None of our modern corporations could ever hope to have the power of the British East India Company. The EIC had the full powers of a sovereign nation. It could mint money, enact and enforce laws, raise armies, and wage war—all without the consent of the Crown. Chartered in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I, the company eventually grew so successfully that its business accounted for half of the world’s trade—a staggering percentage then and now. In 1757, the British government ceded administrative responsibility for the Crown Jewel of its Empire, India, to the EIC. A company, rather than a government, was effectively the ruler of one of the largest territories on earth for a full century.
Minted by the EIC in India for the Bengal Presidency, this 19th century copper pice coin features Persian script.