The highly desirable Pridmore/Wheeler ‘Mint Specimen Set’ of the second issue silver denominations, 1808-12 East India Company, Madras Presidency, Reformation 1807-18, silver Half-Pagoda, second issue, type A/VIII, nine-tiered Gopuram of a temple flanked by 9 stars either side, surrounded by ribbon inscribed half pagoda ·, nim hun phuli [Half a star pagoda], large letters, buckle unshaded, top of Gopuram points to o of pagoda, rev. Vishnu holding sword, rising from a lotus flower, surrounded by three concentric circles of pellets, two of which are above the stalk, flanked by 16 pellets on left and 14 pellets on right, legend in Tamil and Telugu, arai pu vara kun · ara pu vara hun [Half a star pagoda], 21.34g/12h (Prid. 169 [Sale, lot 383]; Stevens 3.98; Dav. 247; KM. 353); silver Quarter-Pagoda, second issue, type P/XVI, seven-tiered Gopuram of a temple flanked by 9 stars either side, surrounded by ribbon inscribed quarter · pagoda., pau hun phuli [Quarter of a star pagoda], oval buckle with cross tongue partly shaded, rev. Vishnu holding sword in left hand, rising from a lotus flower, surrounded by two concentric circles of pellets, no pellet above or below, flanked by 11 pellets on left and 9 pellets on right, legend in Tamil and Telugu, kal vara kun · kal vara hun [Quarter of a star pagoda], 10.49g/12h (Prid. 176 [Sale, lot 383, recté 176]; Stevens 3.200; KM. 352); silver Five Fanams, second issue, type N/I, five · fanams around panj falam [Five fanams], oval buckle with cross tongue partly shaded, rev. anacu panam [Five fanams] in centre, aedu rukalu [Five fanams] around, Tamil legend facing inwards, star at top, 4.67g/12h (Prid. 182 var. [Sale, lot 383]; Stevens 3.235; KM. 351); silver Double Fanam, second issue, type M/I, double fanam on garter with short oval buckle, unshaded, around do falam [Double fanam], upper diacritical mark, rev. irantu panam [Two fanams] in centre, renddu rukalu [Two fanams] around, Tamil legend facing inwards, 1.87g/12h (Prid. 185 [Sale, lot 383]; Stevens 3.254; KM. 350); silver Fanam, second issue, type D, fanam on garter with circular buckle, around falam [Fanam], rev. ruka [Fanam] in centre, panam [Fanam] around, 0.91g/12h (Prid. 189 [Sale, lot 383]; Stevens 3.271; KM. 349) . A spectacular set in mint state, light matching tone, extremely rare [certified and graded NGC MS 65, MS 65+, MS 65, MS 65 and MS 64 respectively] £15,000-£20,000 --- Provenance: F. Pridmore Collection, Part II, Glendining Auction (London), 18-19 October 1982, lot 383 [from Baldwin], ticket Sir John Wheeler Collection, Baldwin Auction 22 (London), 2 May 2000, lot 21. In the Pridmore and Wheeler catalogues, and on Pridmore’s ticket, the Quarter-Pagoda is incorrectly described as Prid. 173. Owner’s ticket and five envelopes. In his definitive article, ‘The reformation of the coinage of Madras early in the nineteenth century’, Paul Stevens alludes to Benjamin Roebuck (1753-1809), Assay Master at the Madras mint, writing to the Chief Secretary of the Madras government on 27 November 1807, enclosing copies of two proposed proclamations and specimens of all the new coins (BNJ 1994, p.132). Proclamations and coins were to be sent to all the Collectors of the different districts within the presidency. Although Stevens does not refer to a distribution of such sets in 1808 or subsequent years, the existence of this group would infer that it was highly likely this scenario was repeated when the designs were modified
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