East India Company, Madras Presidency, Reformation 1807-18, gold Two Pagodas, second issue, type B/IV, seven-tiered Gopuram of a temple flanked by 9 stars either side, surrounded by oval buckled garter inscribed two pagodas ·, do hun [Two hun], peak of Gopuram points to o in pagoda, rev. Vishnu holding sword, rising from a lotus flower, surrounded by three concentric circles of pellets, within ribbon inscribed in Tamil and Telugu, · 2 vara kun/2 vara hun [2 hun], no pellet in Telugu legend, 5.93g/12h (Prid. 146 [Sale, lot 361]; Stevens 3.6; KM. 358; F 1582). Virtually as struck with full mint bloom, most attractive, rare [certified and graded NGC MS 66] £1,500-£2,000 --- Owner’s ticket and envelope. In February 1806, and in the wake of the adoption of a milled coinage by the Bengal presidency, the Governor in Council, Lord William Bentinck (1774-1839), recommended the Supreme Government at Calcutta authorise a new mint to be erected in Black Town, and that Benjamin Roebuck (1753-1809), the assay master at the old Madras mint and whose father, John Roebuck (1718-94) had introduced James Watt to Matthew Boulton and sold the latter the patent on Watt’s steam engine, be appointed mint master. Erection of mint machinery and the preparation of dies occupied a year, with the first coins produced, copper dubs and halves, along with silver rupees and their fractions, in April 1807. Problems with the mint machinery, powered by bullocks and not helped by the quality of the silver being used (Spanish dollars were laminated prior to being struck into half-pagodas or double-rupees), further complicated matters, with the first of the 1807-8 issue coins, 5 and 2 fanam pieces, being issued in June 1807. By August the full range of silver denominations were being struck from, it is presumed, dies that were engraved in Calcutta, and the first gold coins, valued at 2 and 1 pagoda, appeared in February 1808. By the summer of 1808 it would seem that the new die-cutting room at Black Town was in full operation and coinage of the 1808-12 second issue silver denominations could commence. Concurrently, however, the multiplicity of coin types circulating in Madras was causing concern among the Company’s Court of Directors. Eventually, in June 1812, coinage of silver pagodas was ceased by proclamation and a new rupee coinage took its place; initially to the old Arcot standard, and later to the English standard. The issue of gold pagodas was discontinued in December 1817
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