India Numismatic Literature: Reviews    (555)

Following in no particular order are informal commentaries and reviews of numismatic works which do not appear in public domain web pages. Often they originated as postings in duscussion groups or private emails, and are not as rigorous as a scholarly review might be, but still contain useful insights on the works covered. If you know of any additional online reviews of these works, please CONTACT ME.

Andrew V. Liddle, Coinage of Akbar

Published by the Kapoori Devi Charitable Trust, Gurgaon (India), 2005. In English. Harbound with dust jacket, 89 pages plus 34 color plates.

This is not a comprehensive catalogue of mint/date combinations, but looks like it will be an invaluable aid in identifying the myriad types of Akbar in all three metals. The book contains the following:

Military Campaigns and Conquests (1 Page)
Akbar as Administrator (1 Page)
Religious Policy (1 Page)
Akbar as Patron of Art and Architecture (1 Page)

Coins of Akbar - A list of all mints known on gold, silver and copper, respectively, followed by an alphabetical list of all mints with an approximate location and other pertinent information.

Symbols and Ornaments on Akbar's Coins - Line drawings of 67 symbols found on Akbar's coins along with a list of mints and metals on which the symbols are found. (A very important contribution!) There are notes about the origin and meaning of some of the symbols.

The bulk of the work is a description of different types in all three metals. There is a good written description of each type along with a list of the mints that produced the type and the range of known dates. There are 42 Gold types, 77 Silver types, and 67 Copper types. There are also notations about errors, two pages of Controversies, and three pages on additional notes on eight new mints.

Then there is a map showing all of Akbar's mint towns, a bibliography and several appendices.

Appendix 1 - Hijri and CE date conversions and Persian word dates
Appendix 2 - Ilahi and Hijri date conversions and Ilahi months written in Persian
Appendix 3 - Mints of Akbar written in Arabic script
Appendix 4 - Mint epithets written in Arabic with a transliteration and translation and mints that used the epithet.
Appendix 5 - Phrases and pious wishes on Akbar's coins. Written in Arabic, transliterated and translated.
Appendix 6 - Couplets on Akbar's coins. Written in Arabic, transliterated and translated.

Finally, the color plates with color photographs of each type, some types showing multiple mints. The photos of gold and silver coins are mostly readable, those of copper coins are often too dark to make out everything. However, the photos are more useful when used in conjunction with the written descriptions of the types and with available museum catalogues.

I can recommend this book to anyone interested in the coins of Akbar or Mughal coins in general. It is not of the caliber of Aman ur Rahman's recent exceptional book on Babur (subject of an earlier email from me), but it is better than anything else I have seen on the coins of Akbar.

Jim Farr from posting to 10/02/05

The Indian Coinage Tradition:origins, continuity and change. By Joe Cribb

     IIRNS Publications, a division of the Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies, P. O. Anjaneri, Dist. Nashik, 422 213, India. 2005. Card covers;24 x 18 cm. , 72 pages, including 9 plates. ISBN 81-86786-22-8. Available from Spink £13

