Featured Coins of the Maurya Empire

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SeptimusT, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Rather than necromancing an old thread, I figured I'd start a new one. My collecting interests are always pretty broad, but for the past several months I've been accumulating some silver karshapana coins of the Maurya Empire, as well as their Magadha predecessors. I'm not sure whether anyone else here is really interested in them, but I wanted to share a few of my favorites, and I'd love to see some examples that my fellow CTers might have. I'm also happy to try and ID any examples anyone might be wondering about, since I have purchased the excellent Punchmarked Coinage of the Indian Subcontinent by Gupta and Hardaker.

    These are pretty enigmatic and might not appeal to the aesthetic that most coin collectors are used to, but with a little research they can be very interesting. They can be visually pleasing for their symbols as well as for their toning and/or shape, which is highly varied. There are hundreds of rare varieties, but they can all be classified by a relatively simple system once you get the hang of it. While they cannot be attributed to specific rulers, they can be broken down into smaller chronological periods.

    Karshapana of the Magadha Janapada, ~400 - 321 BC. 2.88g, 22x19mm. G&H Series II #289; unidentified reverse undertype
    : Sun symbol, six-armed symbol, elephant, taurine and others.
    Obverse: Sun symbol, six-armed symbol, spoked wheel, taurine and others
    Series II.png

    Karshapana of the Magadha Janapada, ~370 – 321 BC. 3.25g, 19x17mm. G&H Series IVd #402
    : Sun, six-armed symbol, frog, 'caduceus,' and other marks
    Reverse: Banker's mark

    Karshapana of the Maurya Empire, Ashoka and successors, ~272 – 232 BC. 3.42g, 1413mm. G&H Series Vb #510-11

    Obverse: Sun, six-armed symbol, 'caduceus,' tree in railing symbol, deer/goat
    Reverse: Taurines symbol
    Deer Ashoka copy.png

    Karshapana of the Magadha Janapada, Ashoka and successors, ~272 – 232 BC. 3.40g, 13x11mm. G&H Series Vb 525
    Obverse: Sun, six-armed symbol, archer, 'goddess', and other symbols
    Reverse: Banker's marks

    Karshapana of the Magadha Janapada, Ashoka and successors, ~272 – 232 BC. 3.38g, 15x11mm. G&H Series VIb 570. Countermarked reverse.
    : Arched hills, sun, six-armed wheel and other marks
    Reverse: Peacock on hill and miniature steelyard weight; counter marked by three men symbol

    Karshapana, post-Mauryan (?), ~late 3rd century - early 2nd century BC. 3.48g, 13x14mm. G&H Series VII 591
    : Three men, steelyard, and peacock on hill symbols
    Reverse: Peacock on hill, banker's mark
    three men.png
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  3. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice @SeptimusT ! It's not my specialty, but I do have a few punchmark coins in my collection. Here's one from Magadha, G-H# 443, assigned by Mitchiner to Time of the Eight Sons of Mahapadma Nanda (c.346-321 BC):
    And one from the Mauryans, G-H #587, attributed by Mitchiner to the Period of Samprati (c.217-206 BC):
    Mauryan Samprati.jpg
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Interesting! I've seen these in a few dealer's bins before they are cool but they were daunting and I wasn't sure how to identify them.
    SorenCoins likes this.
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ..i have a couple of non silvers in my ancient India collection.....does anyone else have trouble unloading pics?...i get an error message 90% of the time..and while i don't anything pressing to do, i dont' have time for that..
  6. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Nice coins!....I do find these intriguing!...Love the 3 figures stamp!
    Mine apparently attributed to Devadharman-Devavarman?
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Those are cool, @SeptimusT ! I like how all the incuse punchmark designs makes for a tapestry-like effect. The thread was very educational, too. It's always interesting to read outside of ones pet area.
    SorenCoins likes this.
  8. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Love these for a while. Still trying for one of those bars. Anyway, here’s what I do have:
    80835479-9E0D-4D8E-BCE0-4BB2EE45D126.png 101208E7-B835-4A61-BDE7-E002B374D1E9.png
  9. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist

    These are fun and interesting - only have two though (and one is more easily identifiable than the other):


    Mauryan Empire
    King Ashoka & Successors, 270-175/50 B.C.
    AR Karshapana, 16.2 x 12.61mm x 4 grams
    Obv.: five punchmarks, mark one: 468 (sun symbol); two: 392 (Six-Armed Symbol); three: 374 (arches); four: 15 (three circles and line); five: 142 (human)
    Rev.: One punchmark: 15 (three circles and line)
    Ref.: Gupta & Hardaker 566, Series VIb, type VI IV C 142.


    Mauryan Empire
    Anonymous, 321-187 B.C.
    AR Karshapana, 17.08x11.94 mm x 2.7 grams
    Obv.: 4 (5?) punchmarks
    Rev.: Undetermined punchmark
    Ref.: (G&H 227 Type I XXXII A 2 ? Too small)
  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I tried to get interested in these but, as too often the case, soon moved on to other coins without giving the attention required. The skill here is being able to recognize small parts of some marks and not be distracted by the nearly pervasive six arm and sun marks. When buying from unidentified lots, I found myself accumulating 'duplicates' of a couple types (like GH574) to the point I had to refer to them by shapes. The book even has a section on 'unclear' coins and the coins I saw and could make neither up nor down of some marks was all I needed to move on. I do believe the GH book is a great effort and their excellent photos and drawings made seeing the ID's of the plate coins easy. Translating that to my 'ordinary' coins did not prove immediately obvious. Do not take my ID guesses too seriously. They are not guaranteed.

