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Small change: Rare coins go under hammer, find big takers
Dec 1 - AnushreeMajumdar,RICHA BHATIA

New delhi, December 1 The older you get, the more interested they are in you. Only if you are a copper pattern coin circa 1820, that is. And if you are a punch-marked silver coin that did the rounds during the lifetime of Gautam Buddha, they’ll move heaven on earth to possess you.

Todywalla’s Auctions, the country’s only licenced numismatic auctioneers, held Delhi’s second auction of coins, tokens, medals and paper money on Saturday. And going under the hammer was a rare collection that most museum collections in the country have little knowledge of.

The auction house began 38 years ago when Farok S Todywalla worked out the economics of rare coins and his passion rubbed off on his family. Today, sons Kaizer and Malcolm assist their father in running the Mumbai-based auction house. How do they source all these treasures? From coin vendors and collectors across the country,” says Malcolm. “What is surprising is the coin collecting hobby has penetrated to even villages today.”
The value of a coin, he says, depends on demand, supply, mint that issued it, condition, metal content, rarity and so forth. Coins containing gold and silver have greater market value but, on occasion, a very rare copper coin can be worth more than a gold or silver one.

Todywalla says the market in India is still very nascent. “Not many are aware of the investment opportunity. We are trying to create awareness, and a market, through these auctions.”
Farokh’s elder son Kaizer conducted today’s auction, held at Bapu Sewa Sadan, and the big bets were on a gold coin of Chandragupta (Gupta Empire), gold and silver coins of Mughal emperors Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan. A whopping Rs 2.50 lakh was estimated on an East India Company silver pattern coin of King William-IV (1834); a copper pattern coin of 1828 was estimated at Rs 1.25 lakh. The coins in copper, silver and gold ranged back to the 13th century; Masonic and Parsi medals were the most sought after.

Among modern coins, East India Company’s Princep’s contract coins in copper elicited good response, finally going for Rs 6,500. King William’s silver coin also lived up to its promise. “Most 1834 patterns are seen with a comma after IIII and not a dot; that is why the coin is exceedingly rare,” Todywalla says.

The second highest bid went for an 1828 copper coin of Bombay Presidency issued by Robert Gordon of 2nd Battalion of Bombay artillery for Rs 1.90 lakh. The rarity of this lies in its design — it was prepared at the Bombay mint but not approved for circulation, as the insignia of Bombay artillery was not in the centre.

Small change: Rare coins go under hammer, find big takers

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