My friend Devarajen Kanaksabee,
Thank you for your endeavour to raise some salient points in your article entitled “The First Family Bank Notes to be Issued by the Government” in Forum of Le Mauricien of 9th October, 2012, in response to my article bearing the title “Of Coinage, Stamps, Bank notes and Personalities” in Forum of the same newspaper of 17 September 2012.
For having rubbed shoulders with you for some time now, I am very well aware, dear “Indeeren”, of the very keen and particular interest you have always shown in matters pertaining to our national heritage, to arts and culture, philately and numismatics etc. In your analysis of my article you have raised some quite interesting points and to which I would gladly like to respond. I thank you at the same time for having given me the opportunity to put the record straight.
As regards the issue of bank notes of R5 and R10 in 1934, I concur with you that I was not precise in my paper. Definitely, I should have mentioned that I was referring to 1934 bank notes as being the notes which were the first ones to be issued showing the effigy of a ruler and that the period I was covering was 1900 to 1968 i.e to the pre-independence period as from year 1900. So I do agree that what was clear in my mind could not be so in the mind of the readers. In fact, my aim was to show that the bank notes with a ruler’s effigy were the first notes to be issued in 1934 beginning from 1900 as distinct from bank notes issued as from 1900 and not bearing any rulers’ effigy.
I now, dear friend, come to your point of view which differs from mine as a result of an omission I made and which resulted in a confusion on the Edward VII R1, R½ and R¼ issue. I should have completed the related sentence by “for Mauritius” to read as follows “as queer as it might appear, during the reign of Edward VII, no bank notes or coins were issued for Mauritius”. In fact, no Edwardian coins or bank notes were issued in Mauritius. The Edward VII coins reproduced in your article come from India but, were, however, in circulation in Mauritius at that period as was the case for some Dutch, French, British coins bearing different dates, legends, effigies etc. and which circulated in our country at different periods for years. I thank you for your reaction and also for enabling me again to set the record straight. However, it is good to note that Ordinance No. 10 of 1935 put an end to the legal tender of Indian coins in circulation in Mauritius with effect from 29 June, 1939.
Apart from the coinage of the French East India Company in circulation in Mauritius, I would also like to mention that of the British East India Company (B.E.I.C, 1935) and that of the Regal coinage of British India (1862 to 1914), though the B.E.I.C coinage was not legal tender in Mauritius unlike that of the Regal coinage which became legal tender as from 1st January, 1877. Some coins of the different countries in circulation in Mauritius and which I would like to mention amongst others were the Spanish piastre, the fanon or monneron coins, the Spanish doubloon, Pagoda, gold Mohurs, 1 sol Colonies Françoises, Spanish 8 reales, French francs, sou marqué, Maria Theresia thaler, anchor money, Indian annas, sicca rupee, cash or pice coin, 50 sous and 25 token sous etc.
As you have opened the debate, I would like, in the same spirit, to throw some light on the issue of some bank notes as from 1849, one of the years you mentioned up to 1942 by presenting a brief overview on them:
1849 – Issue of R10 and R5 notes
Under Ordinance No. 6 of August 1849, the Imperial Government set up the Board of the Commissioners of Currency comprising, at that time, the Colonial Secretary, the Auditor General and the Colonial Treasurer. The authority was given to issue R10 and R5 notes of 114 x 200mm and which were put into circulation on 1st September 1849 after an arrangement had been made with the Mauritius Commercial Bank for the shifting of pecuniary transaction to that institution. The value of the notes and their value in digits were inscribed in Bengali and Urdu as the first batch of indentured labourers came from Calcutta. Arabic numerals for the number 10 and 5 were inserted in the water mark, Government of Mauritius, in between two letters.
1876 – R50, R10, R5 notes
Ordinance No. 28 of 1876 gave the authority to Currency Commissioners to issue notes of R50 (white), R10 (pink) and R5 (yellow-brown) from De la Rue, thus putting an end to the legal tender which the pound sterling or “dollar” notes had. The value of those notes were inscribed in English, Tamil and Hindi both in letters and numerals. Those 1876 notes resembled cheques. The R50 note is rare.
(c ) 1907 – R50, R10, R5 notes
In 1907, similar notes as (b), dated 19 October, 1907 were issued. They bore rubber-stamped signatures of the Commissioners of Currency and they were not like cheques, but as usual bank notes. The R50 note is a rarity.
1913 – R50, R10, R5 notes
Similar types of notes as (c) were issued in May 1913. They bore the signatures of the Collector of Customs, H. C. Scroggs and of the Receiver General, E.A Grannum. Their signatures appear on all existing notes for that period and for 1st October 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917 probably, 1918 and 1st January 1920. A specimen of the R50 note may exist.
(e) 1919 - R1 note
In 1919, the Government imported anna coins from India to make them legal tender in Mauritius in replacement of ½ and ¼ silver rupees. In the same 1919 year, the Government, as per an Ordinance, issued a R1 note which was printed by De la rue. The note shows at the right, a harbour view with Tamil and Hindi characters for R1 and for the value in words in the middle of the note. That note is dated 1st July, 1919 and is signed by E. A. Grannum and H. C. Scroggs. It is reproduced in this paper. It measures 76 mm x 126 mm.
1924 – R10, R5 notes
In 1924, R10 and R5 notes similar to (d) were issued. A R50 note was, apparently, not issued.
George V notes of R10 and R5 were issued in 1934 whereas those of George VI were issued in 1936/1937. In 1941 George VI R1 note was issued followed by 50 cents and 25 cents notes in 1943. Following the scarcity of silver coins, as a result of hoarding of the silver coins by many people, a R1 note was printed in 1942 on R10 demonetised notes and were cut into two pieces. The note was signed by S. Moody and J. K. Ramsden.
As regards the language inversion on the set of 1998 bank notes where the Tamil inscription which used to be printed after that of English, was shifted to the third position after Hindi, I am quite aware as many Mauritians are, that the issue created unrest, turmoil and distress. We were all happy that the necessary remedial action was promptly taken by the Government to redress the situation for social harmony and above all for history’s sake.