India - 1701 Surat Rupee

Treasure of the Great Basses Reef, Lanka

A silver 1701 Surat rupee from the shipwreck discovered on 1961 March 22nd by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson at the Great Basses reef off the south east coast of Lanka near Kirinda. The science fiction grand master Sir Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey) who settles in Lanka in 1956 now resides there permanently.

DenominationOne Rupee
AlloySilver Ag
Diameter25.4 mm
Thickness mm
Weight Legal11.444 gms
Weight11.97 gms
1701_surat_1r_obverse 1701_surat_1r_reverse
Bombay KM#300

Obverse : As found. Covered by coral.
Reverse : AU condition Islamic text with Year 1113 AH. A part of another coin appears to be stuck on right hand side, and probably why the coin is 4.6% heavier than legal weight.

Silver rupee minted in Surat (near Bombay) of the Mugal Empire, issued by Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir (ruled 1658-1707), with Islamic date 1113 AH (1701).

The coins appeared to have been packed in coir sacks with about 1000 coins each and perhaps packed several sacks to a wood chest. The coir bags held together long enough for the silver coins to have been concreted solidly together, so that when the sacks rotted away, the coins remained in twenty five pound lumps in the shape of the sack. The coins in the middle of the lumps were in perfect mint condition. The inner side of the outer coins were similarly protected as was the reverse of the coin shown above.

The Smithsonian institute was donated a 1,000 rupee lump soon after the discovery of the unrecorded wreck on the Great Basses Reef - off the south east coast of Lanka.

For more details on AH years, Reginal Year and Mint Marks, see details of coins from a Hoard obtained in 2012.

The coin pictured above has provenance from the collection of Mendel Peterson with his tag indicating Great Basses Reef - South Coast of Ceylon - 1703 - Large clump - Arthur Clarke

Text from
* The Treasure of the Great Reef By Arthur C. Clarke with Mike Wilson 1964

The uncleaned coin was scanned at 300dpi and the images are displayed at 250dpi. The AU/uncleaned condition coin was purchased in 2000 February on ebay.
Follow link to another coin from this treasure which I obtained in Lanka in 2000 August and have cleaned to highlight the complete details on both sides. See also few extra images showing slightly different parts of the full design, and entry in 1920 Brown, Lucknow Museum catalogue in which it is listed. About 10,000 were recovered from the shipwreck.
The sale of these coins in USA is described in article published on 1993 May 24 by Thomas Sebring in World Coin News(Vol 20. no 11).
I have known Arthur Clarke since the late '60 as patron of the Ceylon Astronomical Association and he inspired me into my career in astronomy. I have had the pleasure of meeting him whenever I visit back home to Lanka, and in 2000 August I did a video interview with him.