Indian coins are becoming increasingly popular among collectors which is causing their prices to increase. Coin prices are a function of rarity and quality of the coin. Given below are the 7 priciest coins of India.
Jahangir was the son of Akbar by his Rajput queen, Princess Jodhabai of Amber. The Jahangir Mohur is a lovely illustration of his love for wine ! It portrays Jahangir seated cross-legged on the throne proudly holding a wine goblet in his hand !On the one hand, it shows Jahangir's love for wine and on the other hand it also perhaps portrays his disregard for Islamic tenets which specifically forbid drink and wine !
Jahangir used to love experimenting with his coins and put a great deal of thought into them. In his memoirs, Jahangir wrote: 'Previously to this, …on the reverse of the coin the name of the mint and the year of the reign would be stamped….it entered my mind that in place of the month they should substitute the figure of the constellation of that month...' It must have been quite fashionable during those times to own these coins. The gold zodiac mohurs of Jahangir are extremely rare.
This coin type with the 'Ram-Siya' legend is the only known type of Akbar to feature human figures. Akbar greatly expanded the Mughal Empire to include Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India and Bangladesh. More importantly, he followed policies of reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. When he died at the age of sixty-three, he bequeathed to the future his ideal of a unified country of diverse religions and cultures. It is for this reason that historians regard Akbar as one of the greatest rulers of India. Akbar built the city of Fatehpur Sikri to celebrate the birth of his son, Salim.
Within the city, he built the Ibadat Khana as a religious debating house. He encouraged Hindus, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Zoroastrians, Jains and even atheists to participate. Disillusioned by the constant bickering among religious scholars of different faiths, Akbar even attempted to found his own amalgamated religion called Din-i-ilahi. This religion brought together whatever Akbar found worthwhile in all the major religious faiths. However, he did not compel anyone to adopt this religion. Akbar exemplified India’s great tradition of religious assimilation.
Nur Jahan became the 20th wife of Jahangir in the year 1615. Jahangir was lackadaisical in matters of governance and was dependent on drink. This gave Nur Jahan considerable license to run the Mughal Empire. She became the most powerful person in the Mughal Empire and even minted coins with her name. The coin legends read as follows :
Obverse: ‘nam e nur jahan badshah begum zar sanah 1034 / 19‘ (‚when the name of Nurjahan, the badshah Begum was inscribed on it….’) Reverse: ‘ze hukm shah jahangir yaft shud zewar zarb surat’ (‘…by the order of Jahangir, then gold attained a hundred beauties’)
Kanishka was the greatest and most well-known Kushan king. His realm extended from southern Uzbekistan to Pakistan and much of north India. Kanishka’s fame also stems from his efforts to promote the Buddhist faith. He is known to have convened the fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir during his reign. The ‘Buddha ‘coins of Kanishka are among the earliest representations of Buddha in a human form and are extremely rare to come by.
The Vijayanagara Empire reached its peak under the rule of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1526 CE). He was a great administrator and military strategist and a devout Hindu. His favourite deity was Lord Venkateswara in the Tirumala Temple to whom he made numerous offerings of objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. Additionally, he is known to have commissioned the making of statues of himself and his two wives at the temple complex. These statues are still visible at the temple exit. Temple inscriptions mention seven visits by Krishna Deva Raya to Tirupati. During his fourth visit in 1514, Krishna Deva Raya performed a ‘Kanakabhishekam‘ (showering of gold coins) for the Lord with 30,000 gold coins !
Shivaji was crowned king of the Marathas in a lavish ceremony at Raigad on 6th June 1674. Pandit Gaga Bhatt officiated, holding a gold vessel filled with the sacred waters of the Indus, Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri over Shivaji's head and chanted the coronation mantras. After the ablution, Shivaji bowed before his mother, Jijabai and touched her feet. Nearly fifty thousand people gathered at Raigad for the ceremonies. Shivaji was bestowed with the sacred thread, was bathed in an abhisheka and entitled Chhatrapati ('paramount sovereign'). What Shivaji's kingdom lacked in size (it made up only about 4% of India), it made up in style and ceremony ! It is said that as part of the coronation rituals, Shivaji was lustrated by his ministers with hundreds of Hons (gold coins) which were poured the over his body as he sat on his throne !
The list compiled above is based on auction and publicly available data. It does not include private sales data and also omits information on those coins that are known to be unique/extremely rare but where no prices have been set at auction/public sales.
Indian coins have a rich history. For its artistic merit, its variety spanning across diverse regions, for its beautiful symbolism...
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