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King George V – 1917 Issue – One Rupee, Author - Mr. Rezwan Razack
British India - India Bank notes - India Paper Money - India Currency
King George V - 1917 Issue - 1 Rupee - Obverse
King George V – 1917 Issue – 1 Rupee - Reverse - Wrong Gujarati
Unstapled Note without perforation on left side; Star enclosed in a rectangle watermark; ‘A’ Prefix – Cawnpore Circle – 1st Print - Sea Sunk; Signed by M. M. S. Gubbay;
King George V – 1917 Issue – 1 Rupee: Order in chaos
Even though the King George V - 1917 Issue - 1 Rupee commenced with Prefix ‘A’, there was chaos as there was no continuity to the signatories of the prefixes. Even though the notes should follow the alphabetical order and a pattern with regards to prefix and signatory, there is however, a disconnect as earlier signatory has a signed a note with a later prefix. By 1910, there remained only seven circles of issue namely Cawnpore, Bombay, Calcutta, Karachi, Lahore, Madras and Rangoon. All other sub-circles were merged with these seven main circles. Like in the case of the Rs.2½ issue, the Re.1 King George V 1917 Issue also in its first print had the indication of the prefix representing the circle of issue. The first 1 Rupee notes were issued on 30th November 1917.

In July 1918, the German torpedoes sank a ship named SS Shirala carrying a consignment of 1 Rupee notes from England to India. This was the second print. These notes were pre-signed and were legal tender. This was the first case of notes that sank which were pre-signed before they arrived to India from England. Some of these notes that were washed ashore were found on the Southern coast of England. The notes with prefix ‘A’, ‘K’, ‘L’, ‘M’ & ‘R’ were part of this shipment that sank. There was already a quantity of notes with the above prefixes in circulation, which were withdrawn. Further re-prints for circulation continued with prefixes ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’, ‘H’ & ‘J’, and thereafter, from ‘N’ to ‘S’, with the exception of ‘K’, ‘L’, ‘M’ & ‘R’ as they were already used in the first issue and withdrawn. The prefix ‘I’ was never used as it denoted a number and not an alphabet. The prefix ‘Q’ was also not used as prefix ‘O’ had been used instead. The 1 Rupee Notes were printed with Prefix ‘A’ to ‘Z’ with the exception of ‘I’, ‘Q’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘V’ & ‘W’.
1st Issue – 1st Print
Signatory Prefix Issuing Circle Watermark Gujarati on Reverse
M. M. S. Gubbay 'A' Cawnpore Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'B' Bombay Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'C' Calcutta Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'K' Karachi Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'L' Lahore Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'M' Madras Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
M. M. S. Gubbay 'R' Rangoon Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati
*All the notes with the above prefixes were without perforation and with wrong Gujarati on the reverse.
Government of India reinforces trust in Paper Currency:
It is necessary to understand the circumstance and events that necessitated the printing and issuing notes of smaller denomination in India as until 1917 the smallest denomination of Indian Currency note was 5 Rupees. A huge distrust in the currency notes of all denominations arose from 1916. This resulted in the public encashing these currency notes into coins. The currency notes were also subjected to discount of its par value. The Government of India was put to great test in retaining the trust of the public in currency notes by converting them to silver from paper. The Government faced a situation where the silver got exhausted and they could not convert the currency notes in many cases. The World War I also added to the misery of the Government. Even gold sovereigns were offered to the public in exchange of the currency notes. This failed because they came back to the Treasuries as soon as they were issued. The rise in price of silver also did not help as people indulged in speculation and hoarded coins. This severe shortage and price rise in silver and other metals caused by the World War made people hoard silver for personal gains. The situation would have been quite drastic if USA had not supported India by melting 200 million troy ounces of silver and delivering that to India in 1918, which in turn produced 260 million silver rupees.

Birth of King George V – 1917 Issue- 1 Rupee & 2 ½ Rupees notes:
The Government of India, in order to economize and conserve the use of silver commenced issuing paper money of small denominations. Thus was born notes of 1 Rupee. This was followed by an issue of 2½ Rupees. They were issued to public directly from the Currency Offices from January 1918 onwards and from District Treasuries from April 1918. These notes could also be encashed at Post Offices. There was no restriction of encashment anywhere within the Union of India and had the status of being universalized.

The 1 Rupee and 2½ Rupees notes were very unpopular and were traded / accepted only on a varying discount, the maximum being 19%. They were accepted on par because of its wide acceptance and use from 1920 onwards.

