Tomorrow, i.e. 30th November 2017, we will be celebrating the 100th birthday of One Rupee note! Rupee as a denomination was known in India since ancient period, but its significance was noticed in the later medieval era. It was the time when India saw the most interesting changes on its administrative and political platforms. The distance between east and west was reduced through trade, Europeans like Portuguese and French came to India. Their influence is visible through their legacy in architecture, food and the monetary system that they left behind. So come, let’s explore the glorious journey of the One Rupee notes of the Portuguese and French.

The British were not the only foreign power to issue paper money in India. The notes printed by France and Portugal were quite fascinating, especially that of the smallest denomination, one rupee note.

The Indo-Portuguese One rupee note


In 1498, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the Indian shores. They remained in power for nearly two centuries in India but due to the rise of the British East India Company, their dominion was confined to Goa and another region on the west coast of India

Portuguese issued first one rupee note in 1917, written as “Uma Rupia”. It was the second issue of ‘Banco Nacional Ultramarino’ meaning Overseas National Bank of New Goa. It was printed in London by Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. This issue of one rupee note had two types:

  • The first type (image A) consisted of a blue seal of Nova Goa on the obverse, which is called as the blue type. The reverse of which was reddish in colour.
  • The second type (image B) consisted of a Brownish seal of Nova Goa on the obverse, which is called as the brown type with Brownish Maroon colour in reverse.

The reverse side of these two notes depicts Ornamental Guilloche panel on either side of a maiden resting on an anchor with ship and water in the background.


The next series of notes were issued with some fascinating changes. The majestic Tiger, found widely in the whole Indian peninsula, was depicted on the obverse of these notes and the famous Jagannath temple of Puri (Orissa) was depicted on the reverse side.

Type a

This note was issued in 1924 as the third issue of Indo-Portuguese note series. The note was printed by Thomas de la Rue press, London on watermark paper. The note depicts text in Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati and Kannada languages.

This note illustrates two signatories of different designations like a Governor and Vice-Governor. There is a micro lettering on its signature panel.

Type b

In 1929, the fourth issue of one rupee note was circulated dated 1st January 1924 depicting an overprint text and serial number in red ink.

The number of signatories on this issue was three. The third signature was abbreviated manuscript signature below the serial number on the left window. It was a short signature of Manuel Rodriguez Juniors- an administrator of the Portuguese territories in India.

Most of the design of the note remained the same as the previous ‘type A’ note, but a steamship in the left window was added in this issue.

These notes circulated in the Indo-Portuguese territories till 1961 until Indian currency became a legal tender.

The Indo-French One rupee note

The interest of French in India began after the establishment of the French East India Company. Their supremacy reached its peak in southern Indian politics around 1750-1770s. Eventually, the war between England and French saw the decline of the French dominion and influence in India. Later on, the French settlement was confined to the east coast of India only with its centre at Pondicherry.


The banknote issued in the French colonies was managed by the ‘Banque de L’Indochine’ from Paris. Eventually, an agreement between ‘Le Comptoir D’Escompte d’Escomte de’ Paris and ‘Credit Industrial et Commercial’ set a bank to operate the circulation of money in Cochinchina and French India.

In 1877, a branch office of this bank was also opened in Pondicherry in the Oriental Bank Building. This branch was responsible for issuing French notes in India. The entire banknote issued by Banque de L’Indochine’ from 1876 to the World War I, was printed by the Bank of France.

The first one ‘Roupie’ or ‘Rupee’ note was circulated in 1920 and was signed by two signatories as the Administrators in French colonies.

The French monetary system compared to the Indian circulation was different. The money in the French occupied India was based on the silver coinage, the rupee.

The above-shown note was brought in circulation in 1924 but the date illustrated in the note is 1923. This note also contains two signatories, but their designation is the Director in French India.


The upcoming issues of one rupee also depict two signatories. The designation of these signatories was the General in the French Indian colonies. The promise text was also printed on the one rupee notes of Indo-French currency.

The vignette of this one rupee note was designed by Charles Walhain. The vignette window of these notes illustrated Marianne. She has been the symbol of France since the French revolution of 1789-99.

Marianne is the insignia of Republic of strong, proud people. During wartime, she was depicted as an aggressive woman in the battle dress.

The Banknote issued by Banque de L’Indochine ceased to be a tender from 1st November 1954, when the Indian currency became legal tender after the incorporation of French colonies into the Independent Union of India.

French and Portuguese both added great attributes to the India monetary system. The end of this currency didn’t stop the fascination but sparked the interest of the collectors and notaphilist from all over the world.

One rupee note was issued by nearly every authority or sub author reigning in India. This shows the popularity of one rupee note within the general populace. It was issued not only by the British Government but also by the Portuguese, French and Princely states like Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir. We will discuss the details of British India one rupee notes to the Issues of Independent/Republic India’s one rupee notes till date. So stay in touch and wait for tomorrow to explore the glorious journey of one rupee note on its 100th birthday!

The Mintage World Team comprises of experts, researchers and writers from the field of Philately, Notaphily and Numismatics who try to shed light on some of the most interesting aspects of coins, banknotes and stamps from not just India but across the globe as well.

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