Casa da Moeda – Celebrating 175 years of Panjim’s Mint House
By Chryselle D’Silva Dias

Casa da Moeda, near Panjim’s Head Post Office was Goa’s Mint House from 1834 
-1841. Literally meaning ‘House of Coins’, the term ‘Casa da Moeda’ is common 
usage for ‘Mint’ in Portuguese. 
The building stands in the former Tobacco Square (Largo do Estanco), now also 
known as ‘Post Office Square’. According to ‘Walking in Panjim’, Tobacco Square 
was once the most important part of the city as trading in tobacco was planned 
in order to rescue the failing economy. The proximity of the river bank 
substantiates this as the river was the main means of trading and transport. 
All important buildings – the Treasury and Mint, the pillory, the chapel 
dedicated to S.Tomé, patron saint of builders, the market and the early houses 
of Panjim were built around this square. 
The earliest known owner of the building was one João Batista Goethalis 
followed by the Fazenda pública (Treasury). From 1834-1841, the Goa Mint 
functioned from here. The Mint was shifted to the Arsenal in 1841 after which 
there is a gap in our knowledge of the building’s history until 1863. 
Records indicate that in 1863, the building was sold to António Inácio da Silva 
of Santa Cruz. From 1865 to 1902, he rented it out to the English telegraph. 
In 1904, heirs of da Silva sold the building to Dr. Miguel Caetano Dias, whose 
descendants continue to live here. 
The building is unusual in the sense that it is possibly one of the few 
buildings in India that was occupied by both the Portuguese and the British 
Governments at various points.
The Mint in Panjim
According to Damião Peres: Catálogo das Moedas Indo-Portuguesas do Museu 
Numismático Português 1975, the then Governor General of Goa, Dom Manuel de 
Portugal e Castro was unhappy with the quality of coins being made at the Mint 
in Velha Goa and ordered the shifting of the Mint to the new capital, Nova Goa, 
so that the work could be carried out under his supervision. 
The transfer was based upon the report of a competent commission appointed by 
the Viceroy and dated July 2, 1832. In his book, ‘Historical Notes on Goa’, 
António de Menezes calls it “an important document for the history of 
Indo-Portuguese numismatics”.  
With the decree of 6 October, 1834, the governor ordered the striking of 
rupias, pardaus and half pardaus from twelve mãos of silver and currencies of 
10, 5 and 3 réis from two arrobas of copper, mãos and arrobas being units of 
weight prevalent at the time. These productions inaugurated the new Mint.  
In 1834, Portugal was witnessing yet another political upheaval with D.Maria II 
being restored to the throne of Portugal after being deposed by her uncle, 
Miguel, who was also technically her husband. This crisis was precipitated by 
the death of D.Maria’s grandfather, D. João VI of Portugal in 1826. He died 
without specifying which of his sons – Pedro IV or Miguel who was in exile for 
leading a revolution against his father - would be his legal heir. Pedro IV 
was, at the time, King of Brazil and while most people considered him to be D. 
João’s legal heir, nobody wanted him to reunite the thrones of Brazil and 
Portugal. On the other hand, Miguel was not a popular choice either, although 
his supporters were ready to bring him back to the throne.
In an attempt to appease everyone, Pedro IV abdicated the throne of Portugal in 
favour of his then seven year old daughter Maria da Glória with the condition 
that she marry her uncle Miguel who would be Regent until she was an adult.
Miguel pretended to accept but deposed Maria from the throne as soon he arrived 
in Portugal, proclaiming himself King. Maria was forced to flee and spent many 
years in various courts of Europe. 
In 1834, Pedro IV attacked Miguel and forced him to abdicate, after which 
D.Maria was restored to her throne.
Goa in the meantime, was not immune from these changes. News must have 
travelled rather slowly, but the effect of all these political imbroglios can 
be seen in the fact that only in 1835, a year after D.Maria was reinstated, a 
Provisional Government in Goa revoked  coins with the bust of D. Miguel and 
replaced them with coins featuring the bust of D. Maria II. 
The Coins
The Portuguese had minted coins in Goa ever since Afonso de Albuquerque laid 
claim to it in 1510. Over the next two centuries, Mints were set up in Goa,  
Cochin, Bassein, Daman, Chaul (60km south of Mumbai in Raigad district), and 
In Goa, Portuguese gold issues in Goa were named sao-tomés after St Thomas, the 
apostle of India. Silver coins bore different designations according to their 
value i.e. silver xerafim, pardau, the silver rupia, or the silver bastião. 
Other coins were copper tangas (sometimes silver) and the humbler bazaruco used 
by locals for bazaar purchases.  
The coins were round and had no edge-milling. Compared to the coins being 
