Treasures: Old and Priceless

My grandfather used to keep betel nuts in an Indian Antique Hand Crafted Brass Nickel Coated casket (I copied the term for it that’s in bold above from They are selling such caskets at eighteen dollars apiece nowadays) that I assigned to myself as a thing inherited, along with an old diary of his, while he was still there to see me doing it. He did not ask me to return the things, and I never felt like doing so unasked. So, a strange transformation took place in the use of the things. The casket became my treasure chest in miniature, and the diary a veritable record of my growing years and interests.


Look at the contents of that box: few old coins, few shells collected from the sand at the banks of Gangaji, an attar container with its cork stopper still in place, but the volatile liquid long gone. In the beginning there used to emanate the fragrance of the attar from the box once it was opened. I don’t remember any such thing happening the last time I had opened the casket. There are not many coins in the casket. The oldest one is more than a century old now. When I had found it on the wall rack of our house it more than twenty years shy of the century mark. When I googled it, I found that its siblings can still be found on the net.

oldest-4-ana-2 oldest-4-ana

I came to know from the net that I have a very rare coin in my possession. Its specialty is that it was the “last coinage of British India, issued the year of Indian and Pakistani independence” (Source: As can be seen below, in the tails side, it was minted in 1947. It never occurred to me that this coin was from per-independence India. Blame it on the lion on the tails side. I used to think that it is a kind of substitute for the three lions on the Asoka Pillar

tails-1947 heads-1947

Moreover, 1947 had two parts in India: one up to the midnight of fifteenth August, and another after that. Coins have no dates, only year. It is alright for any other year, but not for the year of our independence. Now I am trying to provide an adequate excuse, and you know it. Let’s move on to some other coins that I have then, and to the Independent India.

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