The museum traces the journey, history and transformation of Indian currency, from cowries and metal coins to banknotes.

People with a penchant for history and numismatics have a unique destination in Bengaluru, the capital of the state of Karnataka in southern India.

Rezwan Razack, Founder and Co-Managing Director of Prestige Group, is one of the world’s largest collectors of Indian banknotes and has set up a Money Museum, located on the second floor of Prestige Falcon Towers in Brunton Road, Bengaluru.

The museum traces the journey, history and transformation of Indian currency, from cowries and metal coins to banknotes.

The museum displays Rezwan’s extensive collection which spans more than five decades and houses one of the few collections of Indian banknotes, which dates back to the 19th century. The collection includes the first banknotes of the Madras presidency and private banks, including a few rare single-sided banknotes. The display also captures the fascinating story of the origin of banknotes and their use as legal tender.

The Indian Paper Money Act, 1861, led to the introduction of the first series of single-sided notes bearing the portrait of Queen Victoria. Besides these banknotes, there are those that bear the portrait of British monarchs such as George V and VI, which were issued as promissory notes in 1917 in an attempt to bypass the money shortage at the time.

However, the printing of uniface banknotes was stopped by the Indian government in 1930 after the Bank of England, the central bank of the United Kingdom (UK), terminated its contract to supply them.

Most of the banknotes on display have a history written on them and allow visitors to gain insight into the history of the various princely states of old, such as the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir banknotes which have been used to pay property taxes and other government taxes. to the public treasury.

There are Osmania notes from Hyderabad which were issued in 1919 in denominations of Re1 to Rs1,000. The museum houses denominations of Re1, Rs5, Rs100 and Rs1,000.

Saurashtra state banknotes, introduced during World War I due to the shortage of metallic money, were known as havala (insurance).

“This paper money was never used as fiat money and, therefore, was known as banknotes. Currency was always in the form of coins, whether it was gold, silver or copper. The public trusted him because of his intrinsic worth. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that paper money gained some acceptance. However, this change has taken a considerable amount of time, ”Rezwan told the Khaleej Times.

He also put into perspective the reasons why banknotes replaced metal coins at a much later stage. “Banknotes were accepted as legal tender after World War I due to a severe shortage of all kinds of metals. In the 10th century, Chinese merchants had invented a kind of paper money known as “Jiao Zi”. However, this led to disputes, and around the 11th century the Chinese government began to oversee the production of paper money. They raised capital by issuing paper tokens, which however caused economic disruption in China. The Bank of England issued paper money towards the end of the 17th century, ”Rezwan added.

PoW coupons

The museum’s valuable collections include Prisoner of War (POW) coupons used in POW camps set up by the British during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 and World War I and II. They were issued to prevent prisoners from abusing regular currency. Princely State cash coupons were issued to replace low-value metal coins during World War II; The overprinted Indian banknotes used in Burma were unique because it was the only time a country issued another nation’s banknotes during civilian rule.

In addition, banknotes used in Pakistan and the Arabian Gulf states, as well as those used by Haj pilgrims, are also on display, along with contemporary Indian banknotes.

The design and printing of the coin has undergone a meticulous process of trial and error — a series of trial and error tests. Famous designers such as Tom Archer, Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. and Waterflow & Sons have incorporated art and beauty into the process and have incorporated several security features on banknotes using micro-printing designs. .

The future of banknotes

The advent of digital has revolutionized the banking sector and the economic sector.

Is it time to write a paper money obituary?

Rezwan said he predicted in 2010 that digital currency would gain traction and prevail.

“We cannot write the obituary for Indian paper money. Digital currency is an invasion of privacy. There will always be a need for paper money, ”he added.

“Paper money is difficult to hold because of the nature of paper, which is brittle and wears out, compared to metallic money,” Rezwan said.

The museum has a temperature-controlled environment and an excellent lighting installation to preserve the historical monetary heritage to ensure that the splendid array of artifacts do not degrade.

Rezwan said the museum is open to the public and is “a history lesson for adults and children”.

Its singular mission in life is to educate students about Indian culture, history and economy through the objects on display in the museum.

His passion came to fruition after 50 years of diligent research.

Rezwan is also the co-author of ‘The Revised Standard Reference Guide to Indian Paper Money’, which was published in 2012. His second book, ‘One Rupee – One Hundred Years 1917-2017’, was published to celebrate the centenary of the Re1 banknote.

The museum was inaugurated by Dr C. Rangarajan, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on February 15, 2020.

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