“Lankan Banknotes from 1785 to Modern”

Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (RASSL)

Public Lecture

 “Lankan Banknotes from 1785 to Modern


Dr Kavan Ratnatunga


Monday 25th February 2019 at 5.00 p.m.

at the 

Gamini Dissanayake Auditorium

No. 96, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 07 


Since the Dutch first introduced Paper currency for Ceylon in 1785 to modern currency issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is a 230-year history of change which reflects changes in Economics, Politics and Technology. Early notes in Rix Dollars were redeemable in Copper. Private Banks such as The Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London & China – Ceylon Branch, Oriental Bank Corporation issued notes from 1844, till they crashed in early 1880 due to the Coffee Blyth. Boer Prisoner of War notes issued around 1900. The government of Ceylon issued Notes with signatures of the Commissioner of Currency from 1885 to 1949. The Central Bank issue Notes under the signature of the Minister of Finance and its Governor from 1951 to present. They are just legal Tender with no intrinsic value. The language on the notes changed from Dutch to English to Sinhala with varying amount of other languages. Only the denomination has always been given in all three languages. Watermarks were introduced around the 1840s and are hardly documented. Ultraviolet printing was introduced in 1970 and their beauty remains unseen by the public who handle the Notes.