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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Paranumismatica - Indian Token Coins

The coins appearing hereunder, relates to the Indian Token Coins of 1911 issued by Longman, presumably a British company. As is apparent from the legend, they were produced in Germany. They bear the bust of King Edward VII who died in May 1910. They are made of card board. The denominations are Half Rupee, Quarter Rupee and 1/64th of a Rupee ( 1 Paisa). Although they are not identical but imitations of the coins, having the bust of Edward VII, in circulation during that period. The tokens depict the bust facing left. While One Paisa has a copper color, the other two coins have the appearance of silver.On a reference being made to the RBI Monetary Museum and the Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies, they expressed their unfamiliarity with any such tokens. Accidentally I came across an article dedicated to 'Exonumia' (Study of Tokens, Medals etc.), a term I was not familiar with, in the Coin Encyclopedia web site. The term 'Paranumismatica', however, lends more comfort. I was amused as also enthused and thought of getting my token coins published there so that they come to the knowledge of a larger number of enthusiasts in numismatics.

Longman's Indian Token Coins
We are aware of 'play money' in use in the U.S. and other countries where replicas of coins are created in plastic or metal for children to play with. They are available in any toy store. But in the Indian context, the above referred tokens do not seem to be 'play money'. During World War II there was shortage of all kinds of metal world-wide. But the World War I started only in August 1914. An important event during that year was the coronation of George V at New Delhi on the 11th December. Reasons for 'Token Coins' being introduced, through private enterprise during that period is unexplainable at the present state of our knowledge. Further more, the above tokens are not in a mint condition. They appear to have changed several hands as the wear and tear suggests.
Recently I made a reference to the British Museum as well and the response received is appended:
"Thank you for your enquiry. This is is not a token coin issued as part of the currency in colonial India, but an imitation produced either as a toy, or possibly for the collectors' market. In either case, I would guess that it was issued in, and for use in, Great Britain rather than India. While I have not been able to trace a reference to Longman's, it seems likely that they were a British company, which may well have produced other series of token coins as well. Clearly this one was intended as part of an Indian series, imitating a half-rupee of George V (1910-36).
Yours sincerely,
Gareth Williams
Duty Curator"
We welcome contributions in this regard for enrichment of knowledge about the tokens under discussion.

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