TIPS FOR COIN COLLECTORS
This webpage has been specially designed for budding collectors & dealers in coins who wish to Acquire basic but authentic information about their hobby/occupation.
1. HANDLING OF A COIN : A Coin should always be held by its RIM / EDGE, with thumb and index finger. It should never be held from OBVERSE & REVERSE side; otherwise it will lose its weight and beauty . If possible the coins should be seen/checked where carpet or mat is spread over the floor, so as to reduce the damage to the coin in case it falls down.
2. SIDES OF A COIN: Every coin has two sides OBVERSE & REVERSE. Obverse is also called head. It is the main side of a coin carrying the portrait head of the ruler or a Symbol and name of the country. Reverse is the back side of a coin and is called Tail. It depicts the denomination or issue price of the coin with year and mint mark underneath. However in all the commemorative coins issued in India, the denomination is given under the Ashoka Lion Capital.
How do you know which Side is the Obverse of a Foreign Coin?
When coins used to be struck by hand, the side of the coin that was on the anvil die was always the obverse. The side that took the hammer strike was the reverse. Nowadays, with machine struck coins, there is no longer an "anvil die" at all. So which side is which? This checklist will help you determine the obverse and reverse of less familiar coins.
(1) The obverse has the portrait. If neither side has portraits, try to apply condition 2.
(2) The obverse side is different. In other words, the obverse side doesn't have the "common type". A good example of this is the Euro coin, which doesn't have a portrait. However, each country has its own design on one side, with a design common to all countries on the other side. The coins are said to share the same "reverse," more or less by mutual assent among collectors.
This rule would also apply to coins of East India Company or any other country that has, say, a coat of arms (or some other common device) on its coinage (but no portrait.) If the common device appears on multiple denominations, the side without that device is the obverse.
(3) The side that bears the name of the country is usually considered the obverse in cases where the coin meets neither 1 nor 2 above.
(4) Look at a proof set. If you have access to a special mint-issued set, such as a proof set, you can determine which side the mint considers to be the obverse because this side will be face up in the proof coin holder.
(5) Look it up in the "Standard Catalog of World Coins".
3. EDGES : There are four types of edges of coins.
(a) Reeded Edge (Milled Edge, with cross serrations on Rim).
(b) Plain edge (No mark on Rim).
(c) Security Edge (with a deep Indentation on the Rim as if in Two parts).
(d) Oblique Edge (with serration at an Angle of 30°-45° to the Rim). During the period 1835-1947, coins with first three types of edges have been issued.
4. ESTABLISHMENT OF MINTS IN INDIA : EAST INDIA COMPANY set up the following three mints in the seventeenth and eighteenth century:-
(a) MADRAS MINT in 1640 A.D.
(b) BOMBAY MINT in 1671 A.D.
(c) CALCUTTA MINT in 1759 A.D.
These mints were again reset up as bigger one and with the latest technology, at Bombay & Calcutta in 1829 A.D. However Madras Mint was closed in1869.
(i) Before1947, i.e. pre-partition of India. There were four mints, namely at Bombay, Calcutta, Lahore and Madras.
(ii) After 1947, i.e. Post partition of India. There are four mints, namely Bombay, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Noida.
There are four mints in India each with a long & distinguished history that produce coins which serve our everyday needs, The two oldest are Alipore (Calcutta)and Bombay mints, both were Established in 1829 by the British Government, though the former was originally located in Calcutta and moved to its present site in 1952. The Hyderabad mint was established in 1903 by the Government of the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad and was taken over by the Government of India in 1950 & started minting since 1953. Noida mint was set up in 1986 and started minting ferritic stainless steel coins from 1988.
5. MINT MARKS ON COINS . Indian coins since 1835-2007 have the following Mint Marks which are found under the date (year of issue) of the coin. Indian coins bear the distinctive marks of these mints but some coins were minted abroad and imported in 1857-58, 1943, 1985, 1997-2002 and these bear the mint marks of their origin. These coins are imported with the approval of Reserve Bank of India.
Indian Mint Marks on Coins
(a) BOMBAY MINT (Mumbai)-The Bombay Mint has a small dot or diamond mint markunder Date of the Coin.
