Coins are pieces of metal that have been assigned a value and stamped with a designed approved by the governing authority. Coins are legal tender. The history of coins of India has evolved over time. Buying and selling began with cowrie shells and beads being used as money. This use of commodity money paved the way for the barter system. Coins evolved from the problems associated with the barter system. Precious metals were shaped and then struck with designs and marks so that they could be used as legal tender or coins in India. For convenience, they have been categorised into ancient coins, medieval coins, colonial coins, and modern Indian coins.
The earliest coins of India were silver punch-marked ones. They were struck with individual punches bearing a design and were circulated in the Janapadas. Each Janapada had its own combination of punches. One of the peculiar punch mark coins is that of the Gandhara Janapada. These coins were elongated and punched on each end with the six-armed symbol. Gold, copper, lead and billon coins soon came into circulation.
Coins tell a lot about the ruler who issued them. They speak of events that took place; they tell us the name of the ruler; some coins even tell us which year he ruled in. The designs are aesthetic. Ancient coins of India depict the king, 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.
During the British rule in India, currency slowly, but steadily shifted from precious metals to token currency. Coins of British India were minted in brass, bronze, aluminium, stainless steel, and other metals which were not deemed precious. The coins that we use today in India have a fascinating history. Mintage World is the perfect place to uncover it and learn something new.