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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Proof set: First war of independence

first war of independence coverObverse

first war of independence obverseReverse
first war of independence reverse5 rupee copper nickel
first war independence 5 rupee copper-nickel100 rupee obverse
100 rupee 150 years first war of independence100 rupee reverse
100 rupee 150 years first war of independence reverse

This set was released on the completion of 150 years of the first war of independence. The reverse shows two persons firing a cannon at the bottom and some warriors on horseback flanked by the figures of Bahadur Shah Zafar on the right and Tatya Tope on the left, who were two cogs in the wheel of the war. Bahadur Shah zafar was the last Mughal emperor. He was the ruler of Delhi and was also the weakest link in the revolt. The East India company made its arrival in India during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir at around 1616 AD. They came originally as traders, but slowly and steadily kept expanding their reach and influence. Their aspirations and desires grew in India and one by one, they started to take over different princely states and sultanates by agreement, by deceit, and also by conquest. Many states were taken over through the doctrine of lapse, which stated that any adopted heir was not recognised as a legal heir, and the rulers like rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi thought of this as an interference in the traditional inheritance policy. Unrest grew among the princely states as one by one the British were usurping power from the princes. Most of the practices followed by the British were also not acceptable to the strictly religious Indians. One such practice was the supposed use of pork and beef in bullet cartridges in the enfield rifles that were being given to the Indian sepoys employed by the British. Pork is taboo for Muslims and beef is anathema for Hindus. So Muslims and Hindus both were agitated by the British rule and practices. In march 1857, Mangal Pandey refused to use the enfield rifles that were provided to them and this was the trigger in the outbreak of the revolt, the seeds of which had been fomenting for quite a time. One by one, the different states declared war on the British during that year only. Eminent leaders in the war for independence from British rule included rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, Tatia Tope, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Tipu Sultan, Rani Chennamma, begum Hazrat Mahal, Nana Saheb Peshwa and the 80 year old Kunwar Singh of Bihar. Most of the revolt was on the part of the aristocracy who were highly insecure because of their reign being taken over by the British. The participation on the part of the zamindars, taluqdars and the peasantry was very limited.

Mangal Pandey's fellow regiment men refused to arrest him, but he was unable to incite an open rebellion on their part. He tried to fire himself with his musket for his failure, but only wounded himself. He was later court martialled and hanged. The fallback of the rebellion started by Mangal Pandey was that it was not organized revolt, everyone declared war one by one. Had the revolt broken out in a coordinated manner, the British would have had their hands full. Another reason for the failure of the revolt was the non-participation of the sikhs and the pathans of North West Frontier Province and Punjab. Most people believe that this was because earlier the British had annexed Punjab only because the British had got inside help from Purbias(Bengalis and Marathis- Easterner), and the sepoys were despised far more than the British by these communities at that time.

So as a foregone conclusion, the revolt was crushed and every involved person had to face dire consequences. A no prisoner policy was adopted and mass executions were carried out with muskets , and also a large number of people were bound to cannons and blown to bits, like the Namdhari Sikhs. Bahadur shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon where he died later. Many leaders were blown by cannons, and there was large scale massacre. Women were spared but the men and the children were heartlessly killed. And I am talking of civilians , who did not take part in the revolt. Shockingly, the brutal aftermath of the reconquest was approved and also lauded of back in England as some accounts said the orientals had done wrong to the Europeans there , and that several young European girls were raped by them. Still , some people in the British army themselves did not approve of the inhuman and savage acts of suppression. People like Karl Marx have pointed out that the accounts of Indians acting as uncivilized and brutal people were biased , and in some cases, the person giving the account was not even present at the mentioned event.

The conclusion of the revolt of 1857 was that there was mass, brutal suppression and the Crown of England, at that time Queen Victoria took over the reins of colonial domination, and she became Empress Victoria.

The mint mark 'M' below the date indicates that this coin is a proof coin and struck in the Mumbai mint.


  1. Very useful, information and encouraging posts. Huge thanks!
    Can you please help me to know how to get proof set coins? Thanks! my mail id is

  2. Hi Kulraj,
    I'm reposting my request here. Can you please help me knowing how could I get proof set coins? My mail id is or you could let me know yours so that we can exchange mails.

    Thanks a lot!

  3. my contact is given at the bottom.
    You can also add me on gtalk if you want:

  4. Hi Kulraj,

    Even I am a budding coin collector; I have sent you a gtalk add request today (15-May-10 7.30 pm IST)

  5. want to sell my coin collection for rs 50000
    interested may contact me on

  6. Does This 5Rs Independence Coin of Nickle ever minted for circulation

  7. I myself am not sure but take it to be not circulated.