Extracts from India Office Library



Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1023 pp. 258-259.

7th September 1808

The principle of executing in England a copper coinage for Bengal and other parts of India having occupied our attention for some considerable time, and the price of copper in the London market having been lately much reduced, it appears that the present is a favourable opportunity for effecting a copper coinage on a larger scale.

We have accordingly bestowed much consideration on the subject and have forwarded our views thereon to the Governor General. We have determined that 64 copper pice weighing 7425 troy grains shall circulate in exchange for one sicca rupee and that there shall be also half pice coined at the rate of 128 to the rupee…

We have every reason to conclude a profit may be realized on all future issues of copper coin instead of our sustaining any loss on that account, which, it appears, has been the case on the former supplies of that article.

We have also determined that the copper coin for Bengal shall have for an impression on one side the Company’s arms & motto, with the date of year when struck (say 1809) and also the value of the coin (say 64…128) and on the reverse an inscription in Persian, Nagaree & Bengalee, indicating the value of the coin.

As we are of opinion a coin of the above weight will answer for the circulation of Bombay as well as for that of Bengal & that the arms etc are as applicable for the one as the other, it becomes necessary that we should be put in as early possession as practicable of your views on the fittest division of the coin and also as to the most proper inscription and characters for the reverse, together with the quantity you deem necessary to be sent in the first instance, & also the probable annual quantity which may be required afterwards.

It is our intention, if we receive your reply in time, to ship for your Presidency in the season 1809/1810 whatever quantity of copper coin you may indent for, executed on the principle we have before stated, and which we doubt not will be found very convenient for the circulation of Bombay and its subordinates.


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1030 pp. 183-194.

12th November 1813

Long discussion of the fact that the gold mohurs received from Bombay via Calcutta are slightly below standard but a recognition that the state of the machinery made it difficult to produce very good coins. Consideration of supplying machinery from England was in hand. The extract finishes by stating:

In a preceding paragraph we have directed your mint department to be placed under European Superintendence and control, according to the directions contained in our letter of 27th June 1810, and as we consider Mr Robert Stewart, your late Assay Master, better qualified for the station, from his previous acquaintance with the arrangements and management of a mint than the gentleman you appointed on the late Mint Master’s quitting that department, we direct that r Robert Stewart be appointed to the office of Mint Master of the Bombay Mint


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1045. pp. 51-56

13th September 1824

The whole of the machinery intended for the mint at Bombay being entirely completed, it is now loading on the ships Florentia and England which we have taken up for that service.

The particulars  of the several parts of the machinery with the numbers, weights and marks of the package are inserted in the invoices of those ships, to which we refer you for full information.

Wehave engaged the several mechanics selected by Messrs Boulton Watt & Co named in the margin to aid in setting up the machinery and to assist in its operations afterwards at the salaries therein mention.

[in the margin}:

Per Florentia

George Caddenhead, Foreman mechanist £400 pa

James Howard £250 pa

John Clough £250

Henry Bellamy £250

Henry Ingles £250

Henry Enderwick 250

Per England

John Scott, Foreman millwright £300

Joshua Humphreys £250

George Billon £250

…It is our desire thast the machinery now advised as loading for your mint, be landed immediately on its arrival  and that it be stored in places as free from damp and as much secured from the sun as possible, that it may be preserved from rust and every other damage ‘till the buildings of the intended new mint are ready to receive that same.

We have ordered of Messrs Boulton Watt & Co several articles which have been deemed necessary for the immediate use of the mint. Should the whole of these be got ready in time they will be shipt on the Florentia and England, but if all should not be completed early enough for that purpose. Those which are not shipt on either of the vessels above mentioned, will be forwarded by the earlieat opportunity. The invoices will contain the particulars of the articles shipt on the Florentia and England.

We have ordered several articles for your assay department referred to in your Financial Letter of 24th March last…


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1045. pp. 271-272

29th September 1824

Further sums advanced to some of the mechanics before they set out for India


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1048. pp. 60-61

8th August 1827

Assays of coins from India


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1050. pp. 733-745

27th March 1829

In compliance with your request we have provided 200 tons of Tough cake copper for coinage in your New Mint and it will be forwarded by the ships of the present season, 1828/29.

