From available records, the first silver Thala was struck in 1928 – corresponding to the year of the Earth Dragon (Tsa Druk), in the Lunar Calendar. Because of an error that was detected in the die, a second lot of 30,000 silver Thalas were struck in the following year, or in the year 1929, corresponding to year of the Earth Snake (Tsa Drue), in the Lunar Calendar. The erroneously spelt “Druk” was duly corrected and the following coin became available in the Bhutanese market as a legal tender:
The Thala that was reissued in 1929 with the corrected word "Druk"
But hang on a minute - the markings on the reverse of the above coin shows that the coin was struck in the Lunar Year of Tsa Druk (1928) and not in the Lunar Year Tsa Drue (1929) when it was actually struck. How is that possible?
It is possible because while the Bongs and the Brits were pointed out that the word “Druk” on the obverse of the coin needed to be corrected because it was erroneously rendered - the careless Drups forgot to tell them that the reverse of the coin’s die also needed to be changed because it depicted the year of coinage. So the clueless Bongs or the Brits of the time used the same old reverse die that was cast with the 1928 year-mark, thinking that a die is, after all, a die!
So the epochal Thala started its journey with a grossly scarred face that got corrected a year later, but ended up taking yet another journey with a contorted behind!
The third leg of the Thala’s journey began in 1950, when a substantial number of them were once again struck in the same Calcutta Mint, this time in nickel. One would have expected that its honor would be redeemed, atleast the third time around. No such luck for the tormented Thala. Once again it was struck with yet another error, as shown below:
The 1950 Thala with correct year of coinage but with the word "Druk" rendered wrongly. It appears that the obverse die of 1928 coinage was used to strike this coin
As you can see, the year of coinage depicted on the reverse of the coin is accurate – “Chaag Taag Lo” – Iron Tiger Year (1950). But look at the obverse - the word “Druk” is yet again erroneously rendered. The “Ba-ra-ta-da” is once again disconnected. This means that the Bongs or the Brits crafted a new die for the reverse of the coin, but used the faulty die of 1928 for the obverse of the coin.
God Almighty! Is this never going to end?
No, because the mistakes are repeated again and again and again – as my next Blog will show - leading me to believe that perhaps the errors were not mistakes. Could that be possible? We will never know.
Rendered below is a calendar depicting the Lunar Years corresponding to the Gregorian Years - so you can make the connections.