Rupees at the time of British Empire
The first set of British India notes were the ‘Victoria Portrait’ Series issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000. These were uni-face, carried two language panels and were printed on hand-moulded paper manufactured at the Laver stock 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.
British India Notes facilitated inter-spatial transfer of funds. As a security precaution, notes were cut in half. One set was sent by post. On confirmation of receipt, the other half was dispatched by post.
Small Denomination Notes
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 Anaas 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.
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 Five – First Note issued by Reserve Bank of India
This was followed by Rs 10 in February, Rs 100 in March and Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 in June 1938.
In August 1940, the one-rupee note was reintroduced, once again as a war time measure, as a Government note with the status of a rupee coin.
As an added security feature, the security thread was introduced for the first time in India
The George VI series continued till 1947 and thereafter as a frozen series till 1950 when post independence notes were issued.