It constantly amazes me how a passing reference in this column leads to the discovery of fascinating new (at least, to me) facts. Only recently, the references to William Wedderburn led me to find Gopal Krishna Gokhale's principled apology. There have been a number of communications on this 'discovery' and they all wonder how many of today's leaders in politics, administration and our social circles would admit that they are wrong when they have defamed someone using incorrect information and then, more importantly, apologise? But that by the way; is not the focus of today's column, which derives from the Soho Mint in Birmingham (Miscellany June14).
Equipment from the Soho Mint can be found in Lord's Security Mint Limited in Renigunta (near Tirupati), I'm told by Sudhir Ravindran, an advocate in Madras. It was established as the largest coin blanking facility in India, he adds.
Lord's Mint was set up in 2003 as a joint venture between the Andhra Pradesh Government and a family group led by P. Ravindran, the father of my correspondent. Its equipment came from a Spanish mint popularly known by its anagrammed name, LOCSA. To complement this machinery, more was bought from the Birmingham Mint that had taken over the Soho Mint.
The Birmingham Mint, set up by Ralph Heaton, was at its peak when it was producing millions of one and two denomination Euro coins for the European Union, on a subcontract from the Royal Mint, but when the contract was not renewed and business slumped, the Birmingham Mint was put on sale in 2003 and was picked up by J.F.T. Law & Co, which produces commemorative coins and medals. Law's put up for sale the machinery it did not need — particularly the Soho Mint machinery that the Birmingham Mint had acquired — and the principals of Lord's in Madras acquired a substantial part of this equipment. The first order the Lord's Mint executed was for coins for Bangladesh, minting them (after trials) on a subcontract from the Indonesian Government Mint on whom the order had been placed by the Bangladesh Central Bank.
Unfortunately, shortly after this, P. Ravindran, on his way from Madras to Renigunta, was badly injured in a serious road accident and is still bed-ridden. With that, the Mint's activities have ground to a halt, but attempts are at present being made to revive it.
Keywords: Lord's Mint