(b) CALCUTTA MINT (Kolkata)-The Calcutta Mint has No Mint Markbeneath the date of coin or an C incuseis seen at 6'o clock position in british india coins.
(c) HYDERABAD MINT-The Hyderabad Mint has split diamond or a dot in diamond or five pointed STARUnder the date of coin.
(d) LAHORE MINT- The Lahore Mint has a letter "L"mint mark under the date of the coin.Production started on 5th October 1943 A.D.
(e) NOIDA MINT- The Noida Mint has a small or thick dotunder the date of the Coin. Production Started in 1988.
Foreign Mint Marks on Indian Coins
(a) PRETORIA MINT - The Pretoria Mint has diamond markunder the date 1943.
(b) SEOUL MINT-The Seoul mint has a “Five Pointed Star"under the date of the coin but exactly below the first or Last Digits of dates 1985 and 1997.
(c) ROYAL MINT LONDON -The Birmingham Mint has a small dotunder the date of the coin but exactly below the First Digit of Date 1985.
(d) HEATON PRESS MINT-This Mint has Ornamental/ Decorated Letter "H"under the last digit of the date 1985.
(e) ROYAL CANADIAN MINT, OTTAWA-This Ottawa Mint has a "C"mint mark under the date of the coin. (f) MEXICO MINT-The Mexico City Mint has an " M "mint mark under the date of the coin.
6. TECHNIQUE OF MINTING COINS : There are four methods of Minting Coins:-
(a) Punch Marked
(d) Die-Struck (Milled)
Since nineteenth century, the die-struck milled method is being followed in every country. Machine minted coins have better finish, the labour cost is much reduced and output is manifold. In 1790, the above machines were brought from England, and manufacturing of Milled Coins started at Calcutta.
7. CLEANING DIRTY COINS : The collector should take great care in the cleaning of the coins. The coins should never be cleaned if one is not sure about the process/result of cleaningespecially with any chemical or wire brush. The coins should be cleaned as under :
(a) Silver Coins may be cleaned with soap or tooth-paste and rubbed between the thumb and the index finger.
(b) Copper, brass and bronze coins should be dipped in sour curd (Khatta dahi) and rubbed with soft tooth-brush. The coins can also be cleaned in Tamarind (Imli) and later and Lemon juice diluted with water.
(c) Copper and Bronze coins may have greenish deposit (Patina) on them. These can be cleaned by dipping them in coconut or seasame oil and rubbing with hard tooth-brush. Tamarind water or Lemon juice can also be used. Any edible oil may also be applied to all obsolete copper; Bronze and Brass Coins, for protecting them from the greenish deposit. However nothing should be applied to UNC coins.
8. COINS FOR COLLECTION BASED ON CONDITION
(a) Good Coin: A coin which remained much in circulation but its legend on both sides should be easily legible. There should be no CUT or DENTURE mark on the coin. Such coins get minimum price, which is 15-20 percent above the metal value.
(b) Very Good Coin: A coin which remained less in circulation but its legend on obverse and Reverse should be legible without the help of magnifying glass and its letters and figure should be tangible if touched by the index finger. There should not be any cut or denture mark and also no spot of any chemical. Such coins gather more value than good coins, but these should be kept carefully in such a way that they don’t lose their shine and luster by rubbing to each other.
(c) Un-Circulated (UNC) Coin : The Coins for daily use by general public are regularly issued by Reserve Bank of India. All these coins are uncirculated coins (UNC) at the time of issue. UNC coins are also issued for collectors by India Government Mints, Mumbai & Kolkata, in Special packing. These coins are sold at premium. The Mints advertise in prominent newspapers for sale and advance orders are to be booked and paid in advance by bank draft at the following address:
9. PROOF SETS : Proof sets are issued by Government of India Mints Mumbai & Kolkata. The sets contain all the coins to be issued, with mirror-like luster and are specially packed.
It also carries specification like: Weight, Diameter. Metal Contents and Serration on the edge. The coins in the proof set of Mumbai have a special Mint mark "B" or "M" under the date on the reverse side. These coins are also sold at higher premium than UNC Coins. The Mint advertises for sale and advance orders are to be booked and paid in advance by bank draft, as in case of UNC sets as stated above. There is no mint mark of Calcutta Mint on proof coins also.
