While coins have existed for over two thousand years in India, none have matched the sheer beauty and complexity of design as the coins issued by the kings of Gupta Dynasty from the 4th through 6th century AD.

 

Starting from the first of the Gupta kings, Chandragupta I in 319 AD, to the last King Vishnugupta in 543 AD, their coins are a historical record detailing the evolution of the Gupta style and its impact on religious art from this golden age of India. The clues hidden in the coin designs, legends, dates and metrology all speak volumes and have here been deciphered to help reconstruct the history of the dynasty. In this book an attempt has been made to catalogue the entire coinage in gold, silver, lead and copper, listing all known coin types and varieties. The book also includes a detailed analysis of the designs, dates and metrology and an extensive discussion of the history of the Gupta Empire.

 

The last complete catalogue of the Gupta Dynasty coinage was published by Dr. A.S. Altekar in 1957, and since then no one has been successful in fully cataloging the entire series. This work, published here on the 60th anniversary of Dr. Altekar’s seminal work, is a continuation of that effort to fully document the coinage and to understand it's impact on the history of India. It includes the rarest of the coins, published here for the first time, from major Museum collections in India, and around the world as well as private collections, most of which are inaccessible to researchers.

 

The book is designed as a guide for collectors, scholars and history buffs alike. It will help researchers fully understand the complex history and inscriptions, as well as the vast and beautiful coinage of the Gupta Dynasty and will serve as a comprehensive reference on the Gupta Dynasty numismatics.

History is always written by the victors. The gap between what was fact versus reality during the Gupta era, is what this book is all about. In some cases, the historical facts written by the victors and the evidence from inscriptions and coins can lead to very different conclusions, and in many cases, create conflicting narratives. Solving the mystery of ancient India is like walking through a dark tunnel, with occasional glimpses of light, and fleeting clues that can help us reconstruct the true story. Coins issued by victors and victims alike, speak volumes, and this book is about piecing together evidence from the coins issued by the kings ruling over the Gupta Empire.

 

This book is a work of love and passion. Like all passionate journeys, first one must fall in love. I fell in love with these beautiful coins at a very young age. Their intricate designs, the action scenes, the different kings all fascinated me as a young child, and I marvelled at the coin collections showcased in the Coin Gallery at the National Museum in Delhi. My hope is that the beautiful designs of the coins and the decades of research summarised and presented in this book, will continue to shine a bright light on the mystery that is India, to help inspire and fuel the imaginations of the children of India and future generations who can continue to dream of exploring its rich history.

 

---- Sanjeev Kumar, 2016

Joe Cribb

Retired Keeper of Coins and Medals, British Museum 

Secretary General, Oriental Numismatic Society.

"...Like the work of Allan and Altekar, this volume, this giant step, will remain an authoritative tool for documenting one of the most important periods in the history of India for decades."

Dr. B.R. Mani

Director General of the National Museum, Delhi.

Prior Additional Director General of Archaeological Survey of India.

 

“...the present catalogue, which is most comprehensive as it incorporates each known coin type of the Imperial Guptas and later Guptas besides other contemporary dynasties.”

  

Excerpts from Book Review JONS 230

Robert Bracey

Editor, Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society,

British Museum.

"Sanjeev Kumar’s Treasures of the Gupta Empire (TGE) is the first attempt at a comprehensive type catalogue of Gupta coins for fifty years. Implicitly, it is a replacement for Allan and Altekar both in content (with a lot of new material in the last half century) and in terms of organization (also supported by a great deal of new scholarship). There is no doubt about the size of the corpus which Kumar has assembled. Though only a part of the corpus is on display in TGE there are still far more images, of generally higher quality, than previous publications. The more significant question is whether this corpus has allowed Kumar to resolve those problems of classification and attribution, and how much this impacts on the reconstruction of Gupta history more broadly... 

 

...certainly lives up to the implicit promise of the book, not only does it provide new data about the coins themselves but it offers clear historical implications from that data...

 

So how well does Treasures of the Gupta Empire succeed in its objectives? As a comprehensive reference on the gold coinage of the Gupta’s it is no doubt a huge contribution. The enlarged images, relative ease of use, and comprehensive nature, will likely ensure the volume supplants any of its predecessors as the catalogue of choice... overall this is a volume that I would recommend as a standard reference to anyone with an interest in Gupta coinage. 

After reading the introductory sections it will be immediately clear that this is not a dry academic account. Kumar uses a conversational tone, and his enthusiasm and interest is immediately apparent. There are advantages to this. The book does not assume prior knowledge, and I found in general it is easier to use and more accessible than Allen, Altekar, or Raven..." 

Prestigious IAPN Book Prize awarded

The International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) has announced winners of their book prize for 2018.

 

Peter Preston-Morley provided this announcement. Congratulations to the winners and all entrants alike - publishing a numismatic book is a singular achievement requiring months or years of effort.

The Prize is awarded annually to the book voted by members of the IAPN as the most deserving, not necessarily from a commercial standpoint. Voting takes place at the IAPN’s General Assembly, which this year took place in Prague in early May. The Prize was first awarded in 1982, when it was won by the late Dr Martin Price. Since then other winners have included Philip Grierson, Mark Blackburn, Robert van Arsdell, Robert Friedberg, Sabine Bourgey, David Vagi, Harrington Manville, Christian Dekesel, Sylvia Hurter, Italo Vecchi and Hugo Vanhoudt.

There was an unprecedented total of 22 volumes up for consideration for this year's Prize, the 37th to have been contested. This is not just a testament to the importance of numismatic publishing, especially in the niche areas of numismatics, but demonstrates that 2017 will go down as a stellar year for serious numismatic publications of all kinds. The 22 volumes were published on every continent except Africa and Australasia.

The winner was a British scholar, Paul Stevens, for his The Coins of the English East India Company. Presidency Series. A Catalogue and Pricelist, published by Spink. Placed second was Sanjeev Kumar's Treasures of the Gupta Empire, and third in the overall rankings came Adolfo Modesti and Mario Traina’s volume, Le Medaglie e le Monete che hanno fatto l’Italia (1846-1871).

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