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Pattern Coins of India


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.

1947 – Nickel Proof’s Mules

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.



1949 Pattern Coins by Patrick Brindley:


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.



A Variation of the Peacock design without star on the Reverse surrounding Ashoka Lion Capitol








1956 Pattern Coins


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]

1960 One Rupee Pattern Coin:


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.




1962 One Rupee Pattern Coin:


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.




1964 One Rupee Commemorative Pattern Coin:


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.






1964 50 Paise Commemorative Pattern Coin:



1967 20 Paise Pattern Coin:


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.



Other Coins:
There are a whole bunch of other coins that are described as pattern, but there is not general consensus around these. Some of these could be pattern or what is generally accepted as tailor made by someone in the mint to someone else outside for some consideration. I do not know the answers here. If someone has more insights, please feel free to inform / correct me.

1981 World Food Day:


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.





EXP COINS:


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.

1977 Experimental Coin:


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.


Rs 2 Asian Games Experimental Coin of 1982:
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 amonst 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 at USD 2250 plus 17% in 2012

Rs 2 Experimental Coin of 1984:

The coin is 31 mm; 12.65 gms with Security edge. The obverse displays the traditional Asoka lion pedestal and the countries name encircled by an ornate design. The reverse feature the denomination encircled by the same ornate design as the obverse. Both obverse and reverse dies have two sets of horizontal lines with “EXP. and ”COIN” between them for “EXPERIMENTAL COIN” which has been added to the dies prior to striking. This example was produced by the Heaton mint as a “sample” or “experimental coin” in order to gain approval and is similar in nature to a pattern or essay.

This was sold in NYINC for USD 5250 plus 17% in 2012 

Rs 1 Experimental Coin of 1985:

I have no clue as to why this coin was minted and whether this is genuine. Notice the EXP COIN on the obverse. The wear looks quite a bit, indicating this was from circulation. However the date does not match. The smaller coins were introduced in the year 1983 and a die use initially finding its way 2 years later is slightly far fetched.


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.
Image Credits: Tody Auctions

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 mear fiction. Even the strike looks like basic design, the legend, denomination and other details for a coin are missing.



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 anyones guess.

Image Credits – Rajgor Auctions


2010 Rs 2 Exp Coin

This one’s supposed to be minted by Hyderabad mint.

Image Credits – Rajgor Auctions

















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