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Modern Gold - featuring medallic rarities of British India

The modern era of coinage begins with the introductin of the coin press machine that was used by Nicolas Briot as mintmaster in France to Louis XIII, and then later in England when he became mintmaster to Charles I. Coins and medals could be, for the first time, minted on regular planchets, and in higher relief.

This era was also marked by the search for new sources of gold and silver by France, England, Spain, and Holland in North and South America, India, China, and Africa. This was the impetus for the era of Colonialization.

Between 1800 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians, around 10 million square miles of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire. Until its dissolution in 1858, the British East India Company was key in the expansion of the British Empire in Asia. Though originally established to search for spices, the company found in India and China two of the cornerstones of the modern economy: Corporate exploitation of cheap indigenous labor, and the Drug Trade. They made Indian laborers grow opium and traded it for Tea in China. When the Chinese objected that their citizens were being turned into zombies, the British went to war to force them to accept the opium.

Nevertheless, as exploitative as the British presence in the East may have been, like the Romans, they brought roads, building projects, schools, and relatively stable conditions for trade. As China, India and all of Asia rise, the new wealthy classes have become avid collectors of their numismatic heritage.

The medals of the East India Company provide an amazing artistic testament to the intrepid characters who shaped this historic expansion and the battles they fought.

As a note comparing the relative availability of British Indian medals to British Indian coinage: The original Strike William IV mohur mintage is reported by Spink at 29,000 pieces and by Baldwin's at 9000 pieces. In proof restrike it is estimated that there is at least that many again. The William IV 2 mohur original strike mintage is at about 2000 pieces, with the restrike estimates being twice that figure. Though undoubtedly many coins have been lost and melted over the years - so too with the medals.

 

......................................................MODERN GOLD COINS PAGE 2

Before Robert Clive, for nearly 200 years the British East India Company was a trading firm dealing in spices and fabrics. It competed throughout the East with similar companies from France, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Denmark etc. as well as with various privateers. And it served at the caprice and whim of varying local Indian Princes. Clive changed all that. Through a series of dramatic military victories he seized control of the seas from the Dutch and Portuguese, ran the French out of Bengal and Calcutta, and then engineered a coup that overthrew the King of Bengal, and effectively claimed the entire region for the India Company, transforming the Company from a trading concern into a nascent Empire. He retired as one of the richest men in England - and the world. Quite an accomplishment for a man of humble origins who began his career as a clerk.

BRITISH INDIA 1796

Major General Claude Martin (aide de camp to Cornwallis) Proof Silver Medal, 1796/7, bust of Maj Gen Claud Martin to right, McKENZIE F below, LABORE ET CONSTANIA around Urdu inscription: Honoured in the State, Exalted in the Kingdom, Distinguished noble General Claude Martin, the Brave, Courageous in Battle. ( Pudd 796.2) - RRR

superlative condition for the type

Rare, less than 50 known to Puddester Considered a medal, but struck to be used as currency at the Lucknow Bazaar, owned by Martin. ex David Fore collection.

MS 63....................................$ 3500

Medals of the Honourable East India Company are believed to have been struck over a period of time after the initial striking. In addition to the original strikes issued, there were also medals struck during the 'period', for late claims by military recipients who had lost or damaged medals. These are considered to be "contemporary" strikes, and can be difficult to destinguish from original strikes because of the very low mintages.

Then there are those medals struck very much later, reputedly into the early 20th century, on demand for VIPs who needed examples for their collections. As the dies degraded in the humidity etc in India, over time they became rusty and would need to be polished before each batch of strikings to remove the surface corrosion (which still survived in the tiniest areas between details), gradually causing a loss of definition and resulting in more flaws and cracks to the die itself from repeated striking. The early strikes - especially those sharp strikes that appear to be original - carry a heavy premium over modern restrikes.

BRITISH INDIA 1801

Honorable East India Company Gold Egypt Medal 50mm, (53.6 g) Original or very early contemporary strike. (nearly impossible to tell with such a low mintage) Calcutta mint.

Obv: Sepoy holding the Union Flag, Camp in the background. In Urdu: "This medal has been presented in commemoration of the defeat of the French army in Egypt by the victorious and brave English army." Rev: British Ship sailing towards the coast of Egypt, obelisk and pyramids in the background. MDCCCI in exergue.

Of the highest rarity in gold: Only 16 struck and awarded to high ranking officers in the British campaign in Egypt against the troops of Napoleon. With original clasp. Hayward p 34 ex Chris Eimer

AU..............................................POR

BRITISH INDIA N.D. (C. 1808)

East India Company College (Haileybury)
Gold Mathematics Prize
(30.5gm.) by Thomas Wyon.

Helmeted Head of Minerva with Elelphant motif on Corinthian Helmet, Cornucopia, rudder, caduceus in field. RV: Coll Anglo-India upper, Honoris Causa (for the sake of honor), lower In Discipl Mathm within wreath. Edge named (obscured by holder).

