'Indian coins have skyrocketed'... The rare coin collection of Yashoda Singh


2015-06-26 12:33:32


'Indian coins have skyrocketed'... The rare coin collection of Yashoda Singh

Built up over 25 years, Singh's hoard includes some of the best pieces from all periods


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Yashoda Singh's interest in collecting coins was sparked when he was in college in his native India. At that time, no one he knew collected coins.

He asked his father if he had any and he gave his son two tiny silver coins with Arabic or Persian script on them belonging to one of the Muslim dynasties.

The younger Singh had them made into cuff-links. It was great fashion in those days in India to wear cuff-links made out of imitation Mughal coins but at the time it was difficult to know where to go to purchase Indian coins.

There were no coin shows, no coin auctions, no coin magazines, just jewellery shops that might carry a few. Ironically, Singh found that his collecting of Indian coins was in some ways easier when he moved over to the United States.

"I went to local coin shows and found some beat-up Indian coins that I bought for a few cents. Then suddenly Stephen Album appeared on the scene and, soon after, Randy Weir. I found a treasure trove of Indian coins in their sale lists.

"From then on I began to collect extensively. Ebay did the rest; it opened a floodgate though I use it sparingly. Now several auction houses also specialise in Indian coins, most prominently Baldwin's."

Yashoda Singh two Mohurs coinYashoda Singh's two Mohurs coin (reverse)

Singh began by collecting East India Company coins because he found them historically intriguing.They bear all kinds of scripts, were made in all kinds of denominations and sizes, and were minted in troubled times by rulers of every shade.

Typically, collectors focus in on a particular period or type, but Singh found this difficult.

"Soon my collection began to include every Indian period, from pre-Magadhan (6th Century BC) through Republic of India (21st Century AD). I was faced with a dilemma: if I collected every period I would go bankrupt."

He decided to collect from every period coins that were historically significant or artistically beautiful or emotionally important to him and in the best possible condition, thus collecting from every period the best it had to offer.

Having collected coins for over 25 years, Singh is now putting his collection up for auction at Baldwin's.

Value-wise, two main pieces in the collection are both from 1835: Firstly, a proof re-strike gold Mohur is an unusually nice piece estimated at 3,000-5,000, and then there is a gold proof re-strike 2-Mohurs is estimated at 5,000-8,000 ($12,600).

Singh one mohur coinSingh's 1835 one mohur gold coin

Other highlights a Vima Kadphises, gold Dinar in extremely fine condition, a Bengal Presidency Gold Mohur, Year 31 in extremely fine condition, a 1939B Silver Rupee, an 1870 Gold Early Proof Restrike 10-Rupees, and one of only 10 known specimens of a Marathas, Silver 1/5-Rupee or "Velli Fanam".

Singh himself draws particular attention to the coins from the mints of Patliputra (also known by other names in different periods - Patna or Azimabad or Hazrat Rasulpur), Rajgriha, Chunar, and Tirhut.

All these mints lay in the state of Bihar or eastern Uttar Pradesh, the region in which he was born. He says of his collection "I did not collect these coins specifically for profit but for my emotional satisfaction.

"It so happens that Indian coins are now sought by Indians and non-Indians from all over the world and prices have skyrocketed."

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