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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Half toman and two kran pieces


only applies to Teheran and the principal cities; in the villages, and in out-of-the-way towns, notes are out of the question, and even silver coins are very scarce. A two-kran piece of the newer type is seldom found, and only one-kran pieces, little irregular lumps of silver, are occasionally to be seen. Copper is really the currency and is a mere subsidiary or token coinage with a value fluctuating according to local dearth or other causes at almost every place one goes to.

The precarious system of farming, accompanied by the corruption of officials, has given an opportunity for most frequent and flagrant abuses in the excessive over-issue of copper coin, so that in many cities copper issued at the nominal value of 20 shais per kran was current at 30, 40, 50, and even, in Eastern Persia, at 80 shais per kran. I myself, on travelling through Persia, never knew exactly what a kran was worth, as in almost every province I received a different exchange of shais for my krans. In Birjand and Sistan, particularly, the exchange differed very considerably.

This state of maladministration affects the poorer classes, for the copper currency forms their entire fortune. On coming to the throne the present Shah, with praiseworthy thoughtfulness, endeavoured to put a stop to this cause of misery in his people, and ordered the Government to withdraw some 720,000 tomans' worth of copper coins at 25 to 30 shais per kran. This

had a good effect, and although much of the depreciated coin is still in circulation, particularly in out-of-the-way places, its circulation in the larger towns has been considerably diminished.

Lately the Government has adopted the measure of supplying the public with nickel coins, one-shai and two-shai pieces, which, although looked at askance at first, are now found very handy by the natives and circulate freely, principally in Resht, Kasvin, Teheran and Isfahan. In other cities I did not see any, nor would the natives accept mine in payment, and in villages no one would have anything to do with them as they were absolutely unknown. But wherever it has been possible to commence the circulation of these nickel coins--which were struck at the Brussels Mint and which are quite pretty--they have been accepted with great pleasure.

The old gold coins in circulation in Persia--very few and far apart--were the toman, half-toman, and two-kran piece. The gold had a legal fineness of 990. The legal weight in grains troy was: toman, 53.28; half-toman, 26.64; two-kran piece, 10.656. Weight in pure gold; toman, 51.7572; half-toman, 26.3736; two-kran piece, 10.54944.

The new coins are the two-tomans, one-toman (differentiated in 1879 and subsequent to 1879), half-toman and two-kran pieces, the gold having a legal fineness of 900. Legal weight:--

| | One toman. | | | Two | | Subsequent| Half | Two kran | tomans.| 1879. | to 1879. | toman. | piece. --------------------+---------+--------+-----------+--------+--------- Grains troy | 100.64 | 50.32 | 44.40 | 22.20 | 8.88 Weight in pure gold | 90.576 | 45.288 | 39.96 | 19.98 | 7.992

The new silver coinage consists of 2-kran pieces (five of which make a toman), one-kran, half-kran, and quarter-kran, all keeping to the legal fineness of 900 as in the older coins struck from 1857 to 1878:--

| Two | One | Half | Quarter | krans. | kran. | kran. | kran. ---------------------------+---------+--------+--------+-------- Legal weight (grains troy) | 142.08 | 71.04 | 30.52 | 15.26 Weight in grains silver | 127.872 | 63.936 | 27.468 | 13.734

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