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Trial striking of a silver 1 baht of Rama IV Mongkut

 

Diameter: 32.000 mm
Weight: 15.690 g

Gift of the Earl of Clarendon

CM 1857-11-4-2

Coins and Medals

    Trial striking of a silver 1 baht of Rama IV Mongkut

    Minted in England, AD 1857
    Bangkok dynasty, kingdom of Siam (modern Thailand)

    Thoroughly modern Mongkut

    Mongkut (reigned 1851-68), famous in the West as the hero of the musical The King and I, was an enthusiastic moderniser who opened up his country to foreign trade. His first coining press and dies were a personal gift from Queen Victoria of England. This proof coin is a trial striking made in England, using the dies and machinery before they were dispatched to Thailand. The coins were initially used only as presentation gifts by the king, but he was so impressed that he soon obtained the full equipment for a machine mint from Birmingham. In his royal edict of 17 September 1860, he announced his decision to issue a European-style coinage. He thus hoped to end the damaging effect on trade caused by a difference in the fineness of silver between the local currency and the imported Mexican dollars that were being used in ever-increasing quantities as bullion.

    The coin shows the standard design of both the silver and gold denominations issued by Mongkut. The obverse (front) depicts the Siamese crown with rays of light radiating above, flanked by leaf scrolls and a royal umbrella on either side. On the reverse an elephant (symbol of the kingdom of Siam) is shown encircled by a chakra (disc, wheel or sun symbol). This ancient Indian emblem of a warrior or world-ruler is one of the attributes of the Hindu god Vishnu, and was adopted as the dynastic mark of the Bangkok dynasty. The eight stars around the chakra indicate the denomination of one baht.

    R. S. Le May, The coinage of Siam (Bangkok, Siam Society, 1932)

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