The 1917 one-rupee note.
The 1917 one-rupee note.

The humble 1 currency note turns 100

The first one-rupee note was printed in England and issued on November 30, 1917, in India, with an image of King George V
By Yesha Kotak | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON DEC 01, 2017 07:34 PM IST

Today, the humble one-rupee note turns 100 years in age. The first Re1 note printed in England was issued on November 30, 1917 in India, with an image of King George V, the then British monarch, imprinted on the left corner. Although currency notes were being issued by the government of India since 1861, the Re1 note was launched in 1917 because the silver used for the Re1 coin was melted for making weaponry components during World War I.

When it was issued in 1917, Re1 was equal to 10.7 gms of silver. Taking into consideration the present value of silver — Rs390 for 10 grams — numismatists estimate that over its 100-year life, the value of Re1 has depreciated around 400 times.

ONE-RUPEE RAPID FIRE

Rs390: Approximate value of a Re1 note in 1917, equivalent to a Re1 silver coin

Rs1-4: Average daily wages in 1917

44: Number of iterations of the Re1 note issued by RBI since it was first launched

Rs2.75lakh: The amount that a 1985-issue Re1 note signed by S Venkitaramanan, the 18th governor of the Reserve Bank of India, sold for on January 21, 2017 at Classical Numismatics Gallery

Although Re1 currency notes are still around, coins are more common. But there is a big demand for notes, especially for festivals and other auspicious occasions where Re1 is added while gifting money.

Sushilkumar Agrawal, CEO, mintageworld.com, an online museum for coins, currency notes and stamps, said during festivals, a bundle of 100 Re1 notes is bought for as much as Rs15,000. “Re1 note is considered prestigious because people add Re1 when they are gifting someone, and notes are always preferred over coins in such cases,” he said.

Girish Veera, owner, Oswal Antiques, had a different view: “Re1 note of 1917 may not fetch higher values in auction, but it has historical importance.”

Rezwan Razack, an author from Bengaluru, has around 100 notes of Re1. “It is because of my hobby that I have learnt history,” said Razack.

The Reserve Bank of India was unavailable for comments on the centenary year of the Re1 note.

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