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Token: India Ram Darbar Temple Ramatanka (Fakes are possible)
Token: India Ram Darbar Temple Ramatanka (Fakes are possible)

We received an inquiry via e-mail about this unusual coin. Shailender sent us the photograph at the left, but no other information except that it is an ancient coin from India.

There is much interest in these coins and we have prepared this page with up-to-date information. This page covers:


Identification - These are not coins used for commerce, but tokens (tankas) related to Hindu temples, i.e., these are 'Temple Tokens,' with various Western spellings such as Ram Tanka, or Ramatanka, or Ram Tonka. They are made for religious pilgrims to carry for good luck, and to catch blessings from the gods. They come with designs of Hindu deities and with various religious ceremonies being carried out in honor of them.

There is a great page on flickr which show an abundance of temple tokens and gives types and approximate dates. It is very informative. Click to it at this link [PRESS HERE].

Religious significance - On this token are Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and the monkey god Hanuman around a platform (dubar). The design comes from the great Hindu epic 'Rama's Journey' (the Ramayana). The two figures on the other side of the token are Rama with his half-brother and inseparable companion, Lakshman.

In North India the legends on the token are commonly in Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, and commonly reads 'Rama Lachhamana Janaki' or 'Rama Lakshaman janaki' and 'Jai bala Hanamanaka' or 'Jai bolo Hanuman ki.' The legends may also be found in Punjabi, written in the Gurumukhi script; in Bengali, written in the Bangla script; in Kannada, written in the Kannada script, or in Sanskrit, written in the Devanagari script.

Approximate value - You can find modern reproductions of these coins at many places on the Internet (do a search on 'ram darbar' or 'ram tanka') and at a few coin dealers. For example, JoelsCoins.com sells modern reproductions for a few US dollars. In contrast, genuine ancient tankas can be worth hundreds of dollars. The modern tankas show false dates, so it is difficult to know precisely when a particular piece was minted. Modern tokens were manufactured during the 20th century and intentionally made to look old. Authenticating a particular specimen is an important, but difficult, topic when assigning value. More information about authentication and counterfeits is provided below.

The table below gives our approximation of value in US dollars for the various forms of this interesting piece. The values in our table are very approximate and represent retail prices a coin collector might pay for a problem-free coin without scratches, stains, cleanings, or other damage. Not shown in the table is any sentimental or religious value, which can be substantial. These are prices a buyer would expect to pay. If you have a tanka to sell to a dealer, he or she would pay wholesale price, which is significantly lower, usually about one-half of retail

Modern ReproductionGenuine Ancient Coin
Copper/Brass/Bronze$5$250
Silver$60$420
Gold$800$3000

CoinQuest thanks Sita Rama Swamy for use of their coin image (with the blue background). It is a nice coin with plenty of detail and eye appeal. Such coins are strongly desired by coin collectors. The coin with the red background is a gold Ram Tanka which has been harshly cleaned and polished. The harsh treatment makes the coin worthless to coin collectors, who do not buy cleaned coins. This coin is worth only its gold content.

The image with a green background is a genuine, old ramtanka minted in bronze and washed in silver. Its date is 1740. The image comes from an intriguing page on WorldofCoins.eu by mitresh which gives details of the symbolism of the central characters of Ramayana. CoinQuest thanks mitresh for use of his image. It is a nice example.

At SitaRamaSwamy.com you can see an image of a genuine Ram Tanka minted in brass or gold. Comparing the coin from requester Shailender (in our main image at the upper left) with the coin from Sita Rama Swamy, you can see several differences. This leads to the important topic of authenticating these tokens.

Authentication and counterfeits - If you are buying or selling one of these coins, it is up to you to determine if it is and old, genuine Temple Token or a modern reproduction. The values are very different.

Mr. Sumit Bhola is a professional numismatist in India. Sumit has volunteered to help people authenticate and evaluate their Indian coins. You can contact him on facebook and via e-mail.

Checking below, you can see a side-by-side comparison of an ancient and a modern ramatanka. Although there are obvious differences in design these differences are not completely trustworthy when choosing between ancient and modern. More important than the design is the overall quality of the piece. Modern tanks are usually mass-produced with little attention to detail, while truly valuable pieces show excellent definition and crisp, clear details.

Coin: 521 , Genre: Tokens
Requested by: Shailender, Fri, 22-May-2009 03:35:43 GMT
Answered by: Paul, Mon, 24-Mar-2014 18:48:03 GMT
Last review by CoinQuest: Sat, 30-Jul-2016 14:09:35 GMT
Requester description: see supplied picture
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Fri, 28-Jul-2017 10:49:55 GMT, unknown: 20281737