Coins form an important source of the history of ancient India; in fact, for certain periods, like those of the Indo Greeks, the Saka-Pahlavas, and the Western Kshatrapas, monetary issues are almost the only source of our information. In the Preface of his magnum opus, The Indo-Greeks, A.K. Narain very aptly remarks, For certain periods of Indian history the historian has to be a numismatist.
Several years back, the Numismatic Society of India launched an ambitious scheme of publishing corpuses of Indian coins, from the earliest times to the modern period, in ten volumes. Unfortunately only Volume IV, that is AS Altekar’s The Coinage of the Gupta Empire (Varanasi, 1957), saw the light of ay. A N Lahiri, in his individual capacity, published a Corpus of Indo Greek Coins (Calcutta, 1965). Tribal coins were dealt with, first by K K Dasgupta, in his A Tribal History of Ancient India: A Numismatic Approach (Calcutta, 1974), and, recently, by Devendra Handa, in Tribal Coins of Ancient India (New Delhi, 2007). R.C. Senior produced the masterly work, Indo-Scythian Coins and History (Lancaster, Pennylvania, London, 2001), in three volumes. However, a concise A-Z Encyclopaedia of the coins of ancient India remains a desideratum. Hence, the present Encyclopaedia of India Coins.
An introduction, in the beginning, deals with such aspects of ancient Indian numismatics, as the origin and antiquity of coinage in India, and the authority to issue coins. This is followed by the A-Z Encyclopaedia. An attempt has been made to illustrate the Encyclopaedia with photographs of some important monetary issues, in the body of the A-Z Encyclopaedia itself. An appendix, more about some issuers and devices and a select Bibliography are given at the end.