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Ram Darbar Temple Token Ramatanka (India)
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.
The coin is related to Hindu temples, i.e., it is a 'Temple Token', with various Western spellings such as Ram Tanka, or Ramatanka, or Ram Tonka. They were made as charms or tokens to carry around for good luck, and to catch blessings from the gods. They come with designs of Hindu gods and religious ceremonies being carried out in honor of them.
The Hindu gods on the 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 legend is commonly in Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, and commonly reads 'Rama Lachhamana Janaki' or 'Rama Lakshaman janaki' on one side, and 'Jai bala Hanamanaka' or 'Jai bolo Hanuman ki' on the other side. Hanuman ('Hanamanaka') and Lakshmana are both deities within a number of Hindu traditions.
The image with a green background appears to be a genuine, old ramtanka minted in bronze and washed in silver. It 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.
The legend is also sometimes 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.
Designs of additional ramtanka, not shown here, include the elephant god Ganesh sitting on a chair under an umbrella; Krishna and Radha standing on a flowerbed in front of a tree, one playing a flute; a four-armed Lakshmi sitting in lotus position on a lotus, with a wreath around; a standing four-armed Vishnu inside a decorated circle, halo around his head; the head of Kali sticking out her tongue; an eight-armed Kali standing on a fallen soldier; the monkey deity Bal Hanuman chasing the sun or carrying a mountain ... and many more.
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. Joels Coins has modern reproductions on sale for a few US dollars. The modern coins show false dates, so it is difficult to know precisely when a particular coin was minted. Most coins were manufactured during the 20th century and intentionally made to look old.
DO NOT CLEAN YOUR COIN. CLEANING RUINS VALUE.
At SitaRamaSwamy.com you can see an image of what appears to be a genuine Ram Tanka minted in brass or gold. Comparing the coin from Shailender (in our main image) with the coin from Sita Rama Swamy (with the blue background), you can see several differences. To the best of our knowledge, Sita Rama Swamy's coin is a genuine ancient Ram Tanka, and Shailender's coin is a modern reproduction.
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 will be very different.
The table below gives our approximation of value in US dollars for the various forms of this interesting coin. 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 coin to sell to a dealer, he or she would pay wholesale price, which is significantly lower.
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.
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