     The IIRNS has a programme of publishing monographs and short books for collectors. These cover a range of Indian coin series and some related subjects. The aim of this book, like the others in the series, is to provide collectors and students with a short and readable survey of the material under consideration.
     The body of Joe Cribb's book bears the title "The Origins of the Indian Coinage Tradition". His survey is based on a paper to the Society for South Asian Studies first published in 1999. He traces several artistic and monetary influences, which have shaped Indian coinage tradition, or traditions, from the earliest period of Indian coinage down to the modern period. He illustrates his discussion with pictures of eighty-seven coins minted in many regions of the Indian sub-continent. He presents a concise survey that should prove useful to students and collectors who wish to know the broad characteristics of the Indian coinage tradition, without entering into the details of individual coin series.
     The main body of the book is preceded by a short introduction in which the author discusses several studies on the earliest period of Indian coinage, which were published after Cribb's paper of 1999.
     The theme of the origin of Indian coinage is continued in two appendices. These are based closely on two papers he wrote in 1983. The dating of India's earliest coinage, like the inter-related dating of the Buddha's nirvana and the dating of India's history for the first millennium BC, has been a controversial subject ever since Alexander Cunningham espoused the early chronology for Buddha's nirvana (c. 486 BC, earlier in the case of some writers) when he was writing in the nineteenth century. Most histories (including numismatic histories)written during the twentieth century accepted this early chronology. Recent research is increasingly showing that the early chronology is wrong by a margin of at least one century. The Buddha's nirvana was later (perhaps close to 360 BC), history has to be down-dated and the origin of Indian coinage has to be down-dated. Cribb's two papers are significant for arguing in favour of the necessary down-dating in the numismatic field.
     Cribb discusses the evidence for dating India's earliest coin series, mainly on the basis of numismatic and literary evidence. Although many scholars will agree that down-dating is warranted, few will agree with the extent to which he down- dates. The pendulum has swung too far and the evidence he cites does not warrant a date as late as “the early 4th century BC ” (p. 69)for the introduction of the earliest Indian coinage. Part of the excessive down-dating stems from linking Indian coins with local coins in the Chaman Hazouri (Kabul)hoard, while failing to take account of links between the Chaman Hazouri local coins and archaic Greek coins. Having drawn attention to this point, much of what Joe Cribb wrote in 1983 is as true today as it was when he was writing. His view conforms more closely to current views than much that has been written more recently.
     Considered overall, this is a useful small book that fulfils its purpose in presenting a concise, well written and accurate survey of Indian coinage traditions, with a well reasoned analysis covering the controversial field of the origin of Indian coinage. I am pleased to recommend the book.
     Spink's NUMISMATIC CIRCULAR 10/2005

Coins in India: Power and Communication by Himanshu Prabha Ray (Ed.)

     The focus of the book lies on the context of coins and coinage, rather than being a purely numismatic compilation. The book is thus of interest to historians as well as numismatists - in fact it is an attempt at highlighting the historical utility of coins in particular ways. Most of the chapters were presented as papers in a two day conference held last January at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawahara Lal Nehru University, New Delhi. Contents of the book and the authors are as follows:
     Introduction: Coins as Political and Cultural Documents HIMANSHU PRABHA RAY has degrees in Archaeology, Sanskrit, and Ancient Indian History and teaches at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
     Roman Coins in India: A Re-evaluation HIMANSHU PRABHA RAY
     A Tale of Two Dynasties: The Kshaharatas and the Satavahanas in the Deccan SHAILENDRA BHANDARE, Assistant Keeper, South Asian Numismatics, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has studied Indian numismatics in relation to art, iconography, and archaeology
     Religious Icons and Money: Shiva Images on Kushana Coins RITA DEVI SHARMA, Curator, Numismatics and Epigraphs, National Museum, New Delhi and HIMANSHU PRABHA RAY
     Coinage and Gender: Early Medieval Kashmir DEVIKA RANGACHARI, read History at St Stephen's College, and the Department of History, Delhi University
     Kings and Coins: Money as the State Media in the Indian Sultanates SYED EJAZ HUSSAIN, Associate Professor in History at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, has been working on Islamic coins for two decades
     Muhammad bin Tughluq: A Numismatic Reappraisal of an Enigmatic Persona SANJAY GARG, author of several books on Indian numismatics, works at the National Archives of India, New Delhi
     The Monarch and the Millennium: A New Interpretation of the Alf Coins of Akbar NAJAF HAIDER, Associate Professor of Medieval History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
     A Metallic Mirror: Changing Representations of Sovereignty on Indian Coins during the Raj SHAILENDRA BHANDARE
     Conducting Excavations and Collecting Coins: Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Kingdom JEAN-MARIE LAFONT researched Greek archaeology and worked on the French presence in the Punjab from 1822 to 1849
     Coins: Some Persistence Issues INDIRA RAJARAMAN, PhD in Economics from Cornell University, holds the RBI Chair at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
Published by Marg Publications, renowned since 1946 for their books and magazines on varied subjects of Indological interest, have announced a pre- publication price of Rs. 1400 / US$ 47 inclusive of postagewhen ordered by15th of March, 2006.
Those interested may contact 'Marg' at: Business Development Manager, Marg Publications, Army and Navy Building, 3rd floor, 148, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Mumbai 400 001

