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11 Chuckram From Travancore


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11 Silver Chuckram, India Princely States, Travancore 1860-1880 Rama Varman IV. Each chuckram is approx. 6mm & 0.40 grams

 

"THE LAND OF CHARITY"

a descriptive account of TRAVANCORE AND ITS PEOPLE, WITH ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO MISSIONARY LABOUR BY THE Rev. SAMUEL MATEER, F.L.S,OF THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY. 1871.

 

The only other coin largely circulated is the "chuckram", a tiny silver coin, about the size of half a small pea, and weighing under six grains. The impression on one side appears to be merely a fancy design. On the other side are ten dots and two curved lines, interpreted by the natives as representing the legs and toes of the national deity Patmanabhan

 

Chuckrams being so small and globose are exceedingly troublesome to count or handle. They slip out of the fingers and run over the floor, and are only discovered again with difficulty. £100 sterling amounts to 28,500 chuckrams, weighing twenty-four pounds avoirdupois ; and hours would be wasted in reckoning this number of small coins. They are therefore measured, or counted, by means of a " chuckram board," a small square wooden plate, with holes, the exact size and depth of a chuckram, drilled in regular rows on its surface; a board contains fifty, a hundred, two hundred, or more of these holes, according to convenience. A small handful of coins is thrown on the board, and it is then shaken gently from side to side, so as to cause a single chuckram to fall into each cavity, and the surplus, if any, is swept off with the hand. A glance at the board, when filled, shows that it contains the exact number of coins for which it is intended. The rapid manipulation of this simple but ingenious implement requires some practice, but the Government clerks and native merchants are surprisingly expert and exact in its performance.

 

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The Mint Department was established about eighty years ago. Its operations are now conducted within the fort at Trevandrum. Chuckrams are coined from dollars and other silver coins bought up for the purpose. These are melted in clay crucibles, which are each used but once, then ground to powder, and the atoms of precious metal which adhere to the clay carefully remelted and collected. The molten silver is suddenly poured into cold water, where it falls into grains and dust. These are then weighed out in delicate scales to the exact weight of a chuckram, and the separate quantities thrown into small cavities in a large earthen plate, which contains several thousand holes of the proper size, closely arranged on its surface. The plate, with its whole contents, being put into the furnace, is exposed to a high temperature for three hours and a half, so that the grains of metal are fused and formed into separate globules, of which there may be 3,000 in a single earthen plate. When cooled these are taken out and punched by hand into chuckrams, one of the dies being firmly embedded in a stone underneath the coin, the other held in the workman's hand.

 

chackram = sanskrit wheel, circle

Chuckram = six sevenths of a penny

 

A chuckram buys a pound of rice

A chuckrams worth of arrack (a spirit like gin but is really a rum) is enough for a man to get drunk.

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