In 1766 the territory known as the Northern Circars was ceded to the British East India Company by the Nizam of Hyderabad The coins being used there were gold Pagodas, silver Rupees and copper Dubs. The Company fixed a rate of 48 dubs to the silver Rupee. However in practice the rate of exchange was fluctuating too widely to be workable. The Company needed its own fixed copper fractions of a Rupee and they turned to Matthew Boulton and his innovative Soho mint in Birmingham. They specified both raised and incuse lettering with their Authority, Arms and Merchant Mark on new copper coins.
In 1794 they placed a large order of 9.1 million 1/96th of a Rupee (half a Dub) copper coins and 4.6 million 1/48th of a Rupee (Dub) copper coins. It was followed by a second order of 6 millions for 1797 when the coins proved successful. (2)
British India, Madras Presidency;
1794, Copper 1/96th Rupee (1/2 Dub) (26.5mm, 2mm, 38.65g, 12h), Soho mint;
raised rim incuse AUSPICIO REGIS ET SENATUS ANGLIAE, East India Company arms resting on scroll with incuse inscription UNITED EAST INDIA CO, relief inscription 96 TO ONE RUPEE / raised rim incuse UNITED EAST INDIA COMPANY, Merchant Mark VEIC / edge incuse ENGLISH UNITED EAST INDIA COMPANY;
Pridmore 319, KM392.
Interesting the balemark on the reverse (4 above VEIC in a heart-shaped symbol) became known as “the chop”, a word derived from the Hindi छाप ćhāp – which means stamp. It was seen as a mark of Quality.(3)
** corrections, additions and comment very welcome, thank you***
(1) Thank you numista for the spacing illustration for KM 392 and KM 397
(2) Thank you Museums Victoria, Australia for numismatic detail:
(3) Thank you East India Company website