Pattern coins as the name suggest are typically minted during a major revamp of the coin design. The reason they are called Pattern coins is that they are minted so that relevant decision makers get to see the actual coin before the design is adopted and then the coins are put into general circulation. If the design is rejected, then these coins are not put into circulation and hence are called pattern coins.
In the modern times there are a bunch of coins stamped “EXP” supposed to mean Experimental coins. Some of them do not also have a denomination printed on them . On the ones that have an year, it was not when the coins was first struck. So its possible these are more to test out the Minting Process or new equipment that was being installed. A introduction of new metal requires calibrations to understand the strike pressure etc and its possible that such coins were used for it.
Republic India has 2 distinct set of pattern coins, the first set was created just after independence in 1949 and did not pass and the second was before the new decimal coinage was adopted in the year 1957.
Apart from these there are some pattern coins that were stuck for trial purposes but not put into general circulation. The article here tries to capture all information related to pattern coins.
Although the authenticity of the 1949 and 1956 Pattern coins is well known, there is very little information about the other pattern coins with some calling these are fakes as well. I am not an authority on these coins and anyone who knows better can help me point out the details.
It is debatable as to whether these are the first Pattern coins struck. As per the records, the first patterns were by Patrick Brindley in the year 1949. All the patterns of the 1949 were rejected; see the section on 1949 Patterns.
It is generally accepted that these coins were struck later for collection purposes. Hence these can also be classified as Mules as the Old Die of Tiger was used with the new Ashoka Emblem.
This particular set was sold at Baldwins Auction in May 2013 at a hammer price of around GBP 8500.
After the partition there was a need to introduce new coinage for India. During 1946 in India rupee coinage in nickel had been introduced, this comprising the ½- and ¼-Rupee struck in that year, as well as in 1947 a 1-Rupee coinage, together with additional ½- and ¼-Rupees of a similar design being struck again with the 1947 date. The initial coinage of approximately 460 million pieces apparently sufficed until 1950 when new designs were introduced. No coins were stuck in the year 1948 and 1949.
In 1949 a fine pattern coinage was prepared by artist/engraver Patrick Brindley. It is not known whether final dies were actually prepared for these patterns, or whether the master matrices were used to strike the coins.
Engraver Brindley explained to William Barrett in Ottawa, Canada, during the 1970s that for various reasons each of the 1949 patterns was rejected, leading to other designs introduced in the following year. Though all the 1949 pieces are vastly more appealing than the coins issued in 1950, for one reason or another -- mostly political -- each was rejected. For example, the bird of paradise was considered to pertain to Burma, and the water buffalo to be native to what had become Pakistan.
The Spink Numismatic Circular of 1954 reports that only four sets of these charming patterns were struck. A complete set in a custom case was contained in the Barrett collection during the 1980’s. This set included a ticket making reference to the 1954 Spink statement that only four sets had been struck and priced in 1954 at the then substantial value of £100.
This set was recently sold at Baldwin Auction for GBP 52,000 in 2012 and did not have the 2 Anna coin with Star.
The lot sold at Baldwin in May 2103 with the 2 Anna Star Coin for a price of GBP 36,000.
It goes to show that prices are volatile at all places and that the India Coins from peak of 2012 prices have gone down.
India adopted the decimal system in the coinage in the year 1957. One Rupee was now divided into 100 Paise. In the run up to this, new coins needed to be designed. A set pattern coins were stuck in the year 1956 for these designs. The pattern coins have Cents written instead of Paise that was finally adopted as the Sub-unit of Rupee.
