Thursday, November 23, 2023

Is It A Forgery Or Is It A Forgery?

Hi Kris,

Thanks …..

Your classification of “FORGERIES” is rather intriguing for me – in the sense that, in the context of Bhutanese coins, what exactly is a forgery? From what I understood is that forgery is:

“The action of forging a copy or imitation of a document, signature, banknote or work of art”.

My understanding is that Bhutan’s coining journey began as a limited forgery – right from the first coinage. In some cases, they were exact copies of the Koch Narayani. From what is apparent is that Bhutan continued to forge some select Narayanis right to the early part of 1900’s.
Silver Half Rupee of Rajendra Narayan of Koch Kingdom: 1770-1772. This coin has a distinctive (X) on its reverse. The Raja was put on the Koch Kingdom throne by Bhutan. This is one of the coins forged by Bhutan. But it may not qualify as a forgery because Bhutan issued the coin mostly in copper, while all the Koch Kingdom’s coins were hammered in silver.

Also, please note the following interesting revelation:

The East India Company accuses Bhutan of producing spurious Narayanis

From the above, the East India Company that ruled most of India during the period under reference believed that Bhutan was forging Narayanis. They were wrong – I believe that Bhutan was actually hammering away real Narayanis using dies acquired forcibly from Koch Kingdom. Now, what is not clear is whether the Bhutanese were aware that they were committing forgeries – or they believed that they were producing money for use in trade with the people in the southern borders of Bhutan, as legal tender. Whatever the case may be, the act would still tantamount to forgery – whether done knowingly or unknowingly!

As one of the recognized authorities on Bhutanese coinage you would have noticed that it sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish the Bhutanese coins from that of Narayanis. To me only very few coins can truly be said to be Bhutanese - authenticated by the all-Bhutanese motifs on the coins.

Under the circumstance, I am not sure that any one coin verity can be said to be a forgery – because we do not know if those were coined by unauthorized persons, or were hammered by a ruling Je/Desi/Poenlop/Dzongpoen. Even more confusing, can we pass off a complete forgery as a legit coin - just because it was coined by a legitimate authority?

What do you think?

Bye and take care


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