Silver Mint - A Piece of Silver from Our Golden Past
Money is something which is very close to our heart. Yet, very few realise, that there is a story behind every coin!
Out of the Indian Government’s four primary mints, one is located in Alipore, in Kolkata, and is a grand structure par excellence. However, prior to the inauguration of this building, the Indian Government had carried out its operations through three different buildings, at three different phases of time. The most important of these, was the third mint, situated in Strand Road.
The foundation of the third mint was laid in March 1824, and it was named as the ‘Old Silver Mint,’ which began its production from 1829. The name was rightly coined, due to the production of 3 lakh to 6 lakh silver coins every day. With the growing need for lesser expensive currency, copper coins were introduced and in 1860, a new ‘Copper Mint’ was constructed to the north of the Silver Mint.
Constructed on a piece of waterlogged marshy land owned by the East India Company, on the banks of the Hooghly and facing the river, the building was conveniently located to allow easy transportation of raw materials and goods. The building, that now lies neglected and occupied by CRPF, used to be an impressive structure of those times. The front of the building was designed to resemble the Parthenon or the Temple of Athena, in Athens, Greece. With huge white Grecian Doric pillars lining the outskirts of the structure, the grand architecture’s operative blocks were hidden behind from the general view.
In 1952, with the formation of the new and present day mint in Alipore, the decline of the overpowering aura of the Silver Mint was silently announced. The once majestic architecture, now, lay behind in neglect. Eventually, the Government of West Bengal declared the Old Silver Mint as a heritage building in immediate requirement for restoration.
Did You Know?
Apart from copper, bronze and gold coins of those times, the Silver Mint was also entrusted with the task of producing medals and decorations for the British Army.