Earlier during pre-independence period, Travancore was one of the most prosperous and powerful kingdoms of medieval India. At that time, Marthanda Varma and Balarama Varma were ruling in Travancore. These Travancore kings minted many beautiful coins in different metals such as silver and copper. They were also ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu or Padmanabha and used to call themselves `Padmanabha dasa` i,e, servant of Padmanabha.
The Travancore kingdom was ruled by the name of God Padmanabha. The earliest coins of Travancore were hand made and later coins were mostly machine made. The machine made coins had smooth edges and was very nice to look. Since they were devotees of Lord Vishnu, the majority of the Travancore coins featured objects and symbols associated with Lord Vishnu. One of such unique copper coin of Travancore had Lord Padmanabha in sleep (Anantasayana). The numismatists say that this was one of the rarest representations of the sleeping Vishnu on a coin. These Travancore coins also feature the `conch` and the wheel. These are the two main objects carried by Lord Vishnu. Most of the Travancore coins have the conch on them. Sometimes, the conch is seen on both sides of the Travancore coin. The conch on the coin was enclosed within a circle or a flower-wreath or a star.
Some of the late Travancore coins represent the bust of the ruler on the facade. The British influence can also be noticed in the Travancore coins. On these coins, the kings were shown wearing European dress such as shirt, coat, tie and a feathered cap. One of the Travancore silver coins featured the goddesses Parvati on the front side and a trident on the reverse. The inscriptions on the Travancore coins were in Malayalam and English.