The nation marked the 100th birthday of the Rs 1 note on November 30. Introduced on November 30, 1917, the note was brought in as minting silver coins became too costly during the First World War.
This note, along with other small-value notes such as the exotic Rs 2 and eight annas were discontinued on January 1, 1926, on cost-benefit considerations. The first Rs 1 note was printed in England with a photo of King George V on it.
The rupee started getting printed in India only after the Security Press and Currency Note Press
was established in Nasik, Maharashtra, in 1928. After the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 1935, the rupee, including the Rs 1 note, started becoming the fiat currency of the nation.
In 1940, the Rs 1 note was re-introduced with the status of a rupee coin. The note had the image of a rupee coin with a photo of King George VI. After Independence, the currency presses were busy printing notes for both India and the newly-created Pakistan. Once that arrangement was over, Independent India’s first Rs 1 note was printed in 1949 with the Lion Capitol of the Ashoka Pillar. The note was signed by India’s first Finance Secretary R K Shanmukham Chetty.
While all other notes have the RBI
governor’s signature, the Rs 1 note is signed by the finance secretary as a testimony that it is the base unit of the currency system and an “asset” of the government. Hence, the note does not say “I promise to pay the bearer”, unlike other notes. Basically, when the RBI
governor says I promise to pay Rs 10, he essentially means he will pay 10 one-rupee coins or notes, which are assets of the sovereign. The Rs 1 note has seen several revisions, and after being discontinued in 1994, was reintroduced in 2015, quickly scaling up to 160 million pieces in two years.