These Currency Circles increased in number as the Government progressively took over the work. The agency agreements with the Presidency Banks were finally terminated in 1867. The Management of Paper Currency was subsequently, in turn, entrusted to the Mint Masters, the Accountant Generals and the Controller of Currency.
Victoria Portrait Series
The first set of British India notes were the 'Victoria Portrait' Series issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000. These were unifaced, carried two language panels and were printed on hand-moulded paper manufactured at the Laverstock Paper Mills (Portals). The security features incorporated the watermark (GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, RUPEES, two signatures and wavy lines), the printed signature and the registration of the notes.
The Victoria Portrait series was withdrawn in the wake of a spate of forgeries and replaced by the unifaced 'Underprint Series' which were introduced in 1867. In deference to public demand, notes in the denomination of Rupees Five were introduced. Initially, notes were legally encashable only in the Currency Circle in which they were issued; however, between 1903 an 1911, notes of denomination 5, 10, 50 and 100 were 'universalised', i.e. were legally encashable outside the Currency Circle of Issue.
The Underprint Series notes were printed on moulded paper and carried 4 language panels (Green Series). The languages differed as per the currency circle of Issue. Language panels were increased to 8 in the Red Series. The improved security features included a wavy line watermark, the manufacturer's code in the watermark (the source of much confusion in dating), guilloche patterns and a coloured underprint.
This series remained largely unchanged till the introduction of the 'King's Portrait' series which commenced in 1923.
Green Underprint - Rupees Five Hundred
Green Underprint - Rupees Five
Red Underprint - Rupees Fifty
The introduction of small denomination notes in India was essentially in the realm of the exigent. Compulsions of the first World War led to the introduction of paper currency of small denominations. Rupee One was introduced on 30th November, 1917 followed by the exotic Rupees Two and Annas Eight. The issuance of these notes was discontinued on 1st January, 1926 on cost benefit considerations. These notes first carried the portrait of King George V and were the precursors of the 'King's Portrait' Series which were to follow.
Rupee One - Obverse
Rupee One -Reverse
Rupees Two and Annas Eight - Obverse
Regular issues of this Series carrying the portrait of George V were introduced in May, 1923 on a Ten Rupee Note. The King's Portrait Motif continued as an integral feature of all Paper Money issues of British India. Government of India continued to issue currency notes till 1935 when the Reserve Bank of India took over the functions of the Controller of Currency. These notes were issued in denominations of Rs 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 10,000.
Rupees One Thousand
Rupees Ten Thousand
British India: Reserve Bank Issues
The first Central Office of the Reserve Bank of India
Section 22 of the RBI Act, 1934, empowered it to continue issuing Government of India notes till its own notes were ready for issue. The Central Board of the Bank recommended that the Bank notes retain the general size, appearance and design of the existing notes, albeit with modifications.
Notes with the portrait of Edward VIII were scheduled for release in the summer of '37. But Edward's heart had its reasons and his abdication, at levels mundane, delayed the Bank's issues to January 1938 when the first Five Rupee note was issued bearing the portrait of George VI.
Rupees Five - First Note issued by Reserve Bank of India
Rupees One Hundred
Rupees One Thousand
Rupees Ten Thousand
|Sir Osborne Smith||Sir James Taylor|
Rupee One Obverse
Rupee One Reverse
Sir C. D. Deshmukh
George VI Profile
George VI Frontal