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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Agent Bushby Saheb - Coins of Rewa State

This is an English version of my Hindi article posted earlier.
Also published by Encyclopedia of Indian Coins

The Bushby Coin (Click To Enlarge)
During the course of my active service, I happened to be at Jabalpur in 1990 and there was one Mr. Soni, Dy. Manager working with me. He belonged to a goldsmith family and they had their own jewellery shop in the Sarafa area of the city. When he learnt about my numismatic leanings, he offered to help me. He told me that people from many walks of life, come to their shop to dispose off silver and gold coins, when they needed liquidity. He started bringing few coins every day for my approval. In turn, I used to identify one or two pieces, depending on their antiquity, and paid for them according to the then prevailing market rate. Ancient gold coins were also made available but I simply turned a blind eye as it was beyond my means to possess them.
In between I learnt that at Rewa, not a very distant place, a trader popularly known as Mathurawale, is disposing off his scrap consisting of old coins stored in jute bags, at Rs.100/- per kg. He, however, does not allow people to be selective. He will take out coins from the bag and put them on the scale and the matter ends there. I got interested and thought of trying it out. Within a few days I had a kilogram of those coins brought to me by a friend of mine, who was posted at Rewa.
I bought a small packet of Caustic Soda wafers and made out a solution in a mug of water. The coins were dipped and kept in the solution overnight. Next day they were cleaned. Most of the coins turned out to be of medieval period from various parts of the country. It was for the first time that I was having a feel of such heavier coins. They had inscriptions in Arabic/Persian. Some coins which were in cast copper, belonged to the Mouryan period. There were coins of the erstwhile princely state of Rewa as well.

One coin which had a lion standing to the left on the obverse, proved difficult to understand. The reverse had some thing inscribed but was proving unintelligible. I could not make any sense out of it. Reference to some publications and comparing with all conceivable scripts proved an exercise in futility. Finally I went to one Shri R.R. Bhargava, a very senior collector, for help. We were known to each other for over an year. He held the coin in his palm and instantly threw it aside declaring that it is “Bushby”. I lifted the coin and tried to make out, but in vain. Once again I requested him to read the legend. While attempting to do so, there appeared a stunning expression in his eyes and said hey! this is a ‘mirror image’. He then requested me to allow him to retain the coin. After learning that it is a ‘mirror image’, I could not have but leave his place, with the coin in my pocket.

Copper Coins of Raja Jaisingh Deo of Rewa from 1809 to 1835

Copper Coin of Viswanath Singh the next ruler from 1835-1854
During the British period, we had provinces directly administered by them and about 40% of the area was covered by Princely States who were enabled to administer their states themselves under a special treaty. There used to be a Political Agent, a representative of the Crown, stationed nearby, to keep a close watch over the activities of the Princely States and safeguard the British interests. Some such States were permitted to have their own coinage and stamps. It was quite usual for the Princely States to issue commemorative coins honouring queen Victoria. Some states issued coins inscribed “Dosti Londhon” to indicate their loyalty towards the Crown.
During the reign of Raja Raghuraj Singh (1854-1880) at Rewa, he went a step ahead, and to woo the then Political Agent “Bushby”, issued coins in his honour. This was considered ridiculous and frowned upon at London. But the coin collectors of England took a fancy and became crazy to grab them. It is for the first time that the coin honouring Agent Bushby, with a mirror image, is being published here. One can attempt to read the legend “Agent Bushby Saheb” from right to left, in three rows. We are also publishing three coins of Raja Jaisigh Deo (1809-1835) and one of Viswanath Singh (1835-1854).

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog
    Great Pic of coins,

    Nice To see Such Historical things Feeling Pride to see those coins as i also belong from Rewa ( Madhya pradesh )