The first appearance of what is presumed to be Robert Gordon’s interpretation of Peter Rouw’s model of John Flaxman’s classic design for a new Indian coinage East India Company, Bombay Presidency, Later coinages: English design, copper Pattern Mohur, Bombay, 1828, machine-struck issue, type A/II, unsigned [probably by R. Gordon after P. Rouw], star, garter inscribed bombay, date in centre, rev. lion walking left, palm-tree behind, edge plain, thin flan, 6.66g/12h (Prid. 336 [Sale, lot 561]; Stevens 5.3; KM. Pn18). Extremely fine and very rare [certified and graded NGC MS 62 BN] £2,000-£3,000 --- Provenance: SNC December 1978 (14438), two tickets. Owner’s ticket. Ever since 1806, when the Company’s Court of Directors expressed their desire to have one general currency for all their Indian possessions, a steady movement led by James Prinsep (1799-1840) resulted in parity across the coinages of the three presidencies in 1833 and the establishment of a new uniform range of issues in 1835. One of the elements inherited by those involved in the transition was the design of the ‘lion and palm’ coppers struck at the new Bombay mint at the end of 1828 and described in a letter from Capt (later Major) John Hawkins, Bombay Engineers, to Boulton, Watt & Co in February 1829; they had met with a mixed reception. The design had originated with Capt (later Major-General) William Nairn Forbes (1796-1855), Bengal Engineers, who superintended the sourcing of machinery for the new mint at Calcutta. Before Forbes left London to return to Calcutta in 1823 he is known to have shared his idea with the Court of Directors for a simple emblem for future Indian coinage, in the form of ‘a solitary Lion’ which might be ‘completely localized by the ever flourishing Palm’ to replace the ‘vulgar and inelegant appearance of the [Company’s] arms’. In turn, the Court commissioned the eminent sculptor John Flaxman (1755-1826), whose work was then modelled by the sculptor and wax modeller Peter Rouw (1771-1852) in 1823. An impression of Rouw’s model is thought to have been sent to Bombay and used as the basis for a locally-based engraver, thought by many sources to be Robert Gordon, who transferred to the mint from the 2nd battalion of the Bombay Artillery and whose military background is likely to have influenced the obverse design. The reverse was also the prototype for the extremely rare Opening of the Bombay Mint medal (Pudd. 828.1) found on the cover of Mr Puddester’s book, Medals of British India, Volume One (London 2002). Subsequent interpretations of Flaxman’s original work were made by Kasinath Dass in 1834 and by William Wyon between 1847 and his death in 1851
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