10. CARD BOARD & THICK PAPER COINS :During the British India period many states issued coins made of thick paper and card-board, in smaller denominations for their Local use. These coins were issued in addition to the coins issued by British Government of India. Queen Victoria had, after the Independence War of 1857, given the privilege to the Indian Princely States to issue coins in metal and paper, in their own names.
The paper and card board coins Were issued by smaller states who could not afford to issue the metal currency .Though there were more than 500 princely states and Estates, but only 110 could issue their own currency.
11. LEGEND ON COINS : You will find URDU legend on almost all the coins from 1835 to 1947.In addition to URDU legend, TELGU & BENGALI legends are also found on coins from 1907-1947.
12. COMMEMORATIVE COINS : No commemorative coin was issued from 1835-1947 AD. First Commemorative coins set of two coins, was issued of Shri Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. Since then commemorative coins in all the denominations have been issued except 1, 2, and 3 paisa coins, on different themes.
13. WEIGHT OF COINS : Weight of all the coins from 1835-1957 is in Grains/grams and from 1957-2002 is in Grams. One gram is equal to 15.432 grains. 180 grains are equal to 1 Tola= 12 Mashe= 96 Ratties = 11.66 grams.
14. MONETARY SYSTEM : Coinage for whole India (Including Pakistan &Bangladesh & Burma, except Goa, Daman &Diu)
1 pie = 1/12 Anna (One Twelfth Anna) 3 Pies = 1 paisa / pice (One Quarter Anna) 2 Half pices or 2 Dhelas = 1 Pice ( one quarter Anna) 12 Pies = 1Anna 4 Pices = 1Anna 16 Anna’s = 1 Rupee 15 Rupees = 1 Mohur(Gold).
15. KOWRI , PHOOTI KOWRI, PIE AND DAMRI : Kowri & Phooti Kowri, Pie &Damri, were the lowest denominations in India during the period prior to 1950.
In 1833 A.D.2400 Cowries = 1 Rupee =64 pices/paise=192 pies=256 Damries
In 1900 A.D.1800 Cowries = 1 Rupee=64 paise/pices=192 pies In
1950 A.D. 640 Cowries = 1 Rupee = 64 pices/paise=192 pies=960 Ries 3 Phooti Cowries=1 Cowri Phooti Cowri or Kani Cowri means Punched, Damaged/Broken (at Top).
(This ratio was constant before 1936 A.D.Later on Phooti Cowri was not in use, being the smallest denomination & rise in prices due to world war - II) These Cowries were in circulation as lowest denomination for use as media of Transaction in those days up to 1950 A.D.
16. COMPOSITION OF METALS USED IN INDIAN COINS
(i) Gold (1835-1918) 91.7% or 22 Carat.
(ii) Standard Silver (1835-1939) 91.7%SiLver+8.3% Copper.
(iii) Silver Alloy (1939-1945) 50%Silver+ 40%Copper+ 5%Nickel+ 5%Zinc.
(iv) Silver Alloy (1969-71) 80%Silver+ 15%Copper+ 5%Nickel.
(v) Silver Alloy (1972-2002) 50%Silver+40% Copper+ 5%Nickel+5%Zinc.
(vi) Copper (1835-1906) Pure Copper.
(vii) Bronze (1906-64) 95-97% Copper+ 4%-21/2%Tin+1.00%;0.50%Zinc.
(viii) Copper-Nickel (1906-2002) 75%Copper+ 25%Nickel.
(ix) Nickel Brass (1964-71) 79%Copper+ 20%Zinc+ 1%Nickel.
(x) Nickel (1946-1974) Pure Nickel.
(xi) Aluminum (1965-93) 96%Aluminium+4% Magnesium.
(xii) Aluminum Bronze (1969-71) 92% Copper+ 2%Nickel+6%Aluminium.
(xiii) Stainless Steel (1988-2002) Ferritic Stainless Steel (Iron 83%,Chromium17%)
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