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History in Mint Condition

Indian history has been cast in Swiss silver and laced with 24-carat gold. The Tricolour is embossed on a 2.2-mm ingot and so is a battlefield of the Revolt of 1857.

Written by Vandana Kalra | Published: February 12, 2009 2:12 am

Indian stamps are being turned into silver and gold ingots. A three-and-half anna stamp is now part of a set that comes for Rs 1.5 lakh

Indian history has been cast in Swiss silver and laced with 24-carat gold. The Tricolour is embossed on a 2.2-mm ingot and so is a battlefield of the Revolt of 1857. “The defining theme is to showcase the achievements of India and the progress made in diverse fields,” says Ajay Sachdeva,managing director,Hallmark India Private Limited,as he introduces the Pride of India Collection that comprises 25 ingots based on stamps printed in independent India and produced in association with India Post.

This includes the first postage stamp issued in 1947. With the Indian flag occupying the centre,this has the slogan Jai Hind printed in the sky-blue backdrop. It was priced three and a half annas; now its ingot comes as part of a set that costs Rs 1.5 lakh.

The process began in July 2008,when London-based Hallmark — that specialises in recreating postage stamps and bank notes on ingots — set shop in India. A few months later,Sachdeva was sifting the archive of the National Philatelic Museum along with seven philatelists to shortlist stamps that could be sculpted into ingots.

“From the hundreds of designs commissioned over the years,each stamp has been carefully chosen to represent some important facet of Indian history,life and culture,” says IMG Khan,former secretary,Department of Post.

So if economic progress is depicted through stamps of industrialists like JRD Tata and Dhirubhai Ambani,Indian art is represented by the ingot based on Nihal Chand’s famous Krishangarh Radha miniature painting and the Taj Mahal,while Madhubala and Satyajit Ray represent the movies.

Translating Indian stamps into ingots,meanwhile,are craftsmen in Europe. Sculpted in London,the ingots are manufactured in Zurich,where a solid silver ingot is placed in a minting press.

The perforations are diamond-cut and plated with gold. “The replica is of the same size as the original stamp. It is a very involved and time-consuming process,” says Sachdeva,adding that only three ingots have been produced till now.

“We will dispatch the set in batches. One ingot will be delivered every month,” he says. The orders for the set of ingots are pouring in,with over a thousand reportedly booked for the limited edition of 7,500.

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