Category Archives: Punch Marks

Impossible Possibilities: What Are They Really?

Impossible Possibilities: What Are They Really?

It has been observed that certain Indian coins have been punched with specific marks. These marks have been punched and in some instances drilled, after the coin has passed through the normal stages of minting and whilst passing through circulation. Some of these marks, such as on Rupees from specific eras, are small round holes commonly called Test marks said to have been punched by Jewellers/ Shroffs. These holes were punched/ drilled into the coin to check the core of the coin as there were instances of coins having a copper core and then being plated with silver to be palmed off as Silver currency. A kind of insurance test we might say. When the last mark became oxidised or tarnished some other way another was placed on the coin.

However on certain coins other more defined marks were punched into the fabric of the coin, sometimes on the obverse or the reverse and in certain cases on the rim. In this preliminary data gathering and reporting exercise we will concentrate on the coins of and in the name of the Mughal Emperors. It is noted that some work has been done for the coins of the Bengal Sultanate over the years but work on the Mughal coins seems to be sparse to non-existent. In fact whenever the subject is mentioned people seem to throw their hands up and shake their heads and say that investigation is too hard as it would be difficult to ascertain or attribute these marks until a systematic approach is undertaken to try and unravel its secrets.

Let us now move to China where silver was king and where the opium produced in India found its market. On the various silver coins used in China there are many strange marks on many of these coins. Thankfully there has been an organised society working on the marks for many years and we have an agreement to share information.

The marks found on coins in China and those found on Indian coins bring us to the interesting proposition of analysing that; are they related in some way? Well many people say no but many of the companies working in the west coast of the Indian sub-continent opium trade also worked in China especially in what was the Pearl River delta area. So perhaps we can compare and contrast what we find here to what has been found and written on from China.

But for doing this we need to have a plethora of information and hence data gathering is the key. And to begin with we need photographs of coins so that we can discern the marks and attribute the coins to the best of our capabilities. From here we built up a data base and from that trustfully, over time, some facts can be gathered. Collecting these marks should be part of the hobby of numismatics of these coins. It is for other coins in other regions.

Shortly as in a few other instances there will a Facebook page opened for contributors to post pictures of coins bearing marks that have been applied post minting. Success is somewhat in the hands of many. We have the dedicated numismatist Mr Mohit Kapoor leading this project in conjunction with tnresearch. This will be an interesting journey.

 mark 1  mark 2

By Mohit Kapoor with tnresearch