A Note on Modern Cast Counterfeit Malayamān Coins

Ian Todd, Canberra, September 2019


The ancient Malayamān hereditary chiefs ruled in eastern south India around the first to the third century CE, neighbours of the Cheras and Cholas. Their rare die struck copper coins, which come in a number of varieties, feature a horse (the royal emblem of the kingdom) on the obverse and a geographic scene on the reverse. The scene is believed to map the location of the Malayamān capital Tirucoilur on the banks of the River Ponnaiyar, with the mountain range leading up to Karnataka in the background (M. Mitchiner, The Coinage and History of Southern India: Part Two Tamilnadu Kerala, Hawkins Publications, London, 1998, p. 93).

Because of their rarity Malayamān coins are relatively expensive, which has brought the unfortunate consequence that they have drawn the attention of a modern-day counterfeiter who has produced an unknown quantity of good quality fakes. Seen individually these pieces would quite easily pass muster as genuine coins, as evidenced by the fact that they have been accepted for sale by at least three very reputable auction houses. However, when examples are viewed together their regrettable provenance becomes obvious. As the following examples show, the features of the coins including very noticeably the shape of their planchets are identical and there are no known pieces displaying any variations. This is simply an impossibility for die-struck coins of this vintage: the pieces are modern cast counterfeits. Caveat emptor!

Examples of the counterfeits

Obverse: Royal horse standing facing right, Nandīpada-Triratna symbol above.

Reverse: River with fish flowing from a mountain range.


1.    Private collection (18.6x16.6 mm, 2.66 g). Image x2 magnification.

MALAYAMAN: Anonymous, 1st century AD, AE unit (2.48g). VF-EF


2.    Auction house #1 (2019)


3.    Auction house #2 (2019). Reverse image upside down.

4.    Auction house #3 (2013)



5.    worldofcoins.eu (2013)