minted elsewhere in the Portuguese or the British Empire or even in other parts 
of the Indian sub-continent, the coins minted in Goa displayed poor technical 
ability. Coins were disparate in weight and shape, and shabby in design.
In 1841, the Mint moved to the Arsenal in Panjim after which production seems 
to have been suspended for a while. In the meantime, the Daman Mint began to 
function again after having been closed for nearly a century. The new Nova Goa 
Mint functioned from 1845-1869 after which it was closed. 
In 1870, coins were requisitioned from the Bombay Mint. In 1878, all existing 
coinage became obsolete after they were withdrawn and instead, silver and 
copper coins from the Calcutta and Bombay Mints were introduced as part of an 
Anglo-Portuguese treaty.
The Personalities
Several eminent personalities have lived and worked in Casa da Moeda after it 
became a private residence in 1904. General Dr. Miguel Caetano Dias was the 
first and only Goan to be designated as 'General' by the Portuguese government. 
He held several portfolios in Portugal and Mozambique and Goa, among them 
Director of Health Services and later as Director of Escola Medica and Military 
Hospital in Panjim. He was held in such high esteem that in his lifetime, a 
memorial was erected to him in the Escola Medica (the former Goa Medical 
College). The bust now stands in a garden in front of the Casa da Moeda.
Dr. Victor Manuel Dias, eldest son of Dr. Miguel Caetano, was also a 
distinguished physician. 2009 marks his 60th death anniversary. He is 
remembered for heading the Saneamento de Velha Goa – an ambitious (and 
successful) plan in 1948-49 to eradicate Old Goa of its scourge of malaria and 
disease. He was also an inventor, had his own laboratory (Laboratório Sida) and 
rendered the first ever radio broadcast in Goa in 1946. For upwards of 15 
years, he was also the special surgeon in charge of the body of St. Francis 
Xavier and had the duty of inspecting annually the Saint’s incorruptible 
remains and reporting on them to the Government and the ecclesiastical 
authorities of Goa and Portugal.
His siblings include the eminent engineer Luis Bismarck Dias who is credited 
with designing the city of Vasco da Gama, the Praça do Comércio in Panjim and 
the Dona Paula Miradouro among others; Dr. António Dias, renowned surgeon who 
was instrumental in revitalising Hospicio Hospital in Margão; and Álvaro Dias, 
eminent judge.
The Casa da Moeda Festival
To commemorate 175 years of Casa da Moeda, the Dias family is organising a 
three day festival from 8-10 November. The festival will include talks on 
numismatics, architecture, local history and Indo-Portuguese furniture. Also on 
the cards is a Fado concert by Sonia Shirsat and a quiz on numismatics and 
heritage by the Sunday Evening Quiz Club (SEQC). 
As the events are being held within the residence, the seating capacity is 
limited to about 40 to 50.
There will also be an exhibition of paintings and photographs, both vintage and 
recent. For further details, including timings, please visit: 
Preserving our Heritage Homes
The world over, heritage homes are valued, treasured and supported by their 
governments. For example, in the United Kingdom, the National Trust 
( currently protects over 350 historic houses, 
gardens, industrial monuments and mills. These locations are beautifully 
preserved and open to the public. English Heritage 
( seeks to protect England’s historic 
environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. In India, 
although the remit of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) does include 
‘maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of 
national importance’, there seems to be a lack of a comprehensive national 
policy  towards oversees the preservation of heritage and historic homes. We 
hope that our government will draw inspiration from other countries that 
succeed in not only preserving local heritage but also sustain the local 
economy by
 cultivating a new genre of heritage tourism and generating much needed revenue 
in return. It is a win-win situation for everybody.   
Sunday, 8 November
Morning (8 am) Heritage walk conducted by GHAG
(Limited places; please email to register)
 Evening (5.30 pm onwards)
* Talk by Architect Gerard da Cunh
* Fado concert by Sonia Shirsat
Monday, 9 November
 Evening (5.30 pm onwards)
* Talk by Maria de Lourdes Brava da Costa Rodrigues
* Talk by Numismatist Fenelon Rebello
Tuesday, 10 November
 Morning ( 7 am) :  Commemorative Mass at S. Tomé chapel on the occasion of the 
60th birth anniversary of Dr. Victor Manuel Dias
Evening (5.30 pm onwards)
* Talk by Percival Noronha
* Talk by Architect Rajiv D’Silva
* Panjim Open Philharmonic
* Quiz by the Sunday Evening Quiz 

Published in the Herald, Goa - November 1, 2009

Chryselle D'Silva Dias
Freelance Writer
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