The French Company of the East Indies was set up in 1664 with a fifty-year monopoly of trade in the Indian Ocean. The French established their first (and principal) settlement at Pondichery on the Coromandel coast of southern India in 1674.Southern India in this period was fragmented into a number of small states. Minting coinage was not a state privilege and any merchant could obtain the right to coin money of the regulated standard. From about 1705 the French began minting their own version of the local gold coinage, the pagoda. This imitated the local tradition of depicting the schematized image of an Indian goddess standing between two flowers on the reverse. The coins carry no legend or date, but are identifiable as French by the obverse design of a small crescent and dot monogram encircled by a grained field.