We have determined that the copper money to be coined in your mint do consist of three denominations, namely half anna, quarter anna and one pice (or twelfth anna) pieces. The first (or half anna) to weigh 200 troy grains; the second to weigh 100 troy grains and the third to weigh 22 1/3 troy grains; that is 6,400 troy grains copper (or 64 quarter anna pieces) are therefore to be equivalent for one rupee of silver, according to the proportion established by the Bengal Government, and to which we desire you to conform.

The coins are to be struck in collars and with a plain flat milling only. The inscriptions are to continue the same as those now in use.

You will therefore select a native artist to act as engraver to your mint, who shall be qualified to execute the insriptions on the dies in the best manner.

In your new mint you will continue to coin gold and silver money with the present inscriptions and in the denominations of whole, half and quarter rupees (gold and silver), to weigh 180 troy grains and the whole to be of the fineness of eleven twelfths, that is, 165 grains fine metal and 15 grains alloy.

The refining of both gold and silver to be continued under the superintendence of the Assay Master, and the whole of the operations of the new mint to be conducted under the superintendence and responsibility of the mint master, who must continue to be selected from among our covenanted civil servants of the Bombay Establishment.

The employment of a native contractor of the mint must be discontinued, with the disuse of the present or native mode of coinage.

We desire that rules and regulations be drawn up for the management and conduct of the new mint, for controlling its several officers and departments, for the safe custody of the bullion and coins during the various processes of coinage and refinement, for fixing the working remedy of the mint, for the selection of the Pix, for preserving the integrity of the coinage, and for such other purposes as may be required in a department of so much responsibility as the mint.

It is advisable that you should apply to Bengal and Madras for copies of the regulations now in force at the mints of Calcutta and Fort St George, and of the books and forms in use in those Presidencies for keeping the accounts of the mint, and of such new regulations as the Bengal Government may think requisite on the establishment of the new mint at Calcutta, and which may be analogeous to the circumstances ofnthe new mint at Bombay.

The rules and regulations for the Bombay new mint, when completed, to be forwarded for our inspection and ultimate approval…


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1051. pp. 623-628

26th August 1829

All about assaying coins sent from India. There are some slight deviations from the standard but only small.


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1053. pp. 1169-1170

Seems to be wrong page numbers


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1053. pp. 1319-1321

Assay report of coins from Bengal, Bombay and Madras


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1055. pp.243-268

30th May 1832

They were instructed that they should make their own iron melting pots and sulphuric and nitric acid. As to the dies:

In regard to the dies we have directed that all the dies which may be required for the use of the Bombay mint, be forged and engraved at Calcutta. You will therefore apply to the Bengal Government for such dies as may be sufficient for the coinage and for all such articles connected with the operation of coining as you have no means of supplying from your own resources…

Coke should also be manufactured locally


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1055. p. 757



Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1055. pp. 1349-1350

New rollers to be supplied by the manufacturers to replace faulty ones.


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1061. pp. 126

Nothing found


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1061. 139-142

Nothing found


Dispatches to Bombay. E/4/1061. 187-197

10th May 1837

In our dispatch I this department dated the 27th March 1829 we directed that a copper coinage should be struck similar to that prescribed for Bengal, both in weight and denomination but it appears that the first issue of such a coinage did not take place till the early part of the year 1831.

It was your intention that for a time the new and the ols currency should circulate concurrently, but the difference between the nominal and actual value in the new coins was much greater than the corresponding difference in the old, and there was naturally an indisposition to receive the former, so that the quantity issued at the Presidency during a period of several months was inconsiderable.

In the various collectorates and especially that of Poona, a similar feeling seems to have prevailed, and the reception of the new coinage into circulation was thereby seriously retarded. After various expedients had been tried and had failed, you determined to provide each district in succession with the full amount of new coinage required to meet the wants of the inhabitants and to fix an early period for putting an end to the circulation of the old.

