India (EIC) Bengal 1793~ Gold Mohur (12.36g) Calcutta Mint
Obverse: Persian script in three lines
Reverse: Persian script in three lines
Reference Number: KM# 114
Quality: NGC MS63
Stunning eye appeal, stacks of lustre all over.
The Indian gold mohur is by legal tender value one of the more valuable coins in Governor King’s proclamation of November 1800. No matter what they may have thought about its exotic and illegible designs, even the most wary of New South Welshmen would have gladly accepted any solid gold coin that came their way.
The more diligent among them would have done their homework before accepting it in business, ensuring that it was issued by a reputable authority, that it was of high purity and consistent weight, and that they could in turn exchange it for items of value in future.
This coin was granted a currency value of £1 17s 6d – nearly equivalent to 2 weeks wages for the average colonial labourer. It’s hardly likely that men known to idle most of their wealth on rum at the first available opportunity would have ever seen them, however it could be argued that really is the Mohur’s major appeal.
We know from studies of the mohur’s use in British India that they were primarily used to facilitate large transactions - transactions between merchants and international traders.
Among the goods imported from India to colonial New South Wales were rum, tea, and sugar.
These were sold on to the Australian colonials often for exorbitant profits, while whale and seal oils were among the earliest colonial goods to be exported to Bombay, Bengal, and Madras. Economic historians agree that “it was from such piecemeal activities that Australia’s pioneer entrepreneurs developed – those people who from their successful commercial activities amassed the capital that was later invested in the development of sealing, whaling, grazing or manufacturing.”
Those citizens of Sydney Town and elsewhere in Australia most likely to have handled mohurs can be numbered among the wealthiest men in the southern colonies.
Commissioner Bigge reported that there were 21 merchants in New South Wales between 1788 and 1821, as well as 13 mercantile houses. That a collector today can hold a coin in their hand that could have been used by one or many among this small elite is astounding.
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