ecent research has revealed that as many as fourteen mints existed
in Tipu's Mysore, and eleven of them had been established by 1789,
only six years after Tipu succeeded his father as ruler of the kingdom.
Tipu recognised the significance of his own coinage in confirming
and strengthening his authority and legitimacy - as a ruler in his
own right, not a distant vassal of the Mughal Emperor. Indeed, Tipu's
coins defied this traditional authority by adopting his own Islamic
designs, including his flag and the bubri
or tiger stripe, seen here on the copper paisa . The Tiger of Mysore
further emphasised his independence from the Emperor by stamping
on his coins Tipu's own dates of accession and regnal year , and
inscriptions such as 'The Faith of Ahmad is proclaimed to the world
by the victories of Haidar.'
Already by 1794, the highly decorative qualities of Tipu's coins
had been recognised. Edward Moor in a separate Appendix on 'Tippoo's
Coins &c' notes that 'the coins, and materials for these plates,
have been collected … from various parts of England.' Moor labours
with the transcriptions of dates and inscriptions - 'To us it is
not clear that our idea respecting the year of accession is correct….1199
was not the year of accession, but the third after it, as expressed
in the reverse here.' or 'The date of the Hejra and reign do not
accord on these coins.' Nevertheless, Moor, in apologising for these
deficiencies, points out that little reference material on the subject
existed at that time. He quotes Dirom's statement that Tipu was
the first Mahommedan prince openly to disclaim the authority of
'the king of Delhi', but then points out that 'Tippoo is not the
only prince who has presumed to impress coins with other names than
the great Moghul's' A coin of Timur Shah coin, minted in 1756, is
illustrated and described to prove the point. ' Tippoo might have
been the first to shake off the shackles of prejudice in this respect;
but he is not the only sovereign who strikes money independently
of the Great Moghul,' Moor states.
This detailed, if amateur survey of Tipu's coins includes a number
of practical observations, for example:
>'Those who look for the work Seringapatam on this coin, will be
disappointed: that name is unknown in Tippoo's country, where the
metropolis of Mysore is always call and written ptn or Puttun'
>"Struck at Bungloor" is the manner in which the fort we call Bangalore
is always written, and pronounced by the inhabitants and natives
of that part of the country'
>'By a lion and a battle-axe, Tippoo perhaps means to symbolise
his courage and prowess in war; and by the elephant …his strength
and sagacity; not possibly his own, but allegorically the courage
and strength of his people and country.'
Moor also illustrates a medal commemorating the visit of Tipu's
three ambassadors - 'Legati Tipponis Sultani victoriosi' - to Louis
XVI in Paris, and ventures an interesting comment on Tipu's
use of double meanings or 'ambiguous indefinite sentences' in his
coin inscriptions. These, he suggests, flattered Tipu's 'pious emulation,'
However, because the inscriptions could be interpreted in more than
one sense, this protected Tipu from direct accusations of impiety
or threatening ambition - aspirations which
the Mughal Emperor and Tipu's neighbours clearly suspected and feared.