Long Beard's Blog

27 Apr 2021

Funding An Empire

Coins-World | Long Beard

Two-hundred and forty-eight years ago today, April 27. 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. Unfortunately, few have been taught in public school about this important event, intended to serve another purpose, other than the resulting Boston Tea Party eight months after it's implementation. So keeping to the theme of weekly blogs, we'll examine a subject which shaped not only the as of yet United States of America but the world. Enjoy!

As the sixteenth century closed, the world as we know it was nearing the height of exploration. Vast new lands beyond the horizon had been discovered, and with it came trade. Seeing the tremendous potential, Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to the East India Company in 1600 for establishment of the trade between the far east and Britain. With spices and goods flowed steadily west, returning vessels were burdened with bullion and coin from Britain to purchase more. To explain the scope and power of the East India Company in modern terms, Amazon would be but a small town mom and pop corner store.By the middle of the century the EIC had changed the world's thinking and people, with unlimited possibilities it shaped commerce and cities. Even entire countries. With the expansion of trade and an empire to fund, by 1670 bullion and coin from Britain struggled to keep pace. Having such power and influence, in 1671, King Charles II granted the East India Company the right to coin it's own monies. Not other company to date has been officially authorized by a government to do so.

The first EIC mint was established on the Indian island of Bombay in 1672. In agreement with neighboring Surat, and in accordance with British regulations set forth in the charter, the coining of EIC Rupees of that city would be struck in Bombay. By law, the companies coinage had to be a representation of the country in which it was struck. In this case, on the obverse a representation of Surat with the usual Persian characters on it's reverse. Also that year, at a second mint, silver Sicca Rupees of Bengal were also struck in that country. Another important mint, in Madras, struck Rupee and Pice bearing Arcot (the city in which the mint resided) on the obverse. Of the 14 mints which the East India Company established, those three funded the greatest portion of the British East Indies. One final mint of importance is that for St. Helena, a tiny inhabited island of the south Atlantic half way between Africa and South America. The proverbial middle of nowhere if there ever was a place. It was here, on the return trips from India and China, that ships would port for resupply. So important that the fort of St. George was erected to defend it.

By now you must be wondering what that has to do with the Tea Act or today's date. For writing purposes it was best to explain the reason from it's beginning. After nearly three-quarters of a century, the British East India Company had gotten too big to fail and teetered on bankruptcy. Knowing full well that their failure would cripple the crown both at home and abroad, King George III demanded that parliament act lest the unthinkable happen. It fell upon British Prime Minister, Frederick, Lord of the North to initiate legislation, whereby the crown would reduce the tax paid by the honorable East India Company. A tax that was only reduced in Britain, not the colonies, the latter seeing an increase. Even with the Company having a monopoly on tea coming into the colonies, the illegally smuggled Dutch Tea was still more expensive than the taxed British tea. It was simply the principal of the tax which further angered the American Colonists.

All images were sourced from the internet.

Image one and two, Merrack

Image three, Londoncoin.uk

Image four, NGC

Image five, PCGS



Level 5

Always interesting to read the history of the world.


Level 5

Good Stuff! Everything connects. It's like the ripple effect from the stone hitting the water. Nothing happens in a vacuum. For every action, there is a reaction. Excellent write-up!


Level 6

Really enjoyed your blog! The history is great! Thanks for the nice photos too!


Level 6

Fantastic history. I do remember learning this in school. That was a long, long time ago. I doubt it is touched now. Thanks a lot for the refresher. I enjoyed it and your photos and sources. Thanks.


Level 7

I like the history and the coins. I enjoyed it very much. . You always keep my attention. Thanks for that.


Level 6

Nice blog. Liked the history lesson.


Level 5

Amazing times. To sail the oceans back then must of been something. Thanks for a great blog.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Wonderful history lesson, Long Beard. I really enjoyed the read.

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