The design of some of these coins was much similar to the one finally adopted except for the Cent giving way to more Indian Paise. The pattern coins were of denomination
- 1 Cent [Circular Shape]
- 2 Cents [Triangular] – Type 1
- 2 Cents [Scalloped] – Type 2, Hindi Numeral and English and Hindi Description
- 2 Cent [Scalloped] – Type 3, English Numeral and Hindi Description
- 5 Cent [Square]
- 10 Cents [Scalloped]
- 25 Cent [Circular] [Equalling 1/4th Rupee]
- 50 Cents [Circular] [Equalling ½ Rupee]
- One Rupee [Circular]
- 12 ½ Naya Paise [Square] – to make it equal to old 2 Annas
- 1 9/16 Naya Paise [Circular] – to make it equal to old Pie
- 6 ¼ Naya Paise [Circular] – to make it equal to Old 1 Anna
- 1/4th Naya Paise [Circular]
- 3 1/8th Naya Paise [Square] – to make it equal to Old ½ Anna
- 1/8th Naya Paise [Circular]
Apparently there was a pattern coin stuck in the year 1960. The first one rupee after adoption of decimal system in 1957 was in the year 1962. This was also released for circulation by Calcutta mint as well as part of the Definitive Proof / UNC Set of 1962 [As well as 1967 as there was no coin stuck in that year].
However this One Rupee Pattern coin was stuck apparently in the year 1960 by Bombay Mint. Note the legend says “Sau Naya Paise”, while the coin is circulation says “Rupees”. Also other coins in circulation from 1957 to 1962 say “Rupaiya ka xxx bhag”.
Apparently some say this rupee was disapproved, because it was not in accordance with the prevailing currency law. All currencies in India must be bilingual. The inscription on this coin show "Saw Naya Paisa" (100 new paisas) on the top and "Rupiya" below the 1. Both texts are in Hindi, which was contrary the currency law and should have been "Eek Rupiya" on top and Rupee below the 1. This however does not sound right as all the lower denomination coins from 1957 to 1970 had the value only in Hindi. English was incorporated only after 1970 in these coins.
Apparently there was another pattern proof coin stuck in the year 1962 with security edges by Bombay mint. In general circulation coins and Proof / UNC Set of 1962 were from Calcutta Mint.
Some collectors describe the 1962 1 Re as pattern. However some old timers also say that limited number of 1962 coin sets were issued with Mumbai 1 Rupee. So its not sure if this is indeed a pattern coin or was struck in small quantities.
The first commemorative series was in 1964 on the occasion of Death of Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The coins were issued in the denomination of Rs 1 and 50 Paise. The metal used was Nickel. Apparently the mint also stuck pattern coins of denomination in Silver with milled edges. The weight was around 10.07 g for the Rs 1 coin. Now whether this was actually minted by mint or some individual working in the Mint stuck this coin out of his own interest and kept it, I don’t know the true story here. There are few such coins with private collectors. The actual sliver coin was introduced in the year 1969 on the occasion of Birth Centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The 20 paise coin was first introduced in Indian coinage in the year 1968.
As this was being introduced, a 20 Paise pattern coin was stuck in the year 1967 by Bombay Mint. However the pattern was apparently rejected to give way to the coin with Lotus design. In the year 1967 there was a thought process that the coins of India should carry the designs of National Flower, National Fruit, National Bird and National Animal on the reverse of 20 paise, 25 paise, 50 paise and One Rupee coins. However this proposal was dropped and only the 20 paise lotus coin was put into circulation from 1968 to 1971 after which it was discontinued and coins with Ashoka Lion emblem were put in Aluminium metal.
The 10, 25 and 50 paise were changed to Steel from 1988. The below were supposed to be Pattern struck during the redesign of the coinage to Steel Series. These were seen for the first time in Tody Auctions in 2015 and went for around Rs 5 lacs. On such coinage it’s hard to tell if these were definitely minted or were later created outside the mint and sold at premium.
Of the set below the 50 Paise with National Integration and the 25 Paise with Rhino finally made to circulation strikes from the year 1988. There was an addition of “Bharat / India” on the top left quadrant in the circulation strike.
It may sound logical that Lotus on 10 paise got rejected as its was more prominently associated with political party. The 50 Paise with Peacock may also have got rejected as its more associated with coins from Burma.
If taken in conjunction with the 1986 pattern the 25 paise and the 50 paise designs were approved. The 10 paise with Lotus in Lotus was not approved, forcing the Mint Masters to come with new design for the 10 paise so that these could be approved. The below set shows 2 coins of 10 paise. Looks like the Bustard design got rejected and the simple 10 paise design was approved.
