- a brief history of Indian coinage from 500 - 2000 CE.

Rupee is the name of  Indian coin and currency. It was derived from a Sanskrit language word 'Rupya'. Rupya literally means the 'wrought silver' used as the coins of trade or currency during  500-400 BCE (Before Common Era).

Arabian, Afghan and Turkish  invaders of turkish and mongol descent came to India following the collapse of Gupta empire. They slowly established themselves in northern India (600-1500 CE). Out of the later invaders grew Moghul  empire (1526-1857). Silver Rupee coin made a standard currency by Sher Shah in 1540 CE.  Sher Shah issued gold Mohurs and copper paisas also. Moghul emperors issued some of the most exquisite gold and silver coins minted in India.

Among the european colonial powers that came during the decline of Moghul empire, Portuguese were the first to open a mint in Goa in 1510 and issue coins. In 1775 CE., they adopted the word Rupia for their coins. The English were given permission to open a mint in Bombay in 1717 CE. and the French in 1736 at Arcot. These mints issued Moghul rupees and other coins.

Many small independent  princely states emerged as the Moghul empire was collapsing and  issued their own coins. The East India Company coins had three distinct periods. Coins from  1613-1717 were minted at the Moghul mints or issued illicit coins. During 1717-65, it gained rights from Moghul empire to mint Moghul rupees  at their own mints at Bombay (1717), Madras (1742) and  Calcutta (1758).1  In 1765, East India Company acquired administrative powers  and divided India into three Presidencies.  It issued coins in the name of Moghul emperors. Each Presidency had its coinage of Rupees and Mohurs. British parliament passed an act in 1835 to make the uniform coinage. First uniform coins were minted with British King William IV effigy on the obverse side. Next hundred years, indian coins had an effigy of British Monarch on them.

After independence,  British Monarch's effigy on Indian Rupee was replaced by a  "Lion capital" from the 'Pillar of Laws' built at Saranath by Mauryan King Ashoka in 250 B.C.E. Paradoxically history of indian coinage starts repeat itself with a Mauryan symbol on it again after 2500 years of its beginnings. India adopted decimal system of 100 Paise per one Rupee in 1957.

Coin Images:

Post Gupta Kingdoms (500 - 1000 CE)

Early Muslim Kingdoms (1000 - 1500 CE)

Moghul Empire (1500 - 1837 CE)

Independent Kingdoms (1500 - 1837 CE)

Princely states (1800 - 1947 CE)

Portuguese Enclaves  (1510 - 1961 CE)


Danish Enclaves (1620 - 1845 CE)

French Enclaves (1736 - 1792 CE)

British India (1692 - 1947 CE)

    Bengal Presidency (1777-1834 CE)
                                                           Banaras mint

                                                           Culcutta mint

                                                           Furrukhabad mint

                                                           Murshidabad mint

    Bombay Presidency (1717-1834 CE)

    Madras Presidency (1692-1834 CE)
                                                            Pagoda Series        1802-34

                                                            Rupee Series            1802-34

    Uniform Colonial Coinage (1835-1947 CE)

                     1835-37    1840-60   1860-1901   1901-10    1911-38   1918-21   1938-47

Indian Republic (1947 - Present)

                                  1950-57   1957-63   1964     1965-78     1969       1970    1972   1973

                                  1974        1975        1976         1977        1978       1979      1980  1981

                                   1982       1984-88  1988-90    1990-92   1992-


1. Money Talks-2, N.N. Pai, 1981. Mangolore, India.

J Gerson Da Cunha., Indo-Portuguese Numismatics, 1880.


Country List



RK. December 28, 1999.
Revised June 17, 2000.