By Arthur Needham

The original theory placed by co-author Mohammed Tariq Ansari of placing colour overlays on coin inscriptions to demonstrate what was being inscribed on the coins phrase for phrase. This was especially important for coin series that were completely inscribed rather than having any other depictions on them. Often these coins are produced from dies larger than the blank coin flans and parts of the inscriptions are missing from the final strike.

For research and collecting purposes it is fundamental that the complete details of the inscriptions are understood so that a complete history by ruler (and by mint and date) of coin issues can be completed.

The overlay by carefully chosen colour combinations enabled the inscriptions to be fully understood and learned. There was frequently a necessity to combine a number of coins to discover the full coin inscriptions. This is particularly important where inscriptions are in couplet format and part of the couplet may be technically on the edge of the die. We try to complete full inscriptions on each illustrated coin. In one or two instances in rare coins this has not been possible.

The ability to clearly define the actual inscriptions on coins brought into focus the clear necessity to review the previously presented translations of the inscriptions on the coins we were working on.

Translation of the Inscriptions

From a comprehensive review of the translations offered both of Mughal coins and some of the Sultanate coins it was found that the previously offered translations were somewhat unsympathetic to the fundamental original meaning. Together with the initiating of the colour coding overlay the inscriptions were retranslated to English.

The initial work on Shah Alam I and the pre accession claimants provided a simple introduction for the system. Although the pre-accession claimants issued coins with couplets the main body of work had simple inscriptions.

The success of this led to the work on Jahandar Shah noting that all coins had couplets and so did those of the pre-accession. The expansion of the work proved successful.

These two works required translation from Persian. Following this it was decided to work on the coins of the Jaunpur Sultanate. This presented work in Arabic with a different concept of the meaning of the translations of the inscriptions. Again it was necessary to retranslate the inscriptions in a number of cases and to provide and expanded information section on the meaning of words and phrases. The manuscript will be our next publication.

The system was completely tested and found to be highly effective not only across Persian and Arabic but also across all languages used on coins from the greater sub-continent where examples have been tested and reviewed for all major coinage issues. The system of dedicated colour coding of inscriptions is fully effective when specific colours are nominated for known sections of the inscriptions across all rules and dynasties.

General Coding and Metrology Coding.

Each coin type required a coding system that adequately described the Ruling dynasty, the ruler, the mint (with epithet if necessary), the metal, the size and the different inscription types. The system had been devised and worked in conjunction with the colour overlay system. On the advice of numismatist and researcher Stephen Album an abbreviated system of coding was devised for sales cataloguing.

The coin metrology for the initial work on the two Mughal rulers was simple. Looking at the Sultanate research to finally prove the system produced a number of problems. The standard method was to use common names which were often confusing. For example the word tanka could mean a number of sizes and a number of different metals. The introduction of the UNIT system has been tested across all major issues and found to be highly effective (see our previous narratives on the UNIT system).


The use of the dedicated colour coding overlay system for depicting the actual coin inscriptions has technically revolutionised coin study, identification and knowledge. When coupled with the dedicated coin coding system a basis for complete and accurate recording of all coin issue types becomes comparably simple.

There has been a failure in sub-continent coin research to accurately record actual changes in coin design (not minor changes due to die maker’s variations) and this has led to an inability to correctly collect or study all issues. There clearly annotated photographs and coding ensures all known types are recorded. Careful reviews are showing new types can still be discovered.

The work also now allows for collectors and researchers to concentrate on coins that can be completely attributed. For collectors it now also allows for complete coin inscriptions with all relevant details to be collected efficiently. With coin grading companies starting to issue gradings of hand struck coins there must be an understanding that only coins that can be fully attributed should be graded. Coins that can be fully attributed should be valued higher (in any condition) than coins that are lacking attribution details. In fact graded coins that are incomplete in attribution should be clearly marked as incomplete.

Preparing Our Illustrations as Artwork.

Since the introduction of the overlay colour coding on coins there has been a call for the illustrations in our books (and those prepared for further publications) to be made available to museums and other institutions and the general public.

It would be possibly a simple process to produce cheap copies from our base work but given how the illustrations are produced and printed in our books there has been a considerable amount of time spent on researching the best possible reproduction methods given both the problems some illustrations have and the opportunities presented by the illustration method.

There has been in recent times a number of attempts at trying to copy the methods. While these naturally look pretty, there is no technical background or reasoning for the colours used. Anything new and effective will be copied without attribution to the originators.

It was necessary to research the best possible method and medium to present our illustrations with a small number of variations to completely describe what was being shown. Note that the translations are only currently available in English. There are a large number of cheap printing suppliers available but, as with all of our work, the best practical quality was necessary for the best long term results.

Digital Fine Art Media

Hanhnemuhle Canvas FineArt Daguerre Canvas.

400 gsm, Poly-cotton-mix

Bright white

Fine, uniform canvas texture

Matt premium inkjet coating for outstanding print results

Acid- and lignin-free

ISO 9706 conform / museum quality for highest age resistance

Compatible with pigment and dye inkjet systems

ICC-profiles available on

Printing and Print Ink

Epson 990 printer with archival quality Epson 11 colour ink system.

All work is protected by Hahnemuhle protective Spray.


Generally supplied unframed due to the extra shipping cost however framing can be arranged in simple white framing. Note: the framing is wood free. A number of countries require wood to be pre-treated for certain pests and therefore it was thought to be prudent to only supply framed prints wood free.


Unframed: In protective roll tracked.

Framed: Suitably packaged for shipment. Extra shipping costs will accrue.

Letter of Authenticity

Despatched from a separate location.


Canvas measurements. 12”x18” 16”x24” 20”x30” 24”x36” Other sizes by discussion.

Image Styles Available.

Samples are shown below. All illustrations are available.

Special private collection drawings available by private treaty.

Standard Illustration with Issuer’s Name

Standard with English Translation

Special with Translation and Couplet Description

(for Coins with Couplets Only)

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