Learning to Decipher the Copper Coins of Akbar Part II: Learning to Understand Dates and Numbers

On many of the copper coins of Akbar a date is inscribed on them. In general this occurs on many coins in one form or another.

On the Akbar coins the general dating used is the Hijri year calendar. In general it can be said that the coins that can be described as being Akbar's occur in the reign dates that Akbar was ruler. This is not always the case in some coin series and in our upcoming book on the coins of the Jaunpur Sultanate posthumous issues of the last formal ruler are known.

However with Akbar we have actually two series of numbering.

  1. The usual Hijri year dates.

  2. A new series of years called the Ilahi era (this will be fully discussed in our book).

Perhaps to complicate matters more some of the dates are not written in numerals but are written in alpha and sometimes only one appears on the coin. So not only do we have to learn the numeric system but also how the numbers are written in, shall we say, long hand. So this essentially adds to our problems of course. Technically if both styles of dates are on the coins then they should agree. That is to say if 989 (AH) is shown as 989 it should agree with it written and nine hundred and eighty (and) nine, or at least in a manner that represents that number.

But wait there is more. Because on certain coins we also have the month written on the coins. So now we need to learn how to read dates written on coins in two methods but also we need to learn the months. So the collecting and research possibilities here almost become endless.

Colours used for this article are as follows. They may or may not be the final colours in our work. We again advise of the copyright holding of this work by Tariq and Needham.

The next part will continue the theme of dates on coins and will work through the months as shown on specific coins. It will also show some other specific words pertaining to dates.

So let's look at first the numerals.

0 (Zero)

It is generally seen as a dot or in this case a small square. It is solid.


At this time we will settle for this as 1. Care should be taken to clearly read the number because as we will soon see there can be confusion.



Now carefully look at how it can be confused with a 2 if not looked at carefully or the die is partially clogged for example.


See how this may be confused with a 3 by casual observance. Now there is an alternative method as shown below.

4 (alternative)


Here we have a representation of 5. It can be shown in a number ways but always an open in the centre circle or close to a circle that might even be incomplete, heart shaped etc. Can be confused with a 0.


This appears to be the number 2 shown in reverse. Indeed on some coins using this numbering system the die engraver does reverse the real number.





Here we have a complete date.














Nine Hundred

One Thousand

Note: There is a technical discussion here as to whether alif (alf) actually represents 1000AH or 990AH however for this we will currently assume 1000. The technical discussion will formally appear in the upcoming book.

One Thousand

Note: Theoretical drawing. An image of sufficient quality is not yet to hand.


Wa is placed in the series of numbers and it means "and". In general it will be written as nine hundred and seventy and two for example although it may be missing at times.

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