Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chance find turns out to be fake

Coins found at the kalyani of Paapansh Temple in Bidar.– Photo: By Arrangement

Old copper coins found in a kalyani in Bidar throws light on an ancient art of conning people

How old do you think is the trade of conning people by making fake coins? If some coins found in Bidar are any indication, it is at least 134 years old.

A few months ago, labourers digging a kalyani (temple pond) near Paapnaash temple found scores of copper coins dating back to the 1880s. Or so they thought. Delighted at finding a treasure, they ran away, taking a handful of coins. Only some pieces left at the bottom of the pond were noticed by temple committee members.

Some of the coins had the writing ‘VITCTORIA COE, 1881’. The name of the country was spelt ‘INDA’ with the ‘I’ conspicuous by its absence. On the obverse side, they had inscriptions in Persian. Some others had the writing ‘VIKTORIA. DG. BRITANIA’. On the obverse side, was a hand-drawn design.

No one could confirm the authenticity of these coins and this reporter had to send their images to the Directorate of Epigraphy, Persian and Arabic inscriptions, Archaeological Survey of India, Nagpur. The reply was interesting. “They are fakes made from sand moulds,” wrote Ghulamussyedain Khwaja, director of the department.

He further explained, “By 1881, Victorian coins were made by machine-die minting at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. But these seem to be made in sand moulds. The obverse side has a crude copy of the legends of coin of later Mughal king Shah Alam II. This is again incorrect,” Dr. Khwaja said. The name Victoria without the title of queen and the spelling for India are other blatant inaccuracies. Dr. Khwaja clarified that their antiquity could be assessed only after physical examination.

The labourers may have sold the coins to some collectors or kept them safely at home, for a rainy day. Either way they are bound to be disappointed, S.G. Patil, temple committee member, said.

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