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Modern Gold - featuring medallic rarities of British India

The modern era of coinage begins with the introduction 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, clean water and relatively stable conditions for trade. As China, India and all of Asia are now becoming dominant forces in the modern economy, 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.

Gold 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 areas between details), 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 - are extremely rare indeed.

british india medals british india medals

BRITISH INDIA 1813 Dated - George III (1760-1820)

Fort William College, Calcutta, Honorary Language Medal, type 2, 1813 Dated, 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.

NGC MS 62......................

NGC 4336494-002

British. India. 1860 - Victoria 1837-1901

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.......$2000

east india company medal east india company medal BRITISH INDIA 1875 - Victoria 1837-1901

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........$17,000

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 (58.91gms) 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

PCGS SP 62...........................$30,000

PCGS 42920171

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 awarded the rest were melted (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.

PCGS SP 58.........................$ 15000

PCGS 44240542

 

 

For info, comments, purchase requests contact: Jeff Kahn at Jkahn21@nyc.rr.com
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