On This Day In 1757: First Rupee Coin of the East India Company is Minted in Kolkata

On 19th August 1757 the first rupee coin of the East India Company was minted in Kolkata (then Calcutta).
On 19th August 1757 the first rupee coin of the East India Company was minted in Kolkata (then Calcutta).

On 19th August 1757 the first rupee coin of the East India Company was minted in Kolkata (then Calcutta).

The East India Company was a British joint stock company created to carry out a trade with the East Indies (a term used to describe South and South East Asia), but which mainly traded with the Indian subcontinent. The East India Company primarily traded in silk, cotton, indigo dye, tea and salt. British traders were constantly in combat with the Dutch and Portuguese in the Indian Ocean.

After having achieved victory against the Portuguese in 1612, the East India Company decided to establish a footing in India with the permission of both countries and asked the Crown to send a diplomatic mission. The East India Company soon expanded in trading across India and by 1642 the company had 23 factories across the country and 90 employees.

First coin of india
First coin of india

Gradually the East India Company gained trade monopoly in India. The Indian territories governed by the East India Company were as follows; Madras Presidency, Bombay Presidency and Bengal Presidency. Most parts of North India were still under the Mughals and then the Marathas and the Rajputs. Each of these three presidencies under the East India Company governance issued their own coins until a unified coinage came into effect in 1835.

The mints responsible for issuing coins for the East India Company were in Surat, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. From 1621 to 1800, the British sent their metal billions to the Surat mint to be turned into gold mohurs and silver rupees. Since the Surat mint was not being able to meet the required number of coins, silver was also sent to Ahmedabad mint in 1636.

In December 1672 the East India Company started a mint in Mumbai where European style gold, silver and copper coins were made. The gold coin was called Carolina, the silver coin Angelina, the copper one was called Copperoon and the tin one was called Tinny.

The East India Company later wanted a uniform coinage for India and started a new mint in Kolkata. The production of coins began in 1835 and the coins produced had the head of King William V on it, which was different from the earlier Indian coins with Persian legends on each side. The Kolkata mint began making silver coins in September and then gold and copper coins in December. The other important mints in India were in Mumbai and Chennai, though they did not begin production of this new coin right till 1837.

A new set of mints in India were started in 1860. This mint was supposed to mint copper coins, but because the demand for copper was not enough, the mint was shut from 1866-1878. From 1889 to 1923 the Kolkata copper mint also produced copper and bronze coins for India.

From 1916 to 1918, because of World War I, the Kolkata mint was used to produce a bronze penny and halfpenny coins for Australia, before this, these coins were being minted in Britain. After the war, the tools from the Kolkata mint were sent to the Royal Mint in Melbourne where they were used to produce the first bronze coins made in Australia in 1919.

In 1930 a new mint was designed in Alipore, but because of World War II, the mint officially opened in 1952. The old Kolkata mint continued to operate until 1952, after which it was shut down. The government plans on turning that mint into a museum and it is currently called India Government Mint, Kolkata.


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