Shroffs, Money Changers - 1863
Studio portrait of shroffs or money changers at Delhi in India, taken by Shepherd and Robertson in c.1863. This image of two men, seated with account books and piles of coins, is reproduced as illustration number 185 in Volume IV of John Forbes Watson's 'The People of India' (1869). The accompanying text states, "Shroffs are not always Bunneas (small traders), although the person illustrated may have been one. They are not unfrequently Brahmins, who have adopted a secular calling, and deal in money - Khutris, and other castes, Vaisya and Sudra. Their trade is the exchange of money, the giving change for rupees in pyce or copper coin, and for pyce in cowries. In the higher branches of his calling, the Shroff discounts hoodees, or bills of exchange, bonds, and promissory notes. He deals also in bullion, in small or large quantities, buys and sells ornaments, old and new pearls, and precious stones of all kinds. Finally, he lends money, generally on pledges of gold and silver ornaments, in small proportion to their value, but at moderate interest."
Text and image credit:
Copyright © The British Library Board