During the early years of his reign, Akbar adopted the currency system of his predecessors and made only nominal modifications, such as (a) the insertion of his name, (b) titles, (c) place, and (d) year of mintage on his coins. His mints were in charge of minor officers called chaudharis, and there was little coordination between the various mints.
In 1577, Akbar undertook the reform of the currency and appointed Khwaja Abdus Samad Shirazi, a noted painter and calligraphist, to be the superintendent of the imperial mint in Delhi. All the mints at provincial headquarters, which had hitherto been under chaudharis, were placed under more responsible officers who were required to work under the supervision of Abdus Samad. The Delhi staff under Abdus Samad consisted of a daroga (assistant superintendent), a sarafi, an amin, a treasurer, a mushrif, a weighman, a melter of ore, a plate maker, and a merchant whose duty was to supply gold, silver, and copper. A similar staff must have existed in each of the provincial mints in Lahore, Jaunpur, Ahmedabad, Patna, and Tanda.
The mint issued gold, silver, and copper coins. The silver coin known as the rupee was round in shape, like its modern successor, and weighed 172 grains. Akbar also issued a square rupee called “Jalali,” but it was not as common and popular as the circular rupee. The rupee had its one-half, one-fourth, one-eighth, one-sixteenth, and one-twentieth pieces. The chief copper coin was the ‘paisa’ or ‘dam’. It weighed 323-5 grains or almost 21 grams. The ratio between the dam and rupee was 40:1. The lowest copper coin was the ‘jital,’ and 25 ‘jitals’ made one ‘paisa’. The most common gold coin was the ilahi, which was equal to ten rupees in value. The biggest gold coin was the ‘Shahanshah,’ which weighed a little over 101 tolas and must have been used in high-value business transactions. All the coins of various metals were characterized by ‘purity of metal, fullness of weight, and artistic execution’. They bore calligraphic inscriptions containing the name and titles of the emperor and the place and year of mintage. Only a few coins had figures inscribed upon them, probably intended to be commemorative medals.
Akbar deserves high praise for placing the currency on a sound scientific foundation, and his coins have been highly spoken of by modern numismatists. According to Vincent Smith, “Akbar deserves high credit for the excellence of his extremely varied coinage, as regards purity of metal, fullness of weight, and artistic execution. The Mughal coinage, when compared with that of Queen Elizabeth or other contemporary sovereigns in Europe, must be pronounced far superior on the whole. Akbar and his successors seem never to have yielded to the temptation of debasing the coins in either weight or purity. The gold in many of Akbar’s coins is believed to be practically pure.
Akbar’s dedication to maintaining the integrity of the currency is deserving of high praise. His meticulous attention to detail and commitment to ensuring purity of metal, fullness of weight, and artistic execution in his coinage set a remarkable standard. Modern numismatists have spoken highly of Akbar’s coins, acknowledging their exceptional quality.
When comparing the Mughal coinage to that of Queen Elizabeth and other contemporary European sovereigns, it becomes evident that Akbar’s coins surpass them in terms of craftsmanship and overall excellence. Unlike his counterparts who succumbed to the temptation of debasing coins by reducing their weight or purity, Akbar and his successors remained steadfast in their commitment to maintaining the highest standards.
It is worth noting that many of Akbar’s gold coins are believed to be practically pure, a testament to the meticulousness with which they were minted. The intrinsic value of these coins was not compromised, further solidifying their reputation as a reliable medium of exchange during Akbar’s reign.
The enduring legacy of Akbar’s currency regulation lies in its scientific foundation and adherence to principles that ensured stability and trust in the economic system. By placing competent officers in charge of the mints and centralizing their supervision, Akbar established a cohesive and efficient system. This reform strengthened the control and coordination between provincial mints, ensuring a standardized and consistent approach to minting coins.
To Conclude, Akbar’s reign witnessed a significant advancement in the regulation of currency. His coins, characterized by their purity, weight, and artistic beauty, reflect the meticulousness and vision of a ruler dedicated to excellence in all aspects of governance. Akbar’s contribution to the field of numismatics continues to be recognized and celebrated, underscoring his enduring legacy as a visionary leader in the realm of currency regulation.