A set of Jahangir's "Bacchanalian type".
Click on image for enlargement.
Jahangir was the fourth Mughal emperor and the son of Akbar Shah. He was personally interested in the splendor of his coinage.
These coins, he helds up a drinking cup in his righthand while his left hand rests on a book. It has been suggested that the book is the Qur'an, but this is highly
un likely as the combination of a wine goblet with the Holy Book would have caused outrage.
While Jahangir enjoyed wine, he is known to have prayed regularly, and since he would not have wished to offend his Muslim subjects
it is much more likely to have been the sort of book of verse that he enjoyed sharing with his companians.
The striking of portrait mohurs, which were described by the pious as "Bacchanalian", as well as that of Jahangir's gold coins bearing
the signs of the zodiac, was never repeated by any of the later Mughal Emperors.
These extremely rare coin are genuine gold coins of the Imperial mints class A,
solid gold not a filled metal electrotypes / reproductions.
Islam prohibits displaying the images or idols of human or animals. As soon as Shah Jahan
came to throne, he imposed a death penalty for the use of these coins as well as those having the zodiacal signs
and ordered that they should be returned to the royal mint and melted. And for this reason, these coins are now
rarely seen in museums or private collections, these coins are extremely rare. It is important to distinguish
the early strucks which were official issues of the Mughal court, from the later imitations, which are private
strike made for purposes of bullion accumulations, or for the deception of collections.
Categories of Portrait Mohurs
Original strikes are very rare. Due to the great demand for the coins collector restrikes were issued occasionally over the centuries,
and are still scarce, although they are more often encounted than the originals. There are also many fabrications and imitations of variable
quality. Numismatists have devided the portrait and zodiac series Mohurs into four classes:
1. Class A: undisputed original strikes, characterized by deep relief, somewhat uneven flans, and rounded calligraphy.
2. Class B: possibly original strikes, but more likely minted in the first decade or two following Jahangir's death.
The relief is shallower, of a more uniform appearance, and the calligraphy is more square.
3. Class C: Mohurs of Class A or B that have had the zodiac type removed and re-engraved.
4. Class D: later imitations and forgeries.
Prices vary a lot: a Class D can sell for less than a hundredth (1%) of the price of Class A coin. The value of genuine issues has far
outstripped inflation and the value of other invesments such as gold.
The following article from NGC
Deceptive Counterfeit: The Electrotype | NGC
Posted on 5/1/2007
Skip Fazzari explains how to spot the insidious electrotype counterfeit coin.
Skip Fazzari, NCS Authenticator and Senior Conservator
One of the most difficult types of counterfeit coins to detect with the naked eye is the electrotype. Since some of these fakes can look
quite good even under low magnification, it is important to be diligent. Once you have been fooled by one of these coins, in addition to
a close microscopic exmination, you may want to start checking the weight and specific gravity of your important coins.
An electrotype is a copy of a coin made using a process similar to electroplating. Usally, the counterfeiter makes a copy of the genuine
coin that he can work with so as not to ruin the original. There are several ways to do this. While modern fakes probably use spark erosion
techniques to make their models, most electrotypes we see at the grading services were produced many years ago when a simple wax impression
of a genuine coin was sufficient as a starting point. The wax model is coated with a metallic powders such as graphite or copper and then it
is electroplated. This process allows a thin layer of metal to be built up on the surface of the model. When the coating becomes thick enough,
it's separated from the wax form leaving a hallow shell bearing the details of one side of the original coin. A second shell is made of the
coin's other side in the same way. Finally the two halves are joined together and the hallow center is filled with metal to give the electrotype
the "feel" of a solid coin.
Most of the electrotypes I have encountered over the years have been copper coins, chiefly Large cents, Half cents, and Colonials. In some
instances, the base metal interior of an electrotype can be seen as its outer shell becomes worn. This is one instance that detecting electrotype
fake can be done with the naked eye but your findings should be confirmed by other tests because toning, especially on silver coins, can mimic
this effect. Usually, collectors and dealers who have access to a balance may confirm that a coin is an electrotype by taking its weight and
specific gravity, which are offen out of tolerance to that of a genuine coin. But here again, there are rare exemptions to this, so be careful
and have important coin check by NGC.
There are several other diagnostics to look for if you suspect that a coin may be an electrotype. Perhaps the first thing to look for is evidence
of a seam around the edge of the coin where the two halves were joined together. This will usally appear as a very thin, dark line running through
the center of the edge. The micrograph show such a seam. In some cases, the faker will try to eradicate this seam or at least make it less noticeable
by filing or burnishing its edge. When a model is produced from the original coin, a wax impression in the example above, some of the sharp detail
of the coin is lost during the transfer process. This may give the relief of an electrotype, especially its legend and date, a rounded, bloated look
when compared to that of a genuine coin. Additionally, any defects that were created in the mold during the transfer process to make the electrotype
and any contact marks or scratches on the original coin used as a model may appear on the fake if not "touch-up" by the faker.
This article previously featured in Numismatic News.