Reserve Bank of India Monetary Museum
Reserve Bank of India Monetary Museum, RBI Monetary Museum – is a numismatic museum, located in the southern part of the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the capital of the modern Indian state of Maharashtra.
Where is it situated?
To get to the museum, you should go to the Fort — the old business center of Mumbai, where almost at the end of the Firozshaha Mehta Street, directly opposite the Apna Bazaar shopping center, are the offices of the Reserve Bank of India. On the first floor of the Amar Building, in the premises of one of the old offices of the Bank is the Monetary Museum.
The official address of the Museum: RBI Monetary Museum, Ground Floor, Amar Building, Phirozeshah Mehta Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001, Maharashtra, India.
Phone: +91 (0) 22 2261 4043, +91 (0) 22 2266 1644 ext 4005
Fax: +91 (0) 22 2270 2820
Curator: Mr PV Radhakrishnan, an expert on ancient Roman and South India coins.
It is open from 10.45 to 17.15 every day except Sundays and bank holidays. On Saturdays the museum is open until 13.15.
The entrance ticket costs 10 rupees, for both locals and foreigners. School children and college students’ visits are free.
The Museum has boxes for the visitors’ bags, provides with drinking water, and offers a recreation room.
The museum’s parking lot can accommodate six cars or two buses.
The Museum has an information booth and a kiosk that sells four types of information brochures and various souvenirs. Always on sale are:
The Museum has an interactive screen showing the current exchange of major currencies of the world, giving the visitors opportunity to «play on exchange rates,» as it happens in real markets.
There is also a detailed and clear exposition on «How to recognize a counterfeit bill.»
There is a special hall where quizzes for pupils and students are organized. In addition, the Museum staff conducts quizzes in the schools of the city of Mumbai and its suburbs, organizes guided and virtual tours, multimedia presentations, telling in details the history of Indian paper currency. Museum workers travel with the moving exhibitions to the major cities of India.
All the exhibitions, tours and presentations should be coordinated with the curator of the Museum.
Pictures and videos are prohibited.
The foundation of the Museum
The museum is owned by the Reserve Bank of India — the main bank of the country, founded under colonial rule, on April 1, 1935. The Monetary Museum was officially opened by the President of India Abdul Kalam in 2004 and today is the only one in the country. The museum was opened to the public Jan. 1, 2005.
It is known that India is one of the first countries to mint coins. The purpose of the museum’s creation was the desire of the Indian government to promote the history of national currencies, making it part of the man’s usual horizons, particularly among children and adolescents of school age, to draw attention to the study of the historical development of the concepts of cash and cash equivalents. Collecting the exhibits begun much earlier and the first exhibition of the museum appeared in 1998.
Funds of the Museum
The Museum clearly shows the complete history of Indian cash and cash equivalents from the period of barter to modern bank credit cards. Among the exhibits there are many interesting and rare items, the earliest date back to the last stage of the Stone Age — Neolithic.
The museum’s funds contain coins of various shapes and sizes, ranging from the 6th century BC up to our time, banknotes and all kinds of securities, including their unique species found only in India and some neighboring countries.
Getting acquainted with the exhibits of the Museum, you can trace the history of all dynasties, rulers and principalities in India.
The exhibits are provided with a brief and deeply informative explanatory text in two languages: Hindi and English as well as explanatory drawings intended for young children.
Thematically, the museum exhibition is divided into six sections.
The first Section
The first section represents the exhibits, which tell about the general idea of money, money exchange, and related concepts. The origin and evolution of these concepts can be clearly traced in the survey of the coins and items that were used instead of money before. In cases when it is impossible to show the relevant items, they are replaced by simple and witty drawings. Thus, during the Neolithic money equivalent were stones and stone tools — such as axes; later blade knives, beads, cowrie shells. Later came the first coins, some of which were quite bizarre in the shape of boats, bullets, bracelets, bent metal pieces. In addition to round coins, there were triangular, square, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or even octagonal. The coins had different signs. Gradually there were coins of different denominations: Anna, Mohur, Tanka, Naya, Paisa, Rupee etc. Various metals such as gold, silver, copper, nickel, lead, and alloys: an electron (an alloy of gold and silver), billon (an alloy of silver and copper), and others began to be used for the mintage. More than 1,500 exhibits mostly acquired from the private collectors are stored in this section.
