The Coinage of the Vikram Samvat Dating System

by Jay Turner

VS2045-1988 1/10A Snow Leopard, Nepal, PCGS MS69. Click image to enlarge.

VS1985 (1928) 2 Mohar KM-695, Nepal, PCGS MS66. Click image to enlarge.

The Vikram Samvat calendar is used mostly in Nepal and some Indian states. The Vikram Samvat system is a lunar system following the cycles of the Moon, breaking down a year into 12 months with each month having 30 lunar days with length ranging from 20 to 27 hours and adding an additional month every three years to adjust for mismatch and to keep their crop cycles and festivals on consistent time. The historical origins of the Vikram Samvat dating system can be traced to its namesake King Vikramaditya in 57 BCE, however no source before 842 BCE is known to use the dating as Vikram.

VS1951 (1894) Rupee Y-36a, India-Baroda, PCGS AU58. Click image to enlarge.

VS1992-1935 1/4An, India-Indore, PCGS MS65RB. Click image to enlarge.

VS1948 (1891) Rupee KM-44, India-Indore, PCGS MS63. Click image to enlarge.

VS1985 (1928) Rupee Y-22.1 Thin Characters, India-Mewar, PCGS MS65. Click image to enlarge.

The dating for the Vikram Samvat system starts with year 0 (zero) in 57 BCE, making the conversion to the Common Era dating as simple as subtracting 57 Vikram Samvat date to get the corresponding Common Era date. For coinage, the Vikram system is used mostly on the coinage of Nepal and several independent states and kingdoms in India, such as Assam, Baroda, Indore, Jhalawar, Mewar, Patiala, Sikh Empire, and others. The traditional abbreviation for the use of the Vikram Samvat dating is VS but also BS is used.

In the past few years, PCGS has been updating its system to include both the Vikram Samvat (VS) dating and the Common Era dating on the label.