India has been one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world and has been known for its sheer diversity in terms of minting techniques, motifs, sizes, shapes, the metals used, etc. The Coinage of India has played a very important role in the history of economic development of the country ever since its inception.
The motifs, symbols, stamp used on the Indian coins since ancient times depict a lot about the rulers and their reign. Many archaeologists and explorers have done a deep analysis of these ancient Indian coins. This study of coins is known as Numismatics. Aspirants preparing for the government and IAS Exam must go through this comprehensive material about the coinage system in the country and its evolution over the years.
Evolution of Coin System in India
- Before the introduction of coins, buying or selling of products was done through the barter system
- Coins solved the issues associated with the barter system and precious metals were shaped, printed and stamped as a legal method for trading
- The earliest known coins of India were silver punch-marked ones, bearing a design and were circulated in the Janapadas
- With time and over the centuries, different metals were being used to make coins. Each of these would be made using different methods; shaped differently with unique marks and designs
- Since the ancient era, coins in India have depicted the kings, gods, goddesses, and other motifs while medieval ones issued by kings in North India bear inscriptions in Arabic or Persian and the ones in South India depict beautiful motifs coupled with legends
- The motifs on these coins depicted a lot about the cultural, social, architectural and economic state of the different rulers and dynasties that ruled over India
- Coinage in India evolved over the years, in terms of its shapes, sizes, value, motifs and material. Initially, valuable metals were used to make coins but in the present day, post-independence coins are made out of mixed metals (in the form of token currency)
|Get on point with your IAS preparation based on the latest UPSC Syllabus and exam pattern. Complement your preparation with the links given below:|
Different Eras of Coinage in India
Coins have been a very powerful medium for projecting the art of contemporary engravers to the populace in general. The motifs have varied from portraits of royalty, personalities, heroic deeds, fauna and flora motifs, to allegories, etc.
The history and evolution of coins in India have been discussed in detail below.
Ancient India Coinage of India
- The first documented coinage is deemed to start with ‘Punch Marked’ coins issued between the 7th-6th century BC and 1stcentury AD
- These coins were made out of silver and had images punched over them. The motifs found on these coins were mostly drawn from nature like the sun, various animal motifs, trees, hills etc. and some were geometrical symbols
- The Punch-marked coins can be further classified into four categories:
- Taxila-Gandhara type
- Kosala type
- Avanti type
- Magadhan type
- Through the excavations held at cites from the Indus Valley Civilization (Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa), seals were found. However, there was no confirmation if these seals were used as coins or not
- These silver punch-marked coins comprised a different number of elements based on their value. The image given below describes the same:
|Seven Symbol||Five Symbol||Five Symbol|
Ancient Dynastic Coins
Many dynasties ruled over India and each of them introduced their coins which depicted their culture and beliefs. These coins are generally placed between the 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD.
The table given below describes the coins of different ancient Indian dynasties:
King as Horseman
King as Lion Slayer
|South Indian Kingdoms||South Indian coin issues were confined to dynastic crests:||
Chera Dynasty Coin
Ancient Indian History Related Links:
|History Of Ancient India – NCERT Notes||Ancient History Notes For UPSC|
|UPSC Prelims Previous Year Ancient History Question and Answers||Important Terms in Ancient Indian History|
Medieval India Coinage of India
Medieval India is the phase of the Indian subcontinent between the 6th century and 16th century. The table given below shows the coin system in India during the medieval age under different rulers and dynasties.
Coin of Nasirud-din Mahmud
Coin of Ghiyasud-din Balban
Vijayanagar Empire Coins
Pagoda, East India Company coins inspired by Vijayanagar Empire
Medieval Indian History related links:
|History Of Medieval India [NCERT Notes]||Medieval History Notes For UPSC|
|Early Medieval India||UPSC Prelims Previous Year Medieval History Questions with Answers|
Pre-Colonial, Princely States and British India Coinage
The decline of the Mughal Empire in India gave birth to pre-colonial and princely state rule in the country. Given below are the aspects and features of Coinage under these states:
Maratha Copper coin
|Province of Awadh||
Modern Indian History Related Links:
|NCERT Notes: Modern Indian History||Modern History Notes For UPSC|
|UPSC Prelims Previous Year Modern History Questions and Answers||Chronology of Ancient History of India to Modern History of India|
Post Independence Coinage of India
After India’s independence in 1947, India retained the monetary system and the currency and coinage of the earlier period and introduced a new distinctive series of coins on 15th August 1950.
The table given below shows the different series of coins that were introduced in India post-independence:
||1 Rupee = 16 Annas
1 Anna = 4 Pice
1 Pice = 3 Pies
|Naya Paisa Series||
Fifty Naye Paise
Twenty Five Naye Paise
Ten Naye Paise
Five Naye Paise
Two Naye Paise
One Naya Paisa
Twenty Five Paise
|Following this period, for many years, the denominations remained the same. However, changes were made in the metal used to create a coin. Later on, the weight of these coins was also reduced.|
Two Rupees (in two sizes)
Presently, The Government of India has the sole right to mint coins in the country. It was declared after the Coinage Act, 1906 was introduced. The distribution of coins in the market is initiated with the help of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Other related links:
|First Rupee Coin Was Minted – [August 19, 1757]||Which was the first gold coin to appear in India?|
|What is the main source of money supply in India?||Who supplies money in India?|
(Images and Information Source: rbi.org.in)
For any further details about the upcoming civil services exam, preparation material or tips to excel in the exam, candidates can turn to BYJU’S for expert assistance.