The second section
The second section is devoted to the monetary system of India. It houses a rich collection of coins from ancient, medieval and modern India. The earliest coins were made of silver; they date back to the 6th century BC. The symbols of corresponding historical period were depicted on the coins. Such coins are characteristic for the states of Gandhara (6-4 cc BC), Avanti (5th century BC), as well as for the Maurya dynasty (4-2 centuries BC.) and other Emperors of Magadha. In this section, you can see the coins of the Kura Dynasty (1. BC) Shatavahanas (1. BC-3 AD), Gupta Dynasties (3-6 cc. BC .), coins of Greek settlements in the Indian subcontinent, the first gold coins minted in the beginning of our era in the Kushana state, and many other coins, including the coins of the Sultanate of Delhi and peripheral Madurai sultanates, Bengal, Gujarat and Mulva (15-17 cc.). The Museum exhibits practically all types of Indian coins. It’s interesting that the Indian silver coin was standardized only in the 16th century by the Mongolian ruler Shershahom Suri. At his command the weight of one silver coin was equal to one tola, or
11.6 gr. It was this coin that in the end turned into a modern Indian coin of one rupee. Despite the two-hundred-colonization of the country and the coins with portraits of the rulers of the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc., some provinces and principalities continued to issue their own money until 1947, when India gained independence.
A special section here is devoted to the Indo-European coins dating to the colonial period. It possesses coins of different denominations, which were minted by the British, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and French. In addition, the second section of the museum represents special coins, which are minted for the significant dates and public holidays — for example, the coins issued for IX Summer Asian Games, held in 1982 in New Delhi.
The third Section
In the third section the visitors have a chance to get acquainted with a variety of bank and other types of securities. Indian system of usage of such securities is regulated by the Negotiable Instruments Act, passed in 1881.
Special attention among the monetary instruments can be drawn to the so-called ‘hundi’. This is a type of securities that circulate only in Hindustan. They are known for a long time and, despite the fact that they are not part of the official exchange-money system, they are still extremely popular. Hundi are finance-related receipts or instructions and are of three types: promissory notes, bills of exchange and payment hundis.
The fourth section
The fourth section is devoted to the history of the appearance of paper bills. All samples of British and post-colonial India paper money are represented here. The most interesting can be considered long-obsolete banknotes with portraits of the rulers of the United Kingdom, as well as small denomination banknotes, including exotic “rupees two annas eight”, issued from 1917 to 1926. Today the cost of this bill in the current Indian auctions comes up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of rupees.
From 1861 until the formation of the Reserve Bank of India in 1935, only the Indian government possessed the right of issuing banknotes. Since 1935, this right was transferred to the Reserve Bank of India, with the exception of a special banknote of one rupee, which was issued during the First World War in August 1940, and up to 1994. In order not to violate the law, the Indian government, which minted this coin, equating it to the status of a one rupee coin.
The Fifth Section
The fifth section is an exposition of modern money and securities, and provides information on the financial system of India today.
The Sixth Section
This section is entirely devoted to the Reserve Bank of India, its history and activities for the whole period of the existence. Here is a brief history of modern Indian banks from 1720 to 1854, compiled on the basis of the state of Maharashtra archives, archives of the Reserve Bank of India, etc. All the presidents of the Reserve Bank of India, from the very first — Sir Osborne A. Smith, who ran this bank since its inception to June 1937 are also represented in this section.
On opening day, April 1, 1935, the initial capital of the Reserve Bank of India was 5 crore (50 million) rupees. According to the first annual report in the currency of India there were 172 crore (1 billion 720 million) rupees.
The Reserve Bank of India Monetary Museum continues to increase its exposures and to expand the collections.