Coin Curiosity

Exploring Old and New Coins of the British Commonwealth

Alwar State's Uniform-Like Coinage

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Although uniform coinage was introduced in India in 1862 many of the princely states continued to use their own coinage, even into the 20th century (p343, Wiggins, British Commonwealth Coins, 1971). Of the states that persisted with their own coinage, a handful used coinage with the same denominations and specifications as India’s uniform coinage.

Alwar rupee first reverse
Alwar rupee first reverse

One such state was Alwar towards the North of India. Alwar state’s uniform-like coinage consisted only of rupees which were struck at the Calcutta Mint. It had been striking its own half annas and rupees at the local mint in Rajgarh since 1859 (p347, Wiggins, British Commonwealth Coins, 1971) and it accepted the government’s offer to strike its uniform-like coinage in 1877.

Alwar rupee second reverse
Alwar rupee second reverse

Rupees of the first design were struck with dates 1877 , 1878, 1880 and 1882. Wiggins also reports rupees dated 1881 (p348, Wiggins, British Commonwealth Coins, 1971) but it is unclear if such a coin exists. Rupees with a redesigned reverse were also struck in 1891.

Alwar rupee mintages
YearMintageMint
1877200,000Calcutta Mint
1878206,000Calcutta Mint
1880196,000Calcutta Mint
1882206,000Calcutta Mint
1891160,000Calcutta Mint

Some coins are erroneously dated 1788 - most likely 1877 coins with the numerals accidentally transposed. It is not altogether a surprising error as the dates are in Persian numerals and the Calcutta Mint engraver was most likely British and hence unfamiliar with the foreign script. No further coins were struck in the name of Alwar state after 1891: Mangal Singh ruled Alwar from 1874 to 1892 and presumably the end of his rule signalled the end of a unique coinage for Alwar.

Images provided by Museum Victoria and Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International