Wednesday, 1 February 2012

coin is a piece of metal

A coin is a piece of metal of prescribed weight, embellished with design and product under the directions of an authority, for its use as a medium of exchange and commercial transactions and so it has become a part of our daily life.

The word 'Coin' is derived from the Latin word "Cuneus" and it is believed that the first recorded use of coins was in China and Greece is around 700 BC and in India in the Sixth century BC. Almost all the rulers of the various Indian States issued their own unique coins of different shapes, sizes, weights and denominations, in gold, silver, brass and other metals. Early coins were die-struck manually and therefore were not uniform in shape and design. The earliest of such coins were casted coins & die-struck only on one side, and were thus uniface and because they had one to five marks incused on a single side, they are termed 'punchmark' coins.These punchmark coins are uniface & remained in use till 300 B.C; subsequently both sides began to be embossed with the bust and legend.

All that changed in the West in mid-seventeenth century (and in India in 1829 A.D. when the British set up the first two mints here) when the invention of the mill and screw machine which made it possible to mass produce coins of uniform weight and design. "MINT" is a factory where coins are made"

Coins are usually stamped from rolled metal blanks, now generally of a light, durable metal alloy, and have a design embossed upon them between the upper and lower dies of a coining press. Milled or lettered edges have been used since the seventeenth century, though considerably later in India.

There are four mints in India that produce the coins which serve our everyday needs, each with a long & distinguished history. The two oldest are Alipore (Calcutta) and Bombay mints, both were established in 1829 by the British Government, though the former was originally located in Calcutta and moved to its a present site in 1952. The Hyderabad mint was established in 1903 by the Government of the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad  and was taken over by the Government of India in 1950 & started minting since 1953. Noida mint was set up in 1986 and Started minting ferritic stainless steel coins from 1988. Needless to say, all the four mints have undergone a continuing process of modernization, upgradation, and capacity enhancement to serve the requirements of a rapidly growing economy. Indian coins bear the distinctive marks of these mints but some coins were minted abroad and imported in 1857-58, 1943, 1985, 1997-2002 and these bear the mint marks of their origin. These coins are imported with the approval of Reserve Bank of India. The coins minted for circulation in India between 1835-2002 with be chronologically & denominationwise dealt with in this my Blog.

Collecting old, rare, and obsolete coins is a fascinating and extremely educative hobby, and one that has gained immense popularity and momentum in the course of this century. The study of coins and medallion is known as Numismatics. The coins are one of the important factor in restructuring the history of a country. It also increase the curosity of the collector into reading about other countries, people and place, and their customs. Although in West, a fairly large number of books on numismatics are published and catalogues of coins produced for every category of user. In India, sadly, no catalogue of Indian coins is available which is suitable for a layman. This site is an attempt to fill this void.

In contrast, most other facilities for would-be coin collectors are available in most of our cities. There are old coin dealers/changers at the city centre, and in small shops and often along the pavements of bazaars. Almost every state has a society for coin collectors where information can be exchanged, exhibitions are organized and the like. However, we still have a long way to go, which can be illustrated by a simple and very stark comparisons. It has been estimated that in USA with the populations of 31 crore, there are 15000 coin dealers and 23,00,000 coin collectors. In India with the 121 crore, there are 30,000 or so coin dealers and 30,00,000 serious coin collectors.

The market value of a coin is based on its condition which is of three Categories i.e. GOOD, VERY GOOD and uncirculated (UNC). UNC coins command the highest value.

Thus being a coin-collectors, you would in this very real sense be saving a national heritage. A collection can be viewed as a small saving account in which your savings are secure and earn an interest of atleast 10% or more per annum. Besides by being a coin collector, you would be performing a national service. Thousands of old and new coins are melted down, every day just for a small profit and often, through lack of knowledge and thus many times valuable and rare coins are lost. By being a coin collector you would in this very real sense, by saving a national heritage and thus serving your country.

Melting & Smelting of Coins is an offence & punishable under law. In future, these coins shall become a part of our National Heritage; it preserved and saved.

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