King George V – 1917 Issue - 1 Rupee Packet & Booklet:
Without perforations & perforated:
The first issue of 1 Rupee was in the form of a packet of 25 notes, which were unstapled, therefore without any perforation on any side. There were instances of these packets containing irregular quantity of notes – lesser or greater than 25 notes, which were reported to the Controller of Currency. This necessitated in 25 notes being bound in a booklet either by stapling or stitching, from 1919 and resembled a miniature chequebook. The outer cover in red carried printed slogans to popularize Government Efforts and Programmes. These stapled / stitched notes have a visible perforated edge on the left.
King George V – 1917 Issue – 1 Rupee - Stapled Booklet
Note with perforation on left side; ‘D’ Prefix - Universalised
E’ Prefix with correct Gujarati on reverse

Special features of King George V - - 1917 Issue - 1 Rupee Note - 1st Issue :
  • Issued on 30th Nov’1917.
  • Discontinued on 1st Jan’1926.
  • Printed in England.
  • Paper – White hand-made moulded paper.
  • 3 signatories – M. M. S. Gubbay, A. C. Mc Watters & H. Denning.
  • Watermark – two varieties – star enclosed in a rectangle and rayed star.
  • First pre-signed notes shipped from England.
  • The only issue of Indian Paper Money having prefix ‘O’.
Correction in Gujarati Language:
An error in the Gujarati language printed on the reverse of the note was noticed. The Gujarati script is represented on the eighth panel on the reverse. This error was corrected in prefix ‘D’ itself. However, there have been notes that have been observed in later prefix including prefix ‘H’ that have the error in Gujarati language printed on the reverse. This is because while production, the earlier paper with error Gujarati must have been used.
Only denomination in Indian Paper Money with ‘O’ Prefix
Prefix ‘O’:
The only instance of prefix ‘O’ being used in Indian Paper Money is in the 1st Issue of King George V One Rupee. The prefix ‘O’ is never used in Indian Paper Money as it is confused with the numeral zero. The prefix ‘I’ is also not used for the same reason as it signifies the numeral one.
East Africa issues of King George V – 1917 Issue - 1 Rupee :
Prefix ‘X’, ‘Y’ & ‘Z’:
There is also a note signed by M.M.S.Gubbay prefix ‘X’ with corrected Gujarati on the reverse. This was because notes with prefix ‘X’, ‘Y’ & ‘Z’ were used for circulation in British East Africa. There was a split in signature in prefix ‘X’. A.C.McWatters signed the remaining prefix ‘X’ along with ‘Y’ & ‘Z’. This issue has the enclosed star watermark.

Split in signature:
The first signature split occurred in prefix ‘J’ and prefix ‘X’. That is M.M.S.Gubbay to A.C.McWatters. The second split occurred in prefix ‘S’, that is, A.C.McWatters to H.Denning.
‘J’ Prefix; Signed by M. M. S. Gubbay
‘J’ Prefix; Signed by A. C. McWatters
‘S’ Prefix; Signed by H. Denning
Obverse - Rayed Star watermark; ‘S’ Prefix – Universalised; Signed by A. C. McWatters
Reverse - Correct Gujarati
‘X’ Prefix – Universalised; Signed by M. M. S. Gubbay
Reverse - Correct Gujarati
‘X’ Prefix – Universalised; Signed by A. C. McWatters
Reverse - Correct Gujarati
Split in watermark:
There was a change in watermark from a star enclosed in a rectangle to rayed star. This split in change of watermark occurred in prefix ‘P’. The rayed star watermark 1 Rupee note was signed by A.C.McWatters in prefix ‘P’ & ‘S’ and by H.Denning in prefix ‘S’ only.
‘P’ Prefix; Star enclosed in a rectangle watermark
'P' Prefix; Rayed Star watermark
King George V - 1 Rupee 1917 Issue - Table of all Prefix
Signatory Prefix Issuing Circle Watermark Gujarati on Reverse Remarks
M. M. S. Gubbay 'A' Cawnpore Watermark Wrong Gujarati 1st print & Sea sunk
M. M. S. Gubbay 'B' Bombay Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'C' Calcutta Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'D' Universalised Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'D' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Gujarati Corrected
M. M. S. Gubbay 'E' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'F' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'G' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'H' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
M. M. S. Gubbay 'J' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Split in signature
A. C. McWatters 'J' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Split in signature
M. M. S. Gubbay 'K' Karachi Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati 1st print & Sea sunk
M. M. S. Gubbay 'L' Lahore Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati 1st print & Sea sunk
M. M. S. Gubbay 'M' Madras Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati 1st print & Sea sunk
A. C. McWatters 'N' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
A. C. McWatters 'O' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
A. C. McWatters 'P' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
A. C. McWatters 'P' Universalised Rayed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
M. M. S. Gubbay 'R' Rangoon Enclosed star Wrong Gujarati 1st print & Sea sunk
A. C. McWatters 'S' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
H. Denning 'S' Universalised Rayed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
M. M. S. Gubbay 'X' Universalised Rayed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
A. C. McWatters 'X' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati Split in watermark
A. C. McWatters 'Y' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
A. C. McWatters 'Z' Universalised Enclosed star Correct Gujarati  
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