Interesting historical facts of first old Calcutta (Kolkata) mint

Holwel's Monument - Calcutta (Kolkata) c1910
First mint 
of Calcutta
 Above image:  First mint located adjacent to Black Hole in Ft. William, Kolkata, WB. Source: Recoolections of Calcutta … by Montegue Massey......................

first silver  mint, Calcutta East India co,

 Above image: East India company, first silver  mint, Calcutta (Kolkata) designed by Major Forbes between 1824 and 1831. Greek revival architecture style. .....................................

The East India company after opening its trade post in Calcutta (Kolkata) with legal permit from the Mogul ruler prospered well over a short period of time  in mercantile trade  in the mid 1700s. The development of township around their trade post and further improvements in their trade activities had put the company in a better position and there was ample scope for further expansion of their line of business. When they became a force to reckon with over Bengal, they opened the first mint in Kolakata. The other major mints at Bombay (gold and silver only) and Madras (copper only) did not begin production until 1837. The minting work is a strenuous one and requires machines such as the steam engines, coining and cutting  presses, draw bench, melting furnaces etc., besides  steady supply of metals, be they copper, silver or gold. Most importantly safety and security factors ought to be taken care of seriously.

1840 Queen Victoria. EIC, one quarter rupee coin. india 

The following are the interesting historical facts:  

01. The East India Company established the first Calcutta Mint (Government of India Mint, Kolkata) in 1757 after a treaty with the Mogul ruler and his resident governor in Bengal
1835 British East India Co.quarter Anna rare colonial
02 But the gold and  silver coins bore the mint name of Murshidabad under the authority of the Nawab of Bengal Murshid Alam Khan who was operating a mint there.

03. British company wanted in  the 1820s  to increase production capacity to 200,000 rupees a day
Victoria Queen one mohur, dated 1862, Calcutta mint.
 and an expansion program was on the anvil.

04. Commonly called Copper Mint came up in 1860 in new built buildings  in the north of the Calcutta Mint grounds. Production of  coins began in 1865. This mint operated till 1952 later new Indian Mint was built in Alipore.

1839 Queen Victoria silver coin, Calcutta mint
05. Untill the British got the Diwani rights after the Allahabad treaty (signed on 16 August 1765, between the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, son of the late Emperor Alamgir II, and Robert, Lord Clive, of the East India Company, as a result of the Battle of Buxar of 22 October 1764), the coins of the Calcutta mint were struck under the authority of the Nawob of Bengal, there after of the East India Company.

Queen victoria 1862 silver coin, British India.
06The coins struck at Calcutta were based on the Mogul issues from Murshidabad.

07. The rupee was 0.98 fine silver and had a weight of one Bengal Sicca (179 2/3 troy grains). The sicca weight had local divisions of 16 annas with each anna being further divided into 12 pice.

1840 Queen Victoria.EIC one quarter rupee coin. india
08. In the early part the 18th century a rupee remained sicca for the lifetime of the Emperor whose name it bore. Sicca rupees were used to pay taxes and duties.  Each coin bore its AH date of issue and a julus date (san or sun), denoting the number of years the Emperor had reigned.In 1771They stopped using Julus date.

09. The coins struck in the new mint building (Gillet Ship Building Establishment) were identical to those from Murshidabad and hence the identity of mint caused lots of confusion.  

10.Till the closure of Murshidabad mint - 1777  confusion prevailed. 1780 saw new expansion and additional buildings

11. In 1790 new rules were in force. In mid 1790s the first coins struck  bore the mint name A'linagar Kalkatta; then later simply Kalkutta.

 (a). After April 10th, 1794, only the san 19 sikka rupees  were available and received at the public treasuries, or issued by them

(b). Additional mints  at  Dacca,  Patna  and Murshidabad came up to help people  convert their old coins or bullion  into sikka rupees; coins minted at these places were similar to those of 19 san sikka rupees coined at Calcutta.

(c). The silver coins struck at the four mints were indeed near identical. The product of each mint was identified by small dots among the beads on the coin obverses (Pridmore, 1975, p. 241)

(d). This system was  useful till  the end of 1795 when the three other mints were issuing gold Mohurs with lower quality gold and the silver from Patna and Murshidabad.  By 1799, all  other mints Dacca  in 1797, Patna in 1796 and Murshidabad in 1799 were closed as the task of removal of old coins in circulation was fully achieved.

12. In early 1820s  steam powered mint machinery ( made in Birmingham, England) capable of producing 200,000 rupees a day was  used for minting operations on a new plot near the quay on the Hoogley river. The machinery arrived in October 1823, but the  production began in 1830.

Kolkata mint. www.marudhararts.com30
13. In the beginning,  copper coins were struck in small denomination. The new coins that began production 1n 183had the head of King William IV - a significant change from the traditional Indian coin with Persian legends.   Silver rupee coins produced in 1830 went into  circulation in January 1831. Production of  silver gold and copper began towards the last quarter of 1835.

One rupee coins,Calcutta mint in 1916, 1918, 1919 and 1920,
 no mint marks:
Mint: Kolkata (Calcutta).1910 King Edward VII.

14. During the World War I (1916 and 1918)
Calcutta mint produced bronze penny and ½ penny coins for Australia.  After WWI,  the Royal Mint at Melbourne produced the first bronze coin in Australia in 1919, using the master tools shipped from Kolkata. Australian pennies from 1920,it is believed, were struck from either Indian or London dies.

15The foundation work for a new mint was completed at New Alipore in 1930s. Because of WWII the building work got delayed. The building was completed  in early 1950s after independence from the British.


Thurston, Edgar 1893, Note on the history of the East India Company coinage from 1753-1835, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta,_Kolkata