What does BA-HVS mean?
On one of Christian's 4th.
Lean Coins from Trankebar, the letters on the reverse says BA-HVS. John C.
F. Gray writes in his Trankebar catalog that BA-HVS refers to Bohus County in Norway, now in Sweden. This explanation I do not think is right. I think
BA-HVS must have a religious Christian meaning. The reason is that BA-HVS
appears in a series of four coins, the three others having understandable
The four coins, all of which have crowned C4 on adverse are: KM 28 IHS, KM 29 GUD, KM
30 IEHOVAH and KM 31 BA HVS.
KM 28. IHS.
IHS: About HIS Vilhelm
Bergsøe gives in his catalog "Trankebarmønter" from 1895 these possible explanations
of the reverse inscription IHS. IHS denotes the first three letters in the
name of Jesus (on Greek) or it is interpreted as:
JESUS HORTATOR SANCTORUM (Jesus the Saints reminds) or: JESUS HOMINUM
SALVATOR (Jesus Savior of Jesus) or: IN HOW SALUS (in this salvation).
The adverse of IHS is a nice detailed crown over the C4. On some HIS coins
the adverse from KM 29 GUD is used.
KM 29. GUD.
GUD: Here the reverse inscription GUD (Danish for god) is directly
understandable. The front has a vaulted crown above the C4. GUD is
overstrike on IHS.
KM 30 IEHOVAH .
KM 30 IEHOVAH: Here is the reverse inscription is IEHOVAH, which comes from
JAHVE = GOD. IEHOVAH and BA HVS
had the same obverse.
IEHOVAH is overstrike on GUD. BAHVS is overstrike on IEHOVAH. The
coins must be simultaneous and the order must be: GOD,
IHS, IEHOVAH and BAHVS. These four coins belong together. The first
three have religious inscriptions. Therefore it
is likely that BA HVS also has a religious meaning.
These coins with religious inscriptions have been used
as model for fake coins. In the years from 1922 to 1937, The
Royal Coin and Medal Collection in Copenhagen is in contact an Indian priest,
S. C. Abel. Abel offers Tranquebar coins for sale, and the museum in Copenhagen
buys many coins. Many of these coins are unique and they are now recognized as fake.
The Royal Coin and Medals Collection has four unique fake IHS coins, and there
are two in Stockholm. The Christian message IHS is
engraved on other more common lead coins. Abel has also used the
BAHVS coin as inspiration for unique fake coins. Here Abel has not read
BAHVS as a religious inscription. He has made a little change and it has
become three coins: UBJ 43 BAR-KVS, UBJ 42 BAR-KVSU and UBJ 41
BAR-KASU. He probably meant that it should stand for Tranke-BAR
KASU (Kas is an Indian coin).
It's the irony of fate. First Danish colonial
officials put coins of Christian propaganda, IHS, in circulation among
unsuspecting Hindus. Later, a Christian Indian priest sells fake
coins with the same message back to the old colonial land. It is difficult to
determine when these coins with religious inscriptions were
struck. Their obverse with crowned C4, their weights and overstrike
indicate the period 1639-1644.
At that time two infamous Danish priests made havoc in
Trankebar. It was Niels Andersen and Christian Pedersen Storm. They
were drunkards, drank with the soldiers, and contributed to demoralizing of
life in Trankebar. Drunken they ravages through the city. They mistreated
people with sticks and mutilated some. They ended up mistreating a women to death.
In 1644 the two priests were imprisoned. Storm
tried to bribe soldiers to relieve him and escape with him. He was sentenced to death and on the same day, he was sewn in a
sack and lowered into the sea a mile from land.
Niels Andersen was also sentenced to death, but the
verdict was changed and he was sentenced banishment. He was
placed ashore on a deserted coast on Ceylon and was never seen again.
Why these coins of religious inscriptions have been strike in Trankebar, while
the two priests' behavior gave the Danish a bad reputation throughout India, is