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Collector mints a fortune from auction

Sharath S. Srivatsa
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Arvind Kumar, with his son Abhishek, exults after buying a rare coin at a national numismatic exhibition, in Bangalore on Sunday.— Photo: K. Murali Kumar
Arvind Kumar, with his son Abhishek, exults after buying a rare coin at a national numismatic exhibition, in Bangalore on Sunday.— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

A numismatist from Uttar Pradesh, who has chosen to remain anonymous, struck a fortune on Saturday night, when a prized possession from his collection — King William IV two mohurs — fetched him Rs. 11.5 lakh at an auction here. This is reportedly the highest price ever paid for a coin in India.

The coin was purchased by Bangalore-based businessman Arvind Kumar in the first spot auction of rare coins and currency notes here, conducted by Marudhar Arts, an Archaeological Survey of India-licensed auction house.

This purchase will involve a total expenditure of Rs. 13 lakh to the businessman, as his new possession will also attract service tax, sales tax and value added tax, besides the auction house's commission.

Classified as “extremely rare” in numismatic circles, the King William IV Two Mohurs 1835 weighs 23.32 gm or two tolas of gold.

The minting of double mohurs at Calcutta Mint began before the end of 1835 and the British government put these into circulation on January 1, 1836.

The coin is 32 mm in size and has William IV to the right in obverse and R.S., the initials of Robert Saunders, the Mint Master of Calcutta Mint from 1826 to 1836.

In the reverse, it has a lion facing the left in front of a palm tree, with the legend ‘East India Company.' The value is in English (‘Two Mohurs') and Persian (‘Do Ashrafi') legend.

“I always wanted the double mohur in my collection and had set a target of Rs. 15 lakh for this coin. I am very happy that I won the bid at Rs. 11.5 lakh. In fact, I feel that this price is less,” an elated Mr. Kumar, a businessman at the bustling Raja Market on Avenue Road here, told The Hindu . A collector for the last four decades, this buy, he said, was a gift for his son.

According to auctioneer Rajendra Maru, the bid amount for the double mohur was the highest ever for any coin in India.

“The exact number of double mohurs minted in 1835 is not known. Those auctioned these days, including the one auctioned on Saturday, were from about 1,300 coins re-struck at Calcutta Mint in 1948. The 1835 coins are extremely rare and not in good condition,” he said.

He said that the previous highest sale on an Indian coin was at Rs. 8 lakh for a gold coin of Chhatrpathi Shivaji's era.

Among the 100-odd bidders on the floor, at least one from Lucknow was rejoicing when the bids were placed for the double mohur.

For retired civil engineer Ashok Kumar, it was time to cheer his decision to buy a double mohur in 2002.

“I bought this coin for Rs. 95,000 from an individual collector in Hyderabad. This price stunned me,” he said.

A 1917 King George V Re. 1 bundle containing 25 consecutive notes and classified as rare went for Rs. 12 lakh to an unnamed online bidder, at an auction here on Saturday. Including all taxes and commission, it would cost the bidder around Rs. 13.5 lakh. Auctioneer Rajendra Maru claimed this was the highest bid for paper money in India so far.

A 1944 King George VI Rs. 2 bundle (100 pieces), classified as extremely rare also went to an online bidder for Rs. 10 lakh, and the final price for the bidder, including taxes and commission, will be over Rs. 11 lakh.

Sellers of both the items were from Uttar Pradesh, the auctioneer said.

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