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1850-1948 Ancient Silver Forbidden Coin of Tibet w/ Display Box - 437-588

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437-588 - 1850-1948 Ancient Silver Forbidden Coin of Tibet w/ Display Box
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1850-1948 Ancient Silver Forbidden Coin of Tibet w/ Display Box

Surrounded by the white-capped Himalayas and the Kunlun Shan, the land of Tibet is topographically isolated from the rest of the world. For centuries outsiders were few and far between. Buddhist monks, led by a succession of Dalai Lamas, devoted themselves to matters of the spirit, literally looking down on the world from the mountaintop. This curious blend of religious sophistication and geographical remoteness gave rise to a mythology. Tibet was a forbidden realm, an exotic kingdom in the clouds, the presumed location of the fabled Shangri-La - a land of dreams.

Tibetan coinage is quite scarce. The first local mint did not open until 1791, only to close two years later. Tibet did not issue its own coins again until 1836, and continued to do so in small mintages until 1950. This undated silver coin is a Ga-den tangka, widely considered the most beautiful of all Tibetan money. Originally struck circa 1850, these were issued with slight variations until 1948, a run encompassing the reign of the 12th through the 14th Dalai Lamas. The basic design was inspired by Nepalese coins that were themselves influenced by Indian silver rupees. The tangka's obverse features a stylized lotus flower (purity) within a circle surrounded by the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism: vase (abundance), golden fish (salvation), amphora of ambrosia (love), conch shell (glory), infinite knot (rebirth), umbrella of sovereignty (protection), banner (victory), and wheel of law (the eight-fold path to enlightenment).

On the reverse, an eight-pedaled wheel/flower within a star is ringed by a Tibetan legend that fits neatly in eight oval frames: dga'-ldan pho-bran-phyod-las-rnam-rgyal - "The Palace of Ga-den is victorious in all directions," Ga-den being the former historical residence of the Dalai Lamas. The eight divisions of the coin symbolize the eight compass directions and the eight pathways to enlightenment and good fortune. The lotus flower symbol is also rich with meaning. Rising beautifully out of muddy water, the lotus represents purity in an impure world. The design incorporates a pathway down the center of the flower to the realm of spiritual enlightenment.


  • Coin Grade: Circulated
  • Coin Type: Ga-den Tangka
  • Diameter: 26-28mm
  • Mintage Year: 1850-1948
  • Obverse: Stylized lotus flower (symbol of purity) within a circle, surrounded by the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism
  • Reverse: An eight-pedaled wheel/flower within a star is ringed by a Tibetan legend that fits neatly in eight oval frames
  • Measurements: 4"W x 4"L x 1"H.

    Distributed by American Collectors Mint, LLC.


    Coin Glossary:

    Die: An engraved piece of metal used to stamp a design on a coin.

    Die crack: A small, raised imperfection on a coin resulting from a crack in the stamping die.

    Early release: The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) uses this designation for U.S. Bullion Coins during the first month of release from the U.S. Mint. To qualify for Early Release designation, NGC must receive the coins within 30 days of their release by the US Mint or properly documented as being received by an NGC approved entity within the same 30-day release period.

    Encapsulated coin: A coin graded and authenticated by a professional coin service, then sealed in plastic.

    Field: The typically flat area surrounding the relief and not used for legend or inscription.

    Legal tender: Official money issued by the government.

    Legend: The coin's primary lettering.

    Lettered edge: An inscription added to the edge of a coin.

    Luster: The quality of the surface brilliance on a Mint State or Uncirculated coin.

    Mercury dime: Issued from 1916 to 1945, this U.S. dime featured a representation of Liberty in a winged hat that was commonly mistaken for the ancient god, Mercury.

    Mint: A government controlled coin production facility.

    Mint mark: A small letter stamped on a coin that indicates its mint origin, ex. "D" for Denver.

    Mint Set: One coin from each of the available denominations in a particular year, produced by a single mint and made for circulation.

    Mint State (Uncirculated): A regular production coin never used in trade and existing in its original condition.

    Mintage: The number of coins produced.

    NGC: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

    Numismatics: The collection and study of monetary objects such as coins and paper bills.

    Obverse: Heads, or a coin's front side.

    Patina: Surface discoloration, typically green or brown, caused by oxidation over time.

    PCGS: Professional Coin Grading Service.

    Planchet: A blank metal piece used to produce a coin.

    Proof: Expertly polished planchets and dies produce these coins which feature an extremely high quality strike, resulting in unmatched detail and brilliant surface finish.

    Reeded edge: A coin edge finish featuring parallel vertical grooves all the way around.

    Relief: The raised portion of a stamped design that sits above the coin's field.

    Reverse: Tails, or coin's back side.

    Rim: The raised ring around the perimeter of a coin designed to reduce wear on the relief.

    Strike: The act of stamping a coin.

    Truncation: The bottom edge of a portrait or bust.

    Wheat penny: Lincoln cents issued from 1909 to 1958 bearing the wheat ear design on the reverse.

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