Review courtesy Sahilen Bhandare 2/2006

Puddester, R.P.: Medals of British India with Rarities and Valuations, V.1
Spink Numismatic Circular "As befits India, the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, this is a gem of a book. I have no hesitation in venturing the opinion that it will prove to be one of the numismatic publishing highlights of the year. ....lavishly illustrated and handsomely bound .... printed on high quality paper .... as for the price at £45, it represents outstanding value for money." David Vice Format of Birmingham
   Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society " Production values are excellent. The book is well bound, with an attractive dust cover. Paper quality is very good and printing very clear. The publishers, Spink, are to be congratulated for the care and attention that has gone into the production. Most of all, the author is to be congratulated for producing an excellent piece of work, that will certainly be the standard reference for this series." S. L. Goron, Editor Oriental Numismatic Society Newsletter
   The Orders and Medals Research Society (London, England) "....compile a magnificent record of 200 years of British military, educational, domestic and social history in India and Burma, as represented by medals. The 562 pages are packed with particulars of some 1,200 medals, of which some 500 .... are illustrated with excellent crisp photographs. It is likely that few in the British and Indian Armies and Volunteers were unaffected by the events covered by these medals-the military commemoratives, life saving rewards, Royal visit, Durbar and Viceroy"s awards, Masonic items, Exhibition, University and School prizes ..... Other strengths are the detailed coverage of the Parsee community, who were so significant in the commercial and charitable life of Bombay, and of the prominent and insignificant British and Indian civilians who comprised the fabric of the sub-continent and the places where they lived." Mr Puddester has become "....the foremost expert on the subject.... producing what will become the standard work on Indian medals". David Mahoney The Orders and Medals Research Society
   World Coin News "Charts the medallic history of the British Empire in India and Burma, featuring more than 1,200 medals, 500 of which are illustrated, commemorating or acknowledging, events, personages, institutions and significant milestones and achievemants of the Raj. A comprehensive work" Editors, World Coin News
   Journal of Orders and Medals Society of America "There is .... much in this volume to interest the collector of wearable and non-wearable awards. Such items include the Viceroys" Medals, the special medal awarded to Herbert Edwardes for his services in the Punjab, the Empress of India Medal, the medals for various Royal Visits, and other military-related awards. Anyone with an interest in the history of India during the British Raj will find it fascinating. The book is profusely illustrated .... he has produced as comprehensive a book on this subject as we are ever likely to see. The quality of this publication is way above that of most "medal books", and the content makes it a "must" for anyone with an interest in British India" Mike Shaw Journal of Orders & Medals Society of America
   Canadian Numismatic Journal (Official Publication of the Canadian Numismatic Association "This is a monumental work consisting of 562 pages loaded with photographs. Adding to its enjoyment are the numerous historical write-ups. Medals are grouped under more than 25 subjects such as royal visits, exhibitions and viceroy presentations as well as major universities with over 200 medals represented." Geoffrey G. Bell, F.C.N.A., F.C.N.R.S. President, Canadian Numismatic Association
   NUMISMATIST (official publication of the American Numismatic Association). ...."hundreds of new medals were uncovered through the author's extensive research at the Calcutta and Bombay Mints. This 562-page, 7 1/2 x 10-inch hardcover work includes 500 black-and-white illustrations, a bibliography and detailed general index, along with an index of medalists, designers, engravers, die-cutters, artists. The book delves into the background of the subjects depicted on the pieces, presenting more than 25 related articles. This handsome text is destined to become a standard reference". The editors, The Numismatist.
   THE INDIAMAN MAGAZINE (the only genealogical & history magazine in the world about the British in India & southern Asia). "Since we received this book in 2003 it has been out on constant loan. That is probably a good indication of how interesting this book is. Robert Puddester has produced a truly unique book that must surely be the definitive guide to Commemorative and Historical medals of British India. ...The Indiaman Magazine is delighted to be able to review this first volume and recommends this book to all of our readers". Paul Rowland, Editor, Indiaman Magazine
Source: Author

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