called Tanka which were equivalent to the Greek drachm standard of 67 grains. The silver coins were called drama.

History of Indian Currency

The earliest gold issued in the name of Muzuddin Mohd Bin Sam with conventionalized usage of goddess lakshmi on the obverse and the name of the ruler in Nagari characters on the reverse.Thakuura Pheru under Mubarak Khilji left a valuable treatise written in Apabhramasa regarding exchange rate. Pure silver coins were extremely scarce and were prevalent only in Bengal.Ibn Batuta mentions that in 1330 80 rati tanka replaced silver tanka and cowaries were prevalent.

The coins of Sultan Illutmish bear Sanskrit inscription. During Lodi dynasty Sikandari a copper coin with small silver alloy and Ruppayya a silver coin were used. During Sher Shah, rupaya basically of copper was used. One ruppaya was equivalent of 178 grains. During the Mughals Muhr or ashrafi of 169 grain was prevalent, dam was 323 grains and was of copper. During Aurangzeb the dams debased by 2/3 rd.The number of mints increased to 40 from previous 14 of Akbar’s period.

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