Photos: A few notes about the history of paper money

  • First we foraged, then we bartered, then we used coins. Paper money – folded away and mostly forgotten – has a back story all of its own. Check out the many forms paper money has taken over the centuries.
UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST 14 Photos
1 / 14
While coin use in India, Turkey and China goes back 2600 years, the Chinese first figured out in 1024 that it’s much easier to use representative vouchers than lug piles of coins around. The first paper money originated in Sichuan. This printing plate and print are some of the oldest surviving examples. See those coins? They represent the value of the paper money.(Wikimedia Commons)

While coin use in India, Turkey and China goes back 2600 years, the Chinese first figured out in 1024 that it’s much easier to use representative vouchers than lug piles of coins around. The first paper money originated in Sichuan. This printing plate and print are some of the oldest surviving examples. See those coins? They represent the value of the paper money.(Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
2 / 14
Paper money slowly got popular throughout Asia. In Stockholm in 1661, Dutch entrepreneur Johan Palmstruch, who founded the Stockholms Banco in collaboration with the Swedish government, introduced credit notes. They came in set denominations, were watermarked, bore a date of issue, bank seal and eight banker signatures. A hit! But they issued too many and the bank was liquidated.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

Paper money slowly got popular throughout Asia. In Stockholm in 1661, Dutch entrepreneur Johan Palmstruch, who founded the Stockholms Banco in collaboration with the Swedish government, introduced credit notes. They came in set denominations, were watermarked, bore a date of issue, bank seal and eight banker signatures. A hit! But they issued too many and the bank was liquidated.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
3 / 14
Even in 1694, wars were expensive. The Bank of England was established to help with war efforts against France. But the English learnt from the Swedes to never issue more notes against the Pound Sterling than they could handle. Each note like this one was signed by hand.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

Even in 1694, wars were expensive. The Bank of England was established to help with war efforts against France. But the English learnt from the Swedes to never issue more notes against the Pound Sterling than they could handle. Each note like this one was signed by hand.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
4 / 14
Finally, paper money in India! Bank of Bombay was established in 1720, and issued interest notes. Money-like vouchers were issued by the Bank of Hindostan in 1770, General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773), Bengal Bank (1784) and Carnatic Bank (1788). Rangoon, Kanpur, Lahore and Karachi established banks too. The notes circulated conveniently within banking regions.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

Finally, paper money in India! Bank of Bombay was established in 1720, and issued interest notes. Money-like vouchers were issued by the Bank of Hindostan in 1770, General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773), Bengal Bank (1784) and Carnatic Bank (1788). Rangoon, Kanpur, Lahore and Karachi established banks too. The notes circulated conveniently within banking regions.(CurrencyWorld Asia)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
5 / 14
Paper money sparks a revolution: In British colonies in America, a Currency Act in 1764 took control of the monetary system, abolishing local-bank notes for pound-based British money. This note for the time was issued for Pennsylvania. The protests precipitated the US War of Independence in 1776. Americans instituted the US dollar in 1792.(Wikimedia Commons)

Paper money sparks a revolution: In British colonies in America, a Currency Act in 1764 took control of the monetary system, abolishing local-bank notes for pound-based British money. This note for the time was issued for Pennsylvania. The protests precipitated the US War of Independence in 1776. Americans instituted the US dollar in 1792.(Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
6 / 14
Reeling (and heavily in debt) from quelling the Revolt of 1857, control of India was passed from the East India Company to the Crown. The Paper Currency Act of 1861 gave the British the monopoly to issue notes in the colony, and profit from the interest on issuing notes against coins. The early notes were simple, featured the image of Queen Victoria, and were printed in England.(Rezwan Razack)

Reeling (and heavily in debt) from quelling the Revolt of 1857, control of India was passed from the East India Company to the Crown. The Paper Currency Act of 1861 gave the British the monopoly to issue notes in the colony, and profit from the interest on issuing notes against coins. The early notes were simple, featured the image of Queen Victoria, and were printed in England.(Rezwan Razack)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
7 / 14
The other colonies wanted a piece of the paper-money action too. The Portuguese and French issued notes for their smaller colonies soon after the British. The 10 Rupia was among the earliest designs. The 1 Rupia was issued for Goa and was in use until 1961.(Wikimedia Commons)

The other colonies wanted a piece of the paper-money action too. The Portuguese and French issued notes for their smaller colonies soon after the British. The 10 Rupia was among the earliest designs. The 1 Rupia was issued for Goa and was in use until 1961.(Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
8 / 14
Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir were the only two princely states that issued their own paper currency.(Rezwan Razack)

Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir were the only two princely states that issued their own paper currency.(Rezwan Razack)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
9 / 14
A little note with a big impact. This 10-Bani banknote, printed in Romania in 1917 holds the Guinness World Record for the tiniest banknote ever printed. Issued during the First World War, it measures a mere 27.5 mm by 38 mm.(CurrencyWorld)

A little note with a big impact. This 10-Bani banknote, printed in Romania in 1917 holds the Guinness World Record for the tiniest banknote ever printed. Issued during the First World War, it measures a mere 27.5 mm by 38 mm.(CurrencyWorld)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
10 / 14
How big can denominations get? After World War II, England printed nine £1 million pound notes to move money within and between its banks. Two notes survive with collectors, though they’ve been demonetised.(CurrencyWorld)

How big can denominations get? After World War II, England printed nine £1 million pound notes to move money within and between its banks. Two notes survive with collectors, though they’ve been demonetised.(CurrencyWorld)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
11 / 14
In 1998, Philippines issued the world’s biggest-sized banknote, to mark 100 years of freedom from Spanish rule. The commemorative 100,000 peso note measured 355.6mm in length and 215.9mm in height. Collectors could buy it for 180,000 pesos.

In 1998, Philippines issued the world’s biggest-sized banknote, to mark 100 years of freedom from Spanish rule. The commemorative 100,000 peso note measured 355.6mm in length and 215.9mm in height. Collectors could buy it for 180,000 pesos.

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
12 / 14
Twelve countries of the European Union were unified by the Euro in 1999. But for the first three years it was only used for accounting purposes and electronic payments. Coins and banknotes were launched in 2002, constituting the biggest monetary changeover in history.(Wikimedia Commons)

Twelve countries of the European Union were unified by the Euro in 1999. But for the first three years it was only used for accounting purposes and electronic payments. Coins and banknotes were launched in 2002, constituting the biggest monetary changeover in history.(Wikimedia Commons)

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
13 / 14
During the last days of its period of hyperinflation in 2009, Zimbabwe issued a 100-trillion-dollar note, the highest denomination note. But hardly the highest value. It barely bought groceries for the week. And most people used the more stable US dollar anyway.

During the last days of its period of hyperinflation in 2009, Zimbabwe issued a 100-trillion-dollar note, the highest denomination note. But hardly the highest value. It barely bought groceries for the week. And most people used the more stable US dollar anyway.

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
14 / 14
New currencies and designs are issued all the time. This 5 Libyan Dinar, printed on durable polymer, was issued in February 2021. It commemorates the 10th anniversary of the First Libyan Civil War.

New currencies and designs are issued all the time. This 5 Libyan Dinar, printed on durable polymer, was issued in February 2021. It commemorates the 10th anniversary of the First Libyan Civil War.

UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 12:27 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved