Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 4, p. 513.
CURRENCY AND BANKING
THE early coinage of India under its Hindu and foreign
rulers has been treated at length in a chapter on Numismatics
in Volume II. As the existing British currency is based upon
that of the Mughal empire, it will be sufficient here to give
a brief explanation of the Muhammadan system which the
Company found in use.
The early Muhammadan rulers used the Arabic standards Muham-
for the gold dinar and silver drachma, and for common use madan
issued copper and other subsidiary coins of the indigenous coinage.
standard; and it was not till about 1233 A.D., in the reign of
Shams-ud-din Altamsh, that silver coins called tankas, of
a mint standard approaching I75 grains, were introduced,
thus connected with the ancient Hindu monetary system.
For many years gold and silver coins were struck in pure metal
of equal weights, and each of the former was theoretically
equal to eight of the latter, though the actual exchange must
have varied. Muhammad Tughlak (1325-51) made several
innovations. He issued heavier gold coins, the standard of
which is uncertain, and also silver coins of about 140 grains,
and smaller pieces of 56 or 57 grains. Another experiment,
which resulted in utter failure, was the issue of brass or copper
token-money, intended to pass as silver. The new silver coins
of I40 grains also appear to have been invented as a currency
device to reduce the pay of troops. These gradually fell out
of use, while the standard tanki of 175 grains continued. The
greatest reform made by Sher Shah (1540-5) was the abolition
of billon (subsidiary) coins, the value of which had to be
determined by guessing at the amount of silver they contained,
and the substitution of pure copper. The weight of the rupee
(ri-pya = silver piece), as the tankd was now called, was at the
same time increased to about 179 grains, this result being
arrived at by an increase in the theoretical weight of the rati',
The ratl is the seed of the Abrus precatorius, which was the indigenous
Hindu standard, the weight varying fiom 1.75 to 1.96 grains.
VOL. IV. L
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