Pudd 941.3 RR Very rare in gold, less than 50 specimens minted, mostly business strikes. This is the only proof specimen recorded.

NGC PF 62 Ultra cameo..........$6500

BRITISH INDIA 1809

Honourable East India Company Gold Medal for the Capture of Rodrigues, Isle of Bourbon & Isle of France 1809-10, (60.16g,) Original Strike Calcutta Mint, fitted with gold loop for suspension and contained in a contemporary red leather fitted case.

Obv: a Sepoy holding British Flag and musket with bayonnet, Left Foot trampling a French Eagle and Standard. Reverse, in Urdu: This medal was conferred in the memory of the bravery and devotion exhibited by the Sepoys of the English Company in the capture of the Islands of Rodrigues, Bourbon and Mauritius in the year of the Hegira 1226 Around: Rodrigues VI July MDCCCIX, Bourbon VIII July, and Isle of France VIII December MDCCCX - (BBM 47, Chisholm-Britannica Vol 18 p7) Struck at the Calcutta mint for the Bengali Troops that fought in these battles.

Extremely Rare sharp original strike - and of great historical interest both from a British Indian and an anti-Napoleonic perspective. Only 45 gold medals struck and awarded to native Bengali officers, the Governor General and the King. Hayward p 40 ex DNW

Lusterous AU/ UNC...............$22,000

british india medals british india medals

BRITISH INDIA N.D. (C. 1810)

East India Company College (Haileybury). Sanskrit Prize-Medal (Gold) n.d. (Circa 1810), (62.69 g);

Soho mint. Signed Initial K for Conrad Heinrich Küchler. Sari draped female figure with elephant scalp writing and walking right, left altar, right flower / / Inscription in Sanskrit: BUDDHI PRASADJANTATA SUKHAM SATVIKAM PRITKAMATMA. In centre:  SHRI VIDHYA VARAH: “Pursuit of Knowledge is Better than the Pursuit of Gold." Pudd. 948.1.2. Extremely Rare.

Haileybury was extant for 52 years, suggesting a mintage if a Sanskrit gold medal was awarded each year, "though in practice few are found" according to Puddester.

Mounted as a revolving brooch in a large gold frame, In an attractive vintage case.
Exquisite AU/UNC................$10,000

british india medals british india medals

BRITISH INDIA 1816

Fort William College, Calcutta, Honorary Language Medal, type 2, 1816, a gold award, 45mm, (51.18g) unsigned [by the Calcutta mint]

Allegorical scene of East-West Unity: mosque at left, pagoda at right (Muslim and Hindu India), sailing ship in centre background (Britain), under a rising sun. rev: legend in wreath ending june 30 mdcccxvi, (Pudd. 800.2). Extremely rare, less than 50 struck according to Puddester.

in a contemporary red circular box
Exquisite prooflike AU/UNC.....sold

BRITISH INDIA 1826

Honorable East India Company Burma Gold Medal, (48.5gm) Magnificent original strike and fitted with original steel clip and split ring suspension. Designed by W. Daniell of the Royal Academy, and engraved by William Wyon at the Royal Mint.. Obv Signed by Wyon, rev signed by Daniell on the groundline.

Obv: Storming of the Great Pagoda at Rangoon. Palm tree under which the general staff and the river carrying the Irwaddy Flotilla joining the attack. In Urdu: "The Standard of the victorious army of England upon Ava" Rev: Elephant of Burma crouching before the Lion of England, flags behind. In Urdu; "The Elephant of Ava (Burma) submits to the Lion of England, year 1826"

A magnificent specimen of scuptural medallic art, and considered the most beautiful of all British war medals; 308 were struck for Bengali Officers of the First Burmese War, and 450 for Madras Officers - though only 220 were issued, the rest returned to the bullion house. Of the 5 examples to turn up at auction in the last 15 years, this is by far the finest. Hayward p 205 ex DNW

Brilliant Gem Uncirculated.....$20,000

british india medals british india medals

BRITISH INDIA 1828

Completion of the Bombay Mint. Large Silver Medal 64mm. (164 grams) Struck in 1828 - 2 years before the official opening of the mint.

Obv: Lion walking before Palm Tree, Rev: GLORIOSISSIMO/REGNO GEORGII. IV./MONETARIVM BOMBAIÆ/DELINEATVM INCŒPTVM/ET PER ACTVM OPERA/STVDIOQUE.A.D 1828/J.HAWKINS.F.R.S within laurel wreath.

Pudd.828, RRRR Used to illustrate the cover of the book.

Excessively Rare - less than 12 struck according to Puddester, (none struck in any other metal) and of the highest historical and numismatic importance - being the pattern design for the mohurs and 2 mohurs of William IV struck later at the Calcutta mint in 1835, and thenceforth the symbol of British India.

