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Special displays to mark International Museum Day

J. Malarvizhi

Members of the Madras Coin Society interact with children



HISTORY LESSONS: A pair of curious eyes at the exhibition organised in connection with International Museum Day in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

CHENNAI: The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India lay beside almost every kind of currency the country has seen at the Exchange Building of Fort St. George on Thursday.

Better known as the Fort Museum, the former hub of all trading activity in Madras Presidency has special displays to mark International Museum Day in the Chennai Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Star of India, conferred only on Princes and Chiefs loyal to the British Empire, lorded it over a display of medallions from the Museum's reserve collections.

Various medals recognising faithful service, gallantry and scholarship and commemorative medals issued for special events of the British Empire are on display till Thursday.

The Imperial Assemblage Medal, cast in 1877 in gold for the imperial court of princes and chiefs of India held by Queen Victoria, is among the rare medals in the collection.

The Empire's hierarchies of recognition, strictly adhered to while honouring the faithful, are explained in a brochure.

The Madras Coin Society has collaborated with the Museum in setting up displays of coins and notes. This year's theme for the International Museum Day being `Museums and the Young', members of the Society interacted with groups of children explaining the historic details that can be seen in a coin and issues related to the collection of coins or numismatics.

"Any numismatic collection should have a theme, only then would it convey a message," said S.B. Raja Seetharaman of the Society.

The collection on view is accordingly categorised by historical period. Coinage of the Pallava and Chola dynasties find place in a coin chronicle of pre-colonial India. Fanams and pagodas or coinage used before it was standardised by imperial Britain are on view along with coins of other colonial powers including the Dutch and the French.

The one-twelfth anna and pice and other vanished denominations of British India are displayed next to currency notes of independent India.

Notes from the 1940s bear stories of impending transitions. Ten and one rupee notes from the Government of India bear overprints of the governments of Burma and Pakistan.

R.Vanaja, retired keeper of the National Museum, Delhi, and P. Shanmugam, retired head of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras, released a brochure about the Fort Museum and inaugurated the displays.

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