Kerala

A world of coins that saw centuries change

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Ancient remnants including stamps and currency offer a trip down history lane

Coins provide an insight into the history and culture of a civilisation long after it has faded. In Thiruvananthapuram, nothing probably arouses as much curiosity as the coins of Travancore.

Ananthasayanam coins, with the image of god Vishnu reclining on the serpent Anantha, are among the highlights of ‘Travancore Expo 2018,’ an exhibition of coins, currency, and stamps organised by the Philatelic and Numismatic Association Thiruvananthapuram, under way at Bhagyamala Auditorium, Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium. Twenty-four members of the association, which has nearly 140 members, are exhibiting some of their collections at the exhibition, held once in two years. Ananthasayanam coins, said to be rare, have the image of Vishnu (Padmanabha) on one side and that of a discus, conch, deer, mace, elephant, or peacock on the other.

From punch-marked coins to those issued in modern times, there are coins belonging to various periods on display. Greek coins dating back to BC 200, coins introduced by the British after Tipu Sultan’s death, and of Pazhassi Raja are on display here. Venad Thira coins were issued once every three years, and so a large variety of these coins are available with collectors. Though the coins on display show the Malayalam year, there is one that shows the year as 1889, indicating its issue in the time of Moolam Tirunal Rama Varma of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore.

Gold coins issued by Chandragupta Maurya II, and kingdoms such as Vijayanagara and Travancore are there as well. Coins issued by East India company, the smallest coins of the world, those issued by the Nawabs of Arcot, those issued by Khiljis, those by Delhi Sultans, including the only woman ruler Razia Sultana, and another issued during the term of three-year-old Shams-ud-din Kayumars, who is said to have ruled for some months before being killed, are some displays. Roman coins, including those by Tiberius Caesar, those issued by Portuguese India, French India, Dutch India, and East India Company, and British coins are also included.

Currency issued during WWII, coins issued in copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron, and even fibre owing to scarcity of metal during the war offer a peep into history. Currency issued by the Nizams of Hyderabad, the only princely State to issue currency, can be seen at the expo. Uni-faced currencies and coins and one-kg silver coins issued by Australia are also included in the exhibition that will conclude on Sunday.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:25:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-world-of-coins-that-saw-centuries-change/article24362386.ece

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