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Rhodes collection at Spink

Spink London has issued an early warning of the firm’s Sept. 27 sale of Part II of the North East Indian coins from the Nicholas Rhodes collection.

Nicholas Rhodes is widely acknowledged to have assembled one of the finest and most extensive collections of the coinage of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, the former North East Indian Kingdoms of Assam, Tripura, Cooch Behar, Jaintiapur, Kachar and Manipur, as well as numerous Indian hill states.

Rhodes super-rarity: octagonal rupee from Assam struck in the name of Jayadhvaja Simha (1648-63). The obverse shows a crudely engraved Chinese character “bao,” within square; the reverse the Chinese character “zang” written mirror-image with a date of 1570 beneath. This coin is probably unique and has never before been offered at auction. It carries an estimate of £5,000-f £10,000 [$7,000-$14,000]. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Rhodes super-rarity: octagonal rupee from Assam struck in the name of Jayadhvaja Simha (1648-63). The obverse shows a crudely engraved Chinese character “bao,” within square; the reverse the Chinese character “zang” written mirror-image with a date of 1570 beneath. This coin is probably unique and has never before been offered at auction. It carries an estimate of £5,000-f £10,000 [$7,000-$14,000]. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

The coins range from serious top-end rarities to far more modest items. Most are documented in numerous articles and books authored by Rhodes. He was a major contributor to Krause Publications’ “Standard Guide to South Asian Coins and Paper Money since 1556.” As such his coins come with a provenance second to none.

The collection is so extensive that Spink has split it into several sections. The first two were sold in 2013: the Tibetan coins and Part I of those from North East India. Both met with widespread acclaim.

Another Rhodes super-rarity: tanka of the first ruler of Tripura, Ratna Manikya (1464-89). Obverse has lion surrounded by legend [Sri Narayana Charana Para Ratnapure 1386]; reverse human-faced winged dragon probably representing Narasimha, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The coin is believed unique and has never before been offered at auction. It carries an estimate of £5,000-£10,000 [$7,000-$14,000]. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Another Rhodes super-rarity: tanka of the first ruler of Tripura, Ratna Manikya (1464-89). Obverse has lion surrounded by legend [Sri Narayana Charana Para Ratnapure 1386]; reverse human-faced winged dragon probably representing Narasimha, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The coin is believed unique and has never before been offered at auction. It carries an estimate of £5,000-£10,000 [$7,000-$14,000]. Image courtesy and © Spink London.

Just two of Rhodes’ rarities are illustrated here by way of example of the quality and depth of his collection. Both could well be unique. Both have never before been offered at auction. Both are in superior grade.

Rhodes regarded the 17th century octagonal Assam rupee of Jayadhvaja Simha as, “perhaps the most remarkable of all Ahom coins.” Each side carries a Chinese character that together read “zang bao”. Rhodes translates this as “Currency of Tibet”. Tibet borders northern Assam and the coin presumably indicates that there was significant contact between Tibet, China and Assam in the mid-17th century. Possibly the issue was an Assamese-Tibetan trade coin. By the way, the same two Chinese characters appear on coins struck by the Chinese in Lhasa between 1792 and 1836.

Ratna Manikya (1464–89) was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Tripura and the first to issue coins. Much of his currency was experimental.

For more wait for the catalog on www.spink.com/find-auctions.aspx.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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