Even this measure was delayed by your failing to carry it into effect in the district of Ahmednuggur (where you intended first to introduce it and had made arrangements accordingly), in consequence, as you state, of the absence at the Neilgherries of Major Robertson, the Collector. This is a most unsatisfactory reason. The public service ought not to have been obstructed by the omission appoint in Major Robertson’s place an officer capable of executing, during his accidental absence, all the duties of his station. At length the plan was tried at the Presidency in October 1832. To facilitate the desired operation a premium was offered for the old currency, if brought to the mint in sums of a certain amount before the expiration of two months, after which the old coin was to be received only at its metallic value. By this course the circulation of the new coinage was established at the Presidency, and it was extended by similar means to the islands of Salsette and Caranja without much difficulty. In the remaining districts of the Tanna Collectorate some obstructions occurred but we learn from your latest communication on the subject that the new coinage had been brought into circulation throughout that Collectorate and also in those of Rutnagurree, Poona and Ahmednuggur, that is was then in course of introduction into the Southern Maratha Country and that you anticipated in the districts remaining to be supplied, the same success which had attended your endeavours in those just named.

These results and expectations are satisfactory but we feel it necessary to advert briefly to some of the measures which you adopted with the view of facilitating the establishment of the new coinage. We observe that one of those measures was the suppression of certain mints belonging to native chieftains, the operations of which were adding to the difficulties with which you had to contend. That it was desirable to get rid of these establishments we do not question, but we deem it necessary to express our anxious hope that in effecting this object, the engagements and relations subsisting between the Company and the chiefs to whom those mints belong, were duly respected, and we desire that such information may be furnished as will remove all doubt upon this point.

We are suprized that it should ever have been thought possible that the two currencies could circulate together and that the inevitable inconvenience and distress consequent upon an attempt to establish such joint circulation could have been overlooked. A large portion of the opposition manifested to the new coin might possible proceed, as you believed, from Shroffs and interested persons, but the effects extended to the community generally and more especially pressed upon that part of it least able to bear them. The poor would naturally be dissatisfied with a currency with which they were unable to procure the necessities of life, and they ought to have been spared the suffering thus occasioned.

The plan of opening shops as at Poona, for the receipt of the new copper money was futile in the extreme as the money was not thereby kept in circulation. The shops afforded to those who held it the means of returning it upon the hands of Government, and the system thus established consequently ended where it began.

While noticing some of the errors which you were led to commit, we cannot refrain from expressing our disapprobation of the seberal instances in which the new currency was forced upon the humbler dependents of Government in discharge of a portion of their pay and allowances. Such attempts should not under any circumstances have been made and their obvious inexpediency is aggravated by the certainty that they must always prove abortive.

You were in error also in wasting so much time and labor on projects for overcoming the difficulties with which you had to contend, difficulties of your own creating and which would not have occurred had you resolved on making arrangements at once for exchanging the new copper coin for the old. Had you acted promptly and vigourously there is no reason to doubt that the desired object would have been attained at a much earlier period, but owing to the delays which have been suffered to occur in carrying this important measure into effect, nearly seven years had elapsed from the date of our orders when your letter of 29th of February 1836 was written informing us that at that time the new copper currency had scarcely been fully introduced into half the territories under your Government. Such promptitude was the more imperiously pressed upon you by the superabundance of copper in circulation. To add to the amount and to delay so long the withdrawing of the old currencywas needlessly to augment your difficulties.

The point last mentioned leads us to a subject which we feel incumbent upon us to press most earnestly upon your attention. The importance of guarding against any excess of the issue of copper coin from the Public Treasury. The difference between the nominal and actual value of the copper coinage will be productive of our public inconvenience, so long as that coinage is restricted to the place which it ought to occupy in the currency, that of representing small fractions of silver coin; but if unduly forced into circulation to an extent beyond the necessities of the community, depreciation will ensue, accompanied by its unavoidable consequences of distress among the people, especially the poorer classes and embarrassment to the Government.

For the purpose of averting such evil it is highly desirable that copper money should at the earliest possible period, cease to be a legal tender for sums exceeding half a rupee. We have fixed this amount for the territories under the Presidency of Bengal and it will be obviously beneficial to extend the same rule to those subject to your Presidency. One effect of the change will be an increased demand for silver coins of small value and it will be necessary to provide for this by the preparation and distribution of an adequate supply of half and quarter rupees. We also direst that a smaller silver coin than you have yet issued be fabricated and put into circulation as soon as practicable. Its weight should be 22 ½ grains troy and its value will be one-eighth of a “Company’s Rupee”…






Index of Court Minutes

1803/04 Copper supplied by Mr Boulton p287

1808/09 100 tons copper to be coined for India p1400

1810/11 copper coinage for some Island p1680