An Indian gold coin which is nearly 1,900 years old and shows one of the earliest depictions of Buddha is to be sold at auction where it is expected to fetch up to $27,000.

The coin, about the size of a finger nail, shows Buddha on one side and the Indian ruler Kanishka I on the other and dates from Kanisha's rule in the first quarter of the second century.

It is one of only four such coins, and the first to go under the hammer since 1991.

"Kanishka ... ruled over a multi-ethnic society in northern India and central Asia and embraced Buddhism," said Tom Eden of specialist coin auctioneers Morton & Eden Ltd, who will conduct the sale on November 23..

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