I feel obligated to start most of my book reviews with "I'm no expert in _____, but...", and this book is no exception. I'm certainly no expert in the coins of British India, so I'll defer to others in evaluating this book for numismatic accuracy. But I will hazard the following observations.
First, I was curious about the word "uniform" in the title. Why not just "The Coinage of India 1835 – 1947"? Well, the first full paragraph explained that nicely:
Centralisation of matrix die production at Calcutta, after 1835, meant that the coins became much more standardised throughout the territories of British India, so the concept of different coins being produced at different mints ... loses its significance.
The coins are indeed quite uniform, but there is plenty of diversity among rulers, denominations, mints and die varieties to make this an interesting series for the collector. These are quite beautiful coins as well, and the color images of many are striking. These were some of my favorites in my younger days as a collector of foreign coins, and I'm glad to see this book-length treatment of them.
The book includes pattern coins as well, and I'm glad they're included.
The book is very nicely and cleanly laid out. Chapters are ordered by ruler from William IV (1835-1840) through George VI (1937-1947). Denomination, date and mint are the next levels of classification. Within each section are tables showing the official coin weight, actual observed weight ranges, metal composition, edge type, etc. Other tables list major obverse and reverse varieties, accompanied by excellent close-up photos of the key areas. With this book in hand one can easily be an expert in variety detection, such as the 1862 Rupee and its round and elongated pearls, and 4.75, 4.25, 3.75 and 3.33 panels to jabot varieties. While these appellations may seem like gibberish to the uninitiated, they make perfect sense from the photographs.
The catalogue tables enumerate the known date, mintmark and obverse/reverse variety combinations with values in three different conditions. The interpretation of the three price columns (labeled G1, G2 and G3) varies depending on the type of coin described. This can be confusing, but it does allow for a concise table representation. The grades generally refer to European VF, EF and UNC grades. For proof coins G1 represents later restrikes, G2 represents early restrikes, and G3 is for original strikes.
Coins are illustrated in color throughout. The book was printed in Malta and is available in hardbound, paperbound and wirebound formats. It's a very well executed book, quite fitting with Spink's high standards. I highly recommend it to collectors and students of the series.
I asked co-author Randy Weir for some background on how the book came to be. He writes:
We did this book out of a love of Indian Numismatics, lack or false information "out there" and two people able to put something together with little lapping knowledge on the whole subject.
Paul did the base, although I had him change part of it to make it more reader friendly. Here we met half way as I think it can be even more user friendly but Paul had the scholar in him and wanted to break it up the way he did. I got together most of the photos and wrote all the pricing. We were very lucky that we could use Dr. Fores collection for the photos and much of the Restrike info as most of it came from me over the past 30 years.
The most fun was looking at and getting the Patterns ready to grade The least fun was trying to figure out prices. There is no pricing guide anywhere and I had to start from scratch using my memory (scary) and research on past collections.
We have made a big step for pricing and the Fore sale of Indian coins, to be sold in three parts by Baldwin's this year will help us see what people think of my pricing.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: THE UNIFORM COINAGE OF INDIA 1835 – 1947
Wayne Homren, Editor
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