A word probably corrupted from Panam by Europeans. A name given to both gold and silver coins which are common in the southern part of India.
The gold Fanam is a minute coin circulating in Travancore and on the Malabar Coast.
The silver Fanam probably originated at the Bombay mint in the midle of the seventeenth century. The earliest types have on the obverse two C's interlinked, and on the reverse the figure of a deity, Vishnu or Swami.
In Travancore the silver Fanam has a value of four Chakrams; in Madras it is equal to four Falus.
A silver piece of five Fanams was issued by Denmark, in 1683, for its possessions in Tranquebar. France struck Fanams from the time of Louis XIV to the year 1837 for its possessions in Pondichery, Chandernagor, etc. There are many varieties, for detailed account of which see Zay, Histoire monetaire des colonies franchises. 1892 (p. 295 et seq.).
The Fanam struck by the French at Pondichery for use at Mahe on the Malabar Coast is the fifth part of a Rupee and is divided into fifteen Biches, i.e., Pice. Conf. also Elliot (part IV).
In the coinage of early India the Fanam was a gold coin weighing somewhat over five grains and equal to the tenth part of the Pagoda. See Pana and Panam.
Source: Frey's Dictionary (American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 50, 1916)