World Coins

17th century gold Zodiac series mohur nears $150K

A gold mohur from the Mughal Empire starred during St. James’s Auction’s Nov. 30 sale in London. The coin, from a series depicting signs of the Zodiac, realized £120,000 ($148,088 U.S.).

Images courtesy of St. James’s Auctions.

A pricey Pisces led bidding during St. James’s Auctions’ Nov. 30 auction.

The gold mohur coin of the Mughal Empire realized £120,000 ($148,088 U.S.) including the 20 percent buyer’s fee during the sale in London. The coin fell below expectations, though; its pre-sale estimate was £125,000 to £150,000.

The coin was issued in Agra (India) circa 1619 by Nur al-din Muhammed Jahangir and is from a famous series of coins depicting Zodiac calendar symbols. 

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This mohur depicts two carp fish on the reverse to indicate the sign of Pisces. Silver coins in the series are rare, but are still more common than gold issues, which are usually noteworthy offerings when they come to auction. 

The zodiac series was the creation of the Emperor Jahangir himself. 

He recorded in his diary of 1619 the following record, translated by the auction house: “Previously to this, the rule of the coinage was to write my name on one side of the coin and the name of the place and the month and year of the reign on the other side. It entered my mind that in place of the month they should substitute the figure of the constellation which belonged to that month. The usage is my own, and has never been practiced before.”

The Pisces gold mohur weighs 10.94 grams and is cataloged as Friedberg 773 in Gold Coins of the World by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg. 

The obverse carries legends with the emperor’s titles and, in keeping with tradition, does not depict the emperor. 

The coin exhibits “some wear to the high points on the fish,” but is overall Good Very Fine.

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