    GH574 (My Indiana)
    GH 574 My round

    GH 574 My square


    GH 586 There are three separate punches for the three men - I failed to find one with the three together on one punch.
    I paid Don Zauche $7 for this one as a challenge to see if I could ID it but it turned out to be over my head. I thought the five dot 'die' would make it easy. It did not.
  11. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE



    India Maurya ser VIB AR Karshapana punchmark 270-175 BC ASHOKA

    India Mauryan or Sanga 3.4g Rect

    India Mauryan or Sanga 3
  12. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    Try to get them with two connected dots... much scarcer.

    I found mine with TWO sets of two connected dots (one set on each side). Was told this was very rare. Kinda lucked into this one:

    India Gandahara AR Bent Bar 11.3g  650-600 BCE RARE two dots - also have on BOTH sides VERY RARE.jpg
    India Gandahara AR Bent Bar 11.3g  RARE - 2 Dots on one side-VERY Rare on BOTH sides.jpg
    India Gandahara AR Bent Bar 11.3g 650-600 BCE RARE two dots - also have on BOTH sides VERY RARE
  13. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    I would say that last one is impossible. Its very probable its GH 320 since that is a very common type, and four of the symbols match. There is a line which is the edge of the missing symbol which is probably the "fish-in-tank" symbol. There are a few possible alternatives, like 332 etc, but I think those are all rare.

    Rob T
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
    robanddebrob and Magnus Maximus like this.
  14. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums

    I only have two punchmarked coins, and only one Mauryan. Lacking the G&H book I've never ID'd it so would gladly take you up on your offer! :)

    Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 2.11.29 PM.jpg
    It looks to be the same as @Spaniard's and the type Doug lists as GH 574.

    My other (non-Magadha/Mauryan) is allegedly rare. I bought it as Vatsa Janapada, unpublished variant of Rajgor Series 78 type 1210:
    Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 2.26.02 PM.jpg
    One of the punchmarks is supposed to be a scorpion, but I'm not sure which - there are two on the reverse that both look a bit scorpionish. Probably the one just above the centre?
  15. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE


    Gandhara Janapada.
    6th - 5th Century BCE
    AR Shana, or 1/8 Shatamana, 15mm, 1.4g.
    Obv.: Six armed Taxila symbol with pellet between arms.
    Rev.: Blank as made.
    Reference: Pieper 12; Mitchner 4079ff; HGC 12, 763; Rajgor Series 41
    From the @Sallent Collection, Ex Ken Dorney

    I failed to post this last Wednesday, 8-April, on Buddha's Birthday. I am sure he is ok with my tardiness. Namaste.
    India -
    Shakya Janapada
    AR 5-Shana
    6th-5th Century BCE
    25mm x 21mm, 7.05g
    Obv: Central Pentagonal punch plus several banker's marks
    Rev: Blank
    Ref: Hirano Type I.8.29
    19 known.
    Coinage from the Ghaghara Gandak River region
    Minted in the Shakya Janaprada during Siddhārtha Gautama's (Later the Buddha) lifetime while he was prince, and under the authority of his father as King
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
  16. SorenCoins

    SorenCoins Well-Known Member

    I have seen these coins before and would love to get into them. I find them seriously intriguing and mystifying in nature. Perhaps I too should get this book someday. I don't have any of these punch-marked coins, yet!

    It's true! I never thought about it that way, but they do take on that interesting appearance, like a tapestry telling a story.

    I couldn't help but laugh at "My Indiana." :)
    dougsmit and Severus Alexander like this.
  17. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    I recently acquired a set of three pre-Mauryan, Magadha Janapada.


    INDIA. Magadha.
    5th-4th centuries BC.
    AR square punch-marked karshapana, 15mm, 3.2g.
    Obv.: 5 Punches.
    Rev: blank, as made.
    Reference:GH 450, series IVd.

    INDIA. Magadha.
    5th-4th centuries BC.
    AR round punch-marked karshapana, 17mm, 3.4g.
    Obv.: 5 Punches.
    Rev: blank, as made.
    Reference:GH 464, series IVd

    INDIA. Magadha.
    5th-4th centuries BC.
    AR rectangular punch-marked karshapana, 23x11mm, 3.3g.
    Obv.: 5 Punches.
    Rev: bankers marks.
    Reference:GH 468, series IVd.

    I also came across this very interesting video about Ashoka...

  18. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I suspect EWC3 is right about Doug's mystery coin being GH 320, but I hadn't been able to ID it myself. Seems plausible! And @Severus Alexander's is 574, like Doug's other coin. Some really cool coins here, especially @Alegandron's Shakya coin!

    For anyone interested in getting Gupta-Hardaker, Printasia.com has the most affordable copy that I've seen, at least in the US.
  19. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist

    if you’re a member of the ANA, you can also borrow a copy from their library (that’s what I did anyway...)
    SorenCoins, Alegandron and SeptimusT like this.
  20. TuckHard

    TuckHard Well-Known Member

    Here is my best punchmarked coin! I don't know much about it but it was sold as a Mauryan karshapana. I don't have the weight right now but it's pretty fair, maybe 3-4g if I hda to guess.

  21. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    I have one too, bought thinking I'd figure it out someday... but don't know where to start. Anyone have any idea of what I have here?

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