The unique set of four different Soho Pattern Pice, 1795 East India Company, Bengal Presidency, European Minting, Soho, bronzed-copper Pattern Proof Pice in the name of ‘Shah ‘Alam II (1173-1221h/1759-1806), unsigned, frozen regnal yr 37 [1795+], sanah julus 37 shah alam badshah [in the 37th year of the emperor Shah ‘Alam], rev. ek pai sikka/yek pai sikka/ek pai sikka [one pai sikka], edge plain, 30mm, 14.18g/6h (Prid. 380 [Sale, lot 689]; Stevens 10.5; KM. Pn19). Practically as struck, very rare [certified and graded NGC PF 62 BN] £800-£1,000 --- Provenance: SNC (London) February 1982 (799), ticket. Owner’s ticket. Following the major currency reform in 1793 and the agitation for a new copper coinage by the assay master at Patna, the Governor-General of Bengal, Sir John Shore (1751-1834), considered the matter at some length and proposed regulations for a new copper coinage which would be struck exclusively at Calcutta and bear trilingual values. Specimens of the two denominations were approved in November 1795, bearing the recently completed 37th year of Shah ‘Alam’s reign, but the Calcutta government had seen fit to ask whether it might be better to obtain the coins from England. Although nothing came of this request (Stevens, 2012, p.166), the fact that these carefully-struck patterns exist prove that someone at the Company, most likely Robert Wissett (1750-1820), had instructed an English mint, which by definition at the time must have been Soho, to produce pieces copying the Bengali designs. Doty and Tungate are silent on the matter, except that the former (p.187) alluded to a request for manual screw presses from Calcutta in early 1796, which were finished in the summer of that year and despatched to the East in November. As there would have been time for samples of the November 1795-approved coinage to travel from Calcutta to England by the summer of 1796, could these have acted as patterns for a Soho engraver (N.-A. Ponthon?) to copy, and then for Soho to strike a few specimens on the machinery before it was sent to Calcutta?
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