In the heart of Bengaluru is a museum dedicated exclusively to Indian currency notes, as they evolved from 1812.
The Rezwan Razack’s Museum of Indian Paper Money showcases currency-based artefacts and notes featuring British monarchs. But it also happens to house the first currency notes with Gandhi’s portrait.
“The RBI first issued notes with Gandhi to commemorate his 100th birth anniversary in 1969. Earlier, in 1948-49, there was a suggestion to use a portrait of Gandhi; the idea was however shelved and instead the Lion Capital at Sarnath or the Ashoka Pillar was used on notes, replacing the portrait of King George VI,” says Razack, co-founder of the Prestigue Group, who launched the private museum in 2020. “This emblem continued to be used on the notes until 1987, when the portrait of Gandhi was printed on ₹500 notes. From 1998, all denominations except ₹1 depicted him.”
The collector also has paintings that renowned artist N.S. Subbakrishna of Mysore made for the commemorative currency and bank notes of all denominations. Subbakrishna submitted hand-painted sketches in 1968, drawn in Indian ink for ₹2, ₹5, ₹10 and ₹100 notes and three sketches for the ₹1 coin. The judging committee selected a sketch depicting a seated Gandhi with the Sevagram Ashram as the backdrop. Subbakrishna was awarded a prize of ₹1,000 by the RBI for his design. The notes were issued for circulation from October 2, 1969.