The replicas of a few hundred Pestonshahi Siccas were recently created by Kayarmin F. Pestonji, the president of the Old Parsi Fire Temple Trust, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the Seth Viccaji – Seth Pestonji Meherji Parsi Fire Temple.
By Amrutha Kosuru | News Meter India
Hyderabad: The replicas of a few hundred Pestonshahi Siccas were recently created by Kayarmin F. Pestonji, the president of the Old Parsi Fire Temple Trust, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the Seth Viccaji – Seth Pestonji Meherji Parsi Fire Temple.
“The replicas have been made to honor our forefathers and bring back their memories,” said Kayarmin F. Pestonji.
The Fire Temple Trust is the first to replicate the coins.
The original coins were struck at the Aurangabad mint after the fire temple’s builders. The fire temple was built by two brothers, Seth Viccaji Meherji and Seth Pestonji Meherji of Tarapore village in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar.
Coming from a humble background, the two brothers went on to become the sole farmers of large provinces such as northern and southern Konkan, Poona, Sholapur, Ahmednagar, and part of Khandesh. They constructed cart roads, built bridges for the speedy and safe transport of merchandise, and in short, can be said to be the pioneers of the cotton trade between the Nizam’s Dominion and the Bombay Presidency.
The first replicas were made 25 years ago during the fire temple’s 150th anniversary. Each coin replica was then sold for Rs. 300. This year, very few replicas were made. They were given out as mementos to family and friends at the 175th anniversary at the fire temple.
“The replicated coins we made 25 years ago are sold at various auctions. They are being sold for Rs. 5000-7,000 while the original coins are sold at Rs. 25,000 or more,” Mr. Kayarmin said. He explained that all the coins are handmade.
The replica coins are made of pure silver and weigh between 12-13 grams (a little more than a tola). The original coin weighs almost a tola (nearly 12 grams).
Over a crore of Pestonshahi Siccas in various denominations, in both silver and copper, were struck at the mint in Aurangabad between 1832 and 1842. They were legal tender until the beginning of the 20th century. Only a few original coins remain now and are highly valued.
“The original silver coin was struck at the Aurangabad Mint, bearing the initials of Viccaji’s younger brother Pestonji Meherji. They are widely known as the Pestonshahi Sicca of the Nizam government,” Mr. Kayarmin said.
The right to strike their own coins had, for a long time, been a highly valued privilege of the Nizams. This tradition was however broken by Seth Pestonji Meherji who obtained a license from Diwan Chandulal to strike coins in Aurangabad during the period of the Nizam IV, Nasir-ud-Daula. The coins carried the Nizam’s initials, i.e., the Persian alphabet Noon (N) for Nasir-ud-Daula.
Later, the coins had the initials of the Meherji brothers. “No other family was ever permitted by the state to have its own initials or marks engraved on national coins. Pestonji Meherji introduced the popular mark, the ‘resplendent sun’, on the coins he minted. The location of this mark on the coin as well as the number of rays of the sun varied from coin to coin and there was no formula behind it,” said Arnaz Bisney, a member of the Parsi community.