World Coins

Medal in Album auction marks British victory over French in India

A bronze medal for the 1761 Siege of Pondicherry in India is offered in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ next auction, with a pre-sale estimate of $800 to $1,000.

Images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

The British colonization of India dominates the discourse of those exploring the impact of colonization on the continent, but other colonizers were there as well.

Britain successfully, if only temporarily, ousted the French from Pondicherry in 1761, leading to the creation of a gorgeous bronze medal for the event.

The medal is being offered by Steven Album Rare Coins in the firm’s auction No. 39, being sold Jan. 21 to 25.

The Siege of Pondicherry was part of the Third Carnatic War, a conflict that was part of the broader Seven Years’ War. British land and naval forces besieged the city on Sept. 4, 1760, and continued through Jan. 15, 1761, until the French garrison defending the French colonial outpost of Pondicherry surrendered. (In 1765 the British would, under terms of a treaty, return the city to the French, who would in turn, eventually, cede the lands to the newly independent India in 1947.)

Thomas Pingo designed the Pondicherry Taken medal, which shows a head of King George III on the obverse.

The reverse shows Victory standing, writing on a shield. Palm trees and paddles flank the water of the Indus and Ganges rivers. The inscription “Pondicherry taken MDCCLXI, total expulsion of the French from India” also appears.

The names Coote and Steevens, engraved by Victory on the shield, refer to the two British commanders, Adm. Sir Eyre Coote and Rear Adm. Charles Steevens, who were successful in the capture of Pondicherry.

The medal measures 40 millimeters in diameter and has an estimate of $800 to $1,000.

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