I came across this coin supposed to be in Silver, size of Rs 100 coin. It has “Head” on both sides. This cannot be an error as the Anvil & Hammer die mounts are different. So it’s just not possible to mount one die on other side by error. Further all proof coins are manually inspected, so it’s not possible for such an error to escape. So it could be custom coin built to order. Well I leave it for readers to decide.
Beginning 1982, there are quite a few Pattern coins that are distinctly marked as “EXP COIN”. The marking is not put on the coin afterwards, but on the working die itself. As to why this practice began of marking the coin, I don’t know. My feeling is that this was put so that to clearly distinguish them as patterns yet to be approved. Maybe the mint officials felt that incase the die is mounted by mistake on the current production lot it would have gone unnoticed, or maybe they felt that marking the coin as such would reduce it numismatic value and these would not be pilfered as previous such coins were. Whatever may be the reason there are a whole bunch of these coins. Further it looks like some of these are manufactured outside of Indian mints, mostly the Heaton Press in London, possibly to demonstrate the capability and bag order for minting the coins. As to how these got out and are doing rounds in the US, UK and Indian coin markets is a different story.
Aluminum 5 Paisa, I.G. Mint Bombay. I came across this coin in Auction by Classical Numismatic. It was described as a pattern coin struck in 1977. I am not very convinced by this.
First there was nothing significant in 1977. The Aluminium Metal was adopted way early in 1967. There was a Minor design change on the coin in 1972. The next was not until 1984 when the thickness of the coin was reduced to 1 mm from the earlier 1.5 mm.
It could be possible that the coin could have been struck to check the new equipment / minting machines. Typically to check out the strike quality and adjust pressures to determine the right setting or approve quality of the new minting machines. However still quite unlikely.
The coin is 28 mm; 8.12 gms with Security edge.with the theme “IX Asian Games”. Identical to the commemorative circulation issued; however two horizontal lines with “EXP. and ”COIN” between them for “EXPERIMENTAL COIN” have been added to both obverse and reverse dies prior to striking. The 1982 commemorative 2 Rupees were minted only at Mumbai (Bombay) and Kolkata (Calcutta). No commemorative coin has been struck outside India
This example was produced by the Heaton mint as a “sample” or “experimental coin” in order to gain approval.
This was sold for USD 3500 plus 17% in 2012
Rs 1 Experimental Coin of 1983:
The coin is 25.95 mm; 5.85 gms with Security edge. The first coins in this new design and size were issued by the Mumbai Mint in the year 1982 [and is amongst the rarest definitive coins]. The design is identical to the regular circulation issue; however two horizontal lines were added to both obverse and reverse dies prior to striking. The Heaton Mint at Birmingham produced the 1 Rupee coins for circulation in 1984, with the “H” mint mark. Although not clearly marked with a mint mark, this example was produced by the Heaton mint as a “sample” or “experimental coin”, in order to gain approval.
This was sold in for USD 5250 plus 17% in 2012
Rs 1 Experimental Coin of 1985:
The 1985 there was a small change in the Lion and maybe hence there was a need to mint an Exp coin. However quite a few coins got struck with the Reverse Die having EXP COIN. These coins were never looked into in the past. Quite a few of us may have not noticed. There are quite a few luck ones who have got the coin from circulation.
Rs 2 Experimental Coin of 1993:
A Rs 2 experimental coin in Cupro-Nickel supposed to have been struck in 1993 by Calcutta mint with weight of the regular coin in circulation. The size of the Rs 2 coins was reduced in the year 1982 from the earlier size in the year 1990. There are tons of coins in circulation with the date 1992 from Bombay, Calcutta and Hyderabad Mint. Hence it is surprising to find a pattern coin with the year 1993. Again one possible reason could be to test out the new minting press.
Rs 10 Experimental coin of 2004
This was supposed to be struck when the new Rs 10 coin were being designed for the first time in the year 2004. Some how these got surfaced and were available with few select dealers. I don’t know if these are indeed pattern coins or mere fiction. Even the strike looks like basic design, the legend, denomination and other details for a coin are missing.
