The history of the rupees traces back to Ancient India in circa 6th century BC. Ancient India was the earliest issuers of coins in the world, along with the Chinese wen and Lydian staters.
The word rūpiya is deived from a Sanskrit word rūpa, which means "wrought silver, a coin of silver", in origin an adjective meaning "shapely", with a more specific meaning of "stamped, impressed", whence "coin".
Arthashastra, written by Chanakya, prime minister to the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta Maurya(c. 340-290 BCE), mentions silver coins as rupyarupa, other types including gold coins (Suvarnarupa), copper coins ( Tamararupa) and lead coins (Sisarupa) are mentioned. Rupa means form or shape, example, Rupyarupa, Rupya – wrought silver, rupa – form.
Sher Shah Suri, during his five year rule from 1540 to 1545, set up a new civic and military administration and issued a coin of silver, weighing 178 grains, which was termed the Rupiya. The silver coin remained in use during the Mughal period, Maratha era as well as in British India.
Among the earliest issues of paper rupees include the Bank of Hindostan (1770–1832), the General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773–75, established by Warren Hastings), and the Bengal Bank (1784–91).
The Indian rupee was a silver-based currency during much of the 19th century, which had severe consequences on the standard value of the currency, as STRONGER ECONOMIES WERE ON THE GOLD STANDARD.
During British rule, and the first decade of independence, the rupee was subdivided into 16 annas. Each anna was subdivided into either 4 paisas. So one rupee was equal to 16 annas, 64 paise.
In 1957, decimalisation occurred and the rupee was divided into 100 naye paise (Hindi/Urdu for new paisas). After a few years, the initial "naye" was dropped.
For many years in the early and mid-20th century, the Indian rupee was the official currency in several areas that were controlled by the British and governed from India; areas such as East Africa, Southern Arabia and THE PERSIAN GULF.
2 Early uses
Ancient India in circa 6th century BC, was one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world, along with the Chinese wen and Lydian staters. The first "rupee" is believed to have been introduced by Sher Shah Suri (1486–1545), based on a ratio of 40 copper pieces (paisa) per rupee.
3 Coinage since the British period
The British settlements in Western India, South India, and the Eastern Province of Bengal (Calcutta) independently developed different coinages in consonance with the local acceptability of the coins for the purposes of trade.
1 Paisa coupon issued by Sayla state
One rupee, Queen Victoria series, 1862
Half anna (3 paisa) coin; an anna = 6 paisa, George VI series, 1945
Original East India Company coins show only the coat of arms of the East India Company.
The coins of Bengal were developed in the Mughal style and those of Madras mostly in a South Indian style. The English coins of Western India developed along Mughal as well as English patterns. It was only in 1717 AD that the English obtained permission from the Emperor Farrukh Siyar to coin Mughal money at the Bombay mint.
The British gold coins were termed Carolina, the silver coins Anglina, the copper coins Cupperoon and tin coins Tinny. By the early 1830, the English had become the dominant power in India. THE COINAGE ACT OF 1835 PROVIDED FOR UNIFORM COINAGE THROUGHOUT INDIA.
The new coins had the effigy of William IV on the obverse and the value on the reverse in English and Persian. The coins issued after 1840 bore the portrait of Queen Victoria. The first coinage under the crown was issued in 1862 and in 1877 Queen Victoria assumed the title the Empress of India.
The 1911 accession to the throne of the King-Emperor George V led to the famous "pig rupee". On the coin the King appeared wearing the chain of the Order of the Indian Elephant. Through poor engraving the elephant looked very much like a pig. The Muslim population was enraged and the image had to be quickly redesigned.
ACUTE SHORTAGE OF SILVER DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR, LED TO THE INTRODUCTION OF PAPER CURRENCY OF ONE RUPEE AND TWO AND A HALF RUPEES. The silver coins of smaller denominations were issued in cupro-nickel. The compulsion of the Second World War led to experiments in coinage where the standard rupee was replaced by the "Quaternary Silver Alloy". The Quaternary Silver coins were issued from 1940. In 1947 these were replaced by pure Nickel coins.
Immediately after independence, the British coinage was continued. The Monetary System remained unchanged at One Rupee consisting of 64 pice
The "Anna Series" was introduced on 15 August 1950. this was the first coinage of Republic of India. The King’s Portrait was replaced by the Ashoka’s Lion Capital. A corn sheaf replaced the Tiger on the one Rupee coin. The monetary system was retained with one Rupee consisting of 16 Annas.
My note- I can recollect the rupee and annas now. I can recollect one anna, 2 anna, 1/4th rupee, ½ rupee and one rupee. I am born in 1944.
The 1955 Indian Coinage (Amendment) Act, that came into force with effect from 1 April 1957, introduced a "Decimal series".
The rupee was now divided into 100 ‘Paisa’ instead of 16 Annas or 64 Pice. The "Naye Paise" coins were minted in the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Naye Paise.
BOTH THE ANNA SERIES AND THE NAYE PAISE COINS WERE VALID FOR SOME TIME.
From 1968 onward, the new coins were called just Paise instead of Naye Paise because they were no more naye = new.
With high inflation in the sixties, small denomination coins which were made of bronze, nickel-brass, cupro-nickel, and aluminium-bronze were gradually minted in Aluminium. This change commenced with the introduction of the new hexagonal 3 paise coin.
A twenty paise coin was introduced in 1968 but did not gain much popularity.
My note- It was with lotus picture, I can recollect now.
Over a period, cost benefit considerations led to the gradual discontinuance of 1, 2 and 3 paise coins in the 1970s. Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paise, was introduced in 1988 and of one rupee in 1992. The very considerable costs of managing note issues of Re 1, Rs 2, and Rs 5 led to the gradual coinisation of these denominations in the 1990s.
4 Since 1947
Since its Independence in 1947, India has faced two major financial crises and two consequent devaluations of the rupee: In 1966 and 1991.
I will continue as another posting