British India Issues commence with the Paper Currency Act of 1861 which gave the Government the monopoly of note issue in India. The management of paper currency across the geographical expanse of the Indian sub-continent was a task of considerable proportions. Initially the Presidency Banks were appointed as agents to promote the circulation of these notes in view of their existing infrastructure. The Act of 1861 authorized the Presidency Banks to enter into agreements with the Secretary of State for becoming agents for the issue, payment and exchange of promissory notes of the Government of India. The problem of redemption of these notes over vast expanses of the Indian sub-continent led to the concept of 'Currency Circles', where these notes were legal tender.
These Currency Circles increased in number as the Government progressively took over the work. The agency agreements with the Presidency Banks were finally terminated in 1867. The Management of Paper Currency was subsequently, in turn, entrusted to the Mint Masters, the Accountant Generals and the Controller of Currency.
Queen Victoria Series
The first set of British India notes were the 'Victoria Portrait' Series issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000. These were unifaced, carried two language panels and were printed on hand-moulded paper manufactured at the Laverstock Paper Mills (Portals). The security features incorporated the watermark (GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, RUPEES, two signatures and wavy lines), the printed signature and the registration of the notes.