2003 - Rs 5 – Definitive Pattern from Mumbai Mint
This could be because Cupro-Nickel was becoming more expensive and the Mint was planning to change the metal. Nickel Brass could have been explored resulting in this pattern.
For reasons best known to Mint, the Cupro Nickel continued till 2004, and there was no coinage of Rs 5 or any other denomination for 3-4 years till mint sorted out new designs and finally started to mint coins. The Rs 5 was minted in Steel in 2007 from Kolkata with “Unity in Diversity” that had to quickly give way to IT & Connectivity theme. More about that story here.
When everything died out the Mint actually struck the Nickel-Brass coins as below for 2009 and 2010, i.e. same design of 1994 to 2004 Cupro Nickel. This is graded by NGC and went for around USD 1500 [Approx 1 lacs rupees] in 2014. continued till 2004. There was a gap of around 4 years, in the interim Stell was used for Rs 5. However the “Unity in Diversity” theme had to be canned. Thus there was only 2007 definitive coin. There were quite a commemorative in Steel during this period.
It is possible that mint may have tried the Nickel Brass in 2003 as trial strikes. The actual coins got struck only from 2009. This went for around USD 1500 in 2014.
2004 - Rs 5 – Definitive “Mudra Series” Pattern from Mumbai Mint in Bi-Metallic
2004 - Rs 10 – Definitive Pattern from Mumbai Mint in Bi-Metallic
This coin is popularly referred to as Bharmos Design pattern. I am not sure if this Pattern was struck by mint or not; however I am definitely sure that the image is not that of Bharmos Missile. The image is more of a Agni / PSLV. There are few specimen of this coin and one of them slabbed as well. Not sure how much due diligence the grade companies do, however it would not be possible for them to certify this as “Pattern” in absence of any info from Indian Mints. The date does coincide with when India began minting the Rs 10 Coin. The first coin was supposed to be struck in 2004 with the “Unity In Diversity” design. However the actual coins circulating were struck with a date of 2005 and were put into circulation only in 2009 / 2010.
Notice that the initial blanks had 2 variations, First the outer ring of Aluminium Bronze [Golden Colour] and the inner ring of Cupro-Nickel; this is currently used for circulation strike. However there are coins notice the Rs 5 pattern and the Rs 10 pattern that have the outer ring of Cupro-Nickel and the inner ring of Aluminium Bronze.
2005 - Rs 5 - 75 Years of Dandi March
The Steel was introduced into Rs 5 Coinage in September 2007 with the introduction of Definitive of “Unity in Diversity” Theme. In commemorative, the first coin to be released was the 75 Years of Dandi March, in July 2008. Although the Shastri Birth Centenary was in 2004, the coin was put into circulation only in late 2008. There were quite a few commemorative coins minted and released in both Cupro-Nickel and Stainless steel in the second half of 2008.
With this background it is possible that an EXP coin of 75 Years of Dandi March was minted to check the die pressure and strike quality required to mint the coins. However information on this is very low and I am not sure if this is authentic or not. From the strike the coin looks genuine.
2010 Rs 1 Exp Coin
The new floral design were introduced in the year 2011 across coins of 50 Paise, One Rupee, 2 Rupee and Five Rupee. These experimental coins are supposed to have been minted to test out the design and streamline the press settings. As to how these came into market is any ones guess.
2010 Rs 1 Exp Coin – Kolkata Mint
The first I saw these were around Mid 2013. The die features kind of look different from the other one of Mumbai Mint. Also the EXPT on the Obverse is in reverse. It is kind of not possible to get this incorrect. This looks more like the guy who was copying the EXPT made an mirror image. There are quite a few specimen found reported of this coin.
2010 Rs 2 Exp Coin
This one’s supposed to be minted by Hyderabad mint.
2010 50 Paise Exp Coin from Hyderabad Mint
Hyderabad Mint also supposedly struck a 50 Paise Pattern. Quite possible. There are only few known specimens of this.