Peston Shahi Coins


Founders only family to be allowed to mint coins

 
Parsi bankers Pestonji Meherji and Viccaji Meherji, founders of the Fire Temple in Secunderabad, are also remembered as possibly the only Parsi traders who won the right to mint their own coins. The Peston Shahi Sikka is one of the most beautiful coins struck ever, both in terms of design and purity of metals.
“Minting of coins was regarded as a sign of power and prestige and was associated with royalty,” said Captian KF Pestonji, president of Old Parsi Fire Temple Trust. The Parsi community is perhaps the only socio-religious group to have minted coins.

The right to strike their own coins had, for a long time, been a highly valued privilege of the Nizams. But Pestonji broke this tradition by obtaining licence from Diwan Chandulal to strike coins in Aurangabad during the period of the Nizam IV, Nasir-ud-Daula.
The coins carried the Nizam’s initial in Persian alphabet “noon” (N) for Nasir-ud-Daula. Later, the coins had the initials of the Meherji brothers. No other family was ever permitted by the state to have its own initials or marks engraved on national coins.Pestonji Meherji, who hailed from Bombay, also introduced the popular mark, ‘resplendent sun’, on the coins he minted. The location of this mark on the coin as well as the number of rays of the sun varied from coin to coin and there was no formula behind it.

 

Coin minting was a crude manual method where a coin blank was hammered against a die to put an impression on the coin. Machine minting started only in the reign of Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam.
Over 1 crore Peston Shahi coins in various denominations and made from silver and copper were struck at the mint in Aurangabad between 1832 and 1842. They were legal tender until the beginning of the 20th century. Only a few original coins remain now and are highly valued. Four of them are on display in the British Museum in London.
Sunil Mungara
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2 thoughts on “Peston Shahi Coins

  1. armysuresh says:

    Thank you for this very didactic information! It is indeed interesting to know about the achievement of the Zarthushtrians in India, So many firsts to their credit. But this is the glory of the past. Now we are not only dwindling in quantity but quality as well. Once a noble community, The Parsis are now reduced to dishonesty, using over abusive language which would put to shame even the mavalis of the City. We are lacking in diligence, not ready to come out of our comfort zone. The colonies and the baugs have empty houses yet the community is struggling and leaving outside as the Trustiees are not interested in helping the genuine cases.In these charity buildings, people have two to three cars, and every household a motor bike for sure. Yet when the rent is increased or they have to pay extra for the facilities they grumble and bicker about it.
    Once a sedate and pious community has now turned a quarrelsome and frustrated community! We are still surviving on our forefathers’ glory which will in no time crumble if we do not correct ourselves.
    May Parvardegar’s blessings be bestowed on our once sweet and serene community!
    Ushta Te!

    With prejudice towards none.

  2. armysuresh says:

    While on this subject of old coins, i wish to be guided if someone knows some expert coin collectors or curaters who can assess the old coins a friend of mine has left with me. They are quite old dating back to the 18 century or so. Once its authenticity is established she would like to sell it off at a reasonable price. You may get in touch with me on email, armysuresh@yahoo.com or contact me on 9819375609 Thank you.

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