On the eve of 541 Nanakshahi Samvat,the beginning of the year as per the Nanakshahi calendar,city-based coin-collector Narinder Pal has revealed his collection of rare coins issued by Sikh rulers and states.
The collection has more than 1,000 coins issued between 1750 and 1849 and has been put together in the last 20 years,says Narinder.
The coins were released by Sikh kings,who were otherwise ruled by Mughals and Britishers,but were given the right to release coins of their states. The Mughals,however,insisted on having their names engraved on the coins
These include copper and silver coins of Nabha,Kaithal,Patiala and Jind states,besides those released by the 12 Sikh misls,which were dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh. The copper coins are of denomination of one paisa and two paise,while silver coins are of denomination of one rupee.
One of the rarest of these coins is the one issued by the last Sikh ruler,Maharaja Daleep Singh. It carries the engraved impression Akal Sahai Daleep Singh on one side and on the other side,the words Zarab Sri Amritsar (meaning minted at Amritsar) are engraved. There are also coins with denomination of multiple paise and silver coins called Nazrana,which were offered to God on Baisakhi.
Narinder,who is the general secretary of the National Numismatic Society,expresses concern at the large-scale smuggling of such coins to other countries. The government must preserve the rich heritage of Punjab,so that coming generations can experience the history of the region through these relics, he says.
He plans to put the coins on display at a gurdwara late in the evening.
A record collector
Narinder,a mechanical engineer by profession,has many other collections in his possession. Among the rarest,is a two and a half-rupee currency note released by the Republic of Indonesia,a 25 rupee note released by the Nepal Rashtra Bank and a collection of currency notes released by and on Saddam Hussain.
His name is listed in the Limca Book of Records for possessing 80,000 different coins,10,000 liquor bottles, 8,000 perfume bottles and 10,000 key chains.