Beautifully toned in contemporary case
NGC Graded MS 62.............$20,000

British. India. 1860

Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), Governor of Bombay, 1819-1827, Proof Silver Medal 51.5mm (56 gm) of the Elphinstone Institute, Aberdeen [1860], by Henry Weigall, bewhiskered bust left: Elph Inst Alumnus -Benemeritus, rev semi-draped Indian student, reads book on which shines a shaft of light, Anglia Orienti/ Luccem Reddit (England shone light on the East)

Governor Mountstuart Elphinstone, nephew of Admiral Keith Elphinstone of Patrick O'Brien fame, opened several educational institutions in Bombay which were accessible to the Indian population. (Pudd 860.5) listed in AE only - RRR - less than 25 minted. Of the highest Rarity and Unlisted in Silver, perhaps Unique. ex baldwins

Brilliant proof Uncirculated.......$850

east india company medal east india company medal

BRITISH INDIA 1867

Royal Military Academy Woolwich, Pollock Prize Gold Medal, (70.75g)
by B. Wyon, 1842, High Relief uniformed bust of Major General Sir George Pollock (1786-1872), military commander in India who in 1842 relieved Jellalabad, forced the Khyber Pass and raided Kabul. rev. legend in ten lines founded by the/ british inhabitants/ of calcutta/ to commemorate/ the eminent services of/ major general/ sir george pollock g.c.b./and awarded to/ the most distinguished/ cadet of the season., edge impressed f.j.d. r.e., ., with contemporary gold suspension (Puddester 861.4 -RR), ex spink

Extremely Rare - less than 50 struck according to Puddester. Presented, along with a copy of the "Pollock Memoir" to the outstanding cadet of the year. Ex Magnus collection.

Brilliant proof UNC.....................................$5500

east india company medal east india company medal BRITISH INDIA 1875

Delhi College, gold medal, 1875, Calcutta mint. (58.75gms.) diad. bust of Queen Victoria by William Wyon (Pennyblack bust) l., rev. LORD NORTHBROOK MEDAL, FOUNDED 1875, DELHI COLLEGE, wreath, (Puddester: 875.2.3 - RRRRR)

Of the Highest Rarity, Perhaps Unique. According to Puddester: "Other than the registers in the Calcutta mint recording the striking of this medal, the author has not been able to trace a specimen. As Delhi College was closed in 1877 there were probably only one or two of these medals awarded." ex spink

PCGS graded SP 61.........POR

The Delhi Durbar ceremonies of Victoria, Edward and George were the Crowning Events of turn of the century British Empire, celebrating the British Monarch's coronation as Emperor of India. Victoria's Durbar was an official event marking the transfer of control of India from the East India Company to the British Crown. It was attended mostly by British Officers and Indian Royalty. The two subsequent Durbars were popular celebrations lasting weeks on end, comprised of exhibitions of Art, Culture and Sporting Events, fantastic processions and pageantry, all culminating in magnificent Coronation Ceremonies. The Gold medals awarded at the Coronation Ceremonies are extremely rare and beautiful artifacts attesting to the last gasp of British World Dominance.
east india company medal east india company medal

BRITISH INDIA. 1903

Edward VII, Delhi Durbar, official gold medal (54.6 gms) to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII as Emperor of India.

Bust of King Edward rt, with laurel spray beneath: EDWARD VII DELHI DARBAR around.
Ornamental flowered border around Urdu inscription: BY THE FAVOUR OF THE LORD OF THE DOMINION, EDWARD THE SEVENTH, EMPEROR OF INDIA 1901

Very Rare: 140 medals minted in gold and awarded to the King's party and the rulers of the Indian Princely States.

Suspended from the original claw and ring with the original ribbon and case of issue. Pudd 903.2.1

Brilliant Uncirculated...........$8,500

british india medal east india company medal

BRITISH INDIA. 1911

George V
, Delhi Durbar, official gold medal (41.5gms) to celebrate the coronation of George V as Emperor of India - Calcutta mint.

Conjoined busts of George and Queen Mary l., rev. date in circle of Farsi script: THE DURBAR OF GEORGE V, EMPEROR OF INDIA, KING OF ENGLAND, with ring for suspension and ribbon. At the actual Durbar the medal in gold was awarded to the Viceroy and 27 other senior British officials. The Prime Minister of Nepal and the Aga Khan also received medals whilst a further 114 were presented to Indian Princely rulers.

Very Rare. Only 200 specimens struck in gold according to Pudd, though Spink has recently revised the number to 118 (Pudd 911.2.1; MYB.312), ex Spink, provenance of Sir Charles Stuart Bayley, G.C.I.E., K.C.S.I., I.S.O. (Royal Indian Orders), and Lieutenant-Governor of Orrissa, Bihar and (at the time of the Durbar) Eastern Bengal and Attam - and as such was the Seventh Dignitary presented to receive this medal.

About Uncirculated..............$ 7500

 

 

  MODERN GOLD COINS PAGE 2



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