The published articles are meant to primarily educate the students in printing to supplement their knowledge in the field of Printing. These are not simple Glossary of printing terms, but to the extent possible every term has been explained in brief so that it can be of some use to the students who appear in some sort of examinations and interviews.
I served the Printing Industry for over 40 years
in various capacities, a major part in an Security Printing Organization. In order not to waste the printing and paper related knowledge which I gained over years, I decided to keep them in public domain for the reason stated in prepara. Most of the illustrations - over 90% - have been generated by me to explain the terms suitably.
While I am not sure to what extent the published content will help, if the content is going to be of use to some one in some manner, I will be greatly satisfied.
Your views may be sent to me ( for my record and correction wherever needed.



- Over 400 terms-

Click on this line to read from 'A'

Saturday, June 10, 2017

News in HIndu National Paper

Interesting news 
that appeared in the 
National Daily 'The Hindu'
News Paper dated 10-06-2017 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Digital Water Marking

What is digital Water marking?
‘Digital Watermarking’ is an extended technology of ‘Water marking on paper’ concept. By embedding various types of information in multimedia like video, audio and digitally printed images which are personal to the owner (Copyright), they can be protected. While some digital data is meant for only reading, some are meant for commercial use if any with due permission from the author. The Digital Water marking process is one of the best process deployed for protecting copyright multimedia data and images besides photographs on net held by private individuals because multimedia content and data can easily be copied, modified and redistributed again in illegal manner. 

The Digital water mark, a kind of invisible marker covertly embedded in digital images help prevent illegal or unauthorized use by others without permission from the owners. Digital watermarking is also meant for protection of digital data exchanged in internet because once embedded, the misuse by anyone can be detected through decoding of the Digital watermark embedded. The Digital watermarking process involves embedding secret information using algorithm and the information can only be extracted with similar algorithm. In short the algorithm enables merger of the watermark information into the data in invisible format and therefore only by deploying the same extracting algorithm, the water mark information could be decoded.  
A digital Watermark can both be in invisible as well as in visible format. It is inserted in the form of binary bits to the image to hold secret information. While the visible watermark  is visible to naked eyes, the invisible watermark cannot be seen by the viewers and therefore invisible Digital water mark  is considered to be more protective to safeguard the copyright images on net. The added digital Water mark in the form of information can be more or less transparent to make it either easy or hard to notice. Few researchers suggest the origin for embedding and decoding the secret information to an interesting historical story which sounds logical.

Histiaeus, Greek by birth was tyrant of Miletus (name of a city in the then Greece) under the rule of Darius, the Persian King in Asia Minor and helped him win many battles. Histiaeus enjoyed the fullest confidence of King Darius who after triumph in a war decided to take Histiaeus to Susa along with him, a place ruled by him. Though internally disinterested to leave Miletus, the tyrant Histiaeus could not dare to disobey the orders of the King and therefore compelled to go with him. After he went to Susa, he planned to somehow return back to Miletus and therefore secretly organized a coup in the land of Ionia through some of his close aids so that the King Darius would send back to Miletus to contain the revolt. Since he cannot come out openly to organize the coup in 499 BC, he shaved off the head of one of his most trusted slave, tattooed secret message for revolting against the Persians, and then waited for his hair to grow back. Once the hair over the slave’s head had fully grown the slave was sent to Miletus to meet the trusted confident of Histiaeus with instruction to shave off the hair to read the message.   This was perhaps the first ever concealed message sent covertly over some one’s body and method  to decode the information. The art of concealing secret information covertly over ones’ own body which could be read only if the top layer is removed, triggered the invention of concealing secret information in images and then extracting the hidden ones from inside so opine some of the researchers.

Any image on net or other multimedia is nothing but combination of Pixels and each Pixel is represented by few tiny binary bits. Similarly the Digital Watermark is also a pattern of bits inserted into a image, audio or video file in the form of invisible binary bits. The Digital Watermark is added to a picture or a photographic print by changing the image on the pixel level. It does not mean that the image is changed from its original appearance. Every image on net consists of several small square dots called pixels (something similar to the halftone dots on printed images) and each pixel forms one dot of the image reproduced in net by way of digital signal.

The invisible Digital Water mark which is also in binary bit in pixels is embedded in such a manner that the changes made to the Pixel values are perceptually not noticeable. Only certain specialized electronic devices could scan and extract the hidden information to identify the embedded content. The basic theory involved in the digital Water marking is insertion of pixels that merge with the pixels in the original image.

For example 100% RGB (Red, Green & Blue) values of the original Pixels would be reduced to 90 % values and 10% values of the same RGB (Red, Green & Blue) will be compensated by the pixels of the Watermark inserted. The resultant image will definitely be not that of 100 % in original shade, which may not glaringly appear to naked eyes, but could only be detected by gadgets as 10 % Water mark pixels that are inserted merge with original image pixels in transparent form without visually affecting the shades in the images reproduced. In short the Digital Water marking is modification of the original pixel values. In case of Videos and audio it is embedded in a noise-tolerant signal to uniquely identify its originator.
There are two main type of Digital Water marking techniques available.

Spatial Domain Watermarking

Spatial Domain mostly modifies the image pixels and both merge with each other i.e Watermark image merges with the pixel of the host images.

Frequency Domain Watermarking
As compared to ‘Spatial Domain’ the most widely used technique is ‘Frequency Domain’ which transforms the images into different frequency bands. The ‘Frequency Domain Watermarking’ has three widely accepted techniques namely Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT), Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT), and Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). These three techniques are not explained in detail the subject being electronic in nature and difficult to understand by the printer. There is yet another technique under this category called Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) for protecting digital media copyright. 

Chetna Vide ‘A Monthly Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology’- IJCSMC, Vol. 3, Issue. 9, September 2014, pg.586 – 591 mentions: 

………………. Digital watermarking is a technology for embedding various types of information in digital content. In general, information for protecting copyrights and proving the validity of data is embedded as a watermark. A digital watermark is a digital signal or pattern inserted into digital content. The digital content could be a still image, an audio clip, a video clip, a text document, or some form of digital data that the creator or owner would like to protect. The main purpose of the watermark is to identify who the owner of the digital data is, but it can also identify the intended recipient.

The DCT allows an image to be broken up into different frequency bands, making it much easier to embed watermarking information into the middle frequency bands of an image. It has become easy to connect to the Internet from home computers and obtain or provide various information using the World Wide Web (WWW). All the information handled on the Internet is provided as digital content. Such digital content can be easily copied in a way that makes the new file indistinguishable from the original. Then the content can be reproduced in large quantities. For example, if paper bank notes or stock certificates could be easily copied and used, trust in their authenticity would greatly be reduced, resulting in a big loss. To prevent this, currencies and stock certificates contain watermarks. These watermarks are one of the methods for preventing counterfeit and illegal use. Digital watermarks apply a similar method to digital content. Watermarked content can prove its origin, thereby protecting copyright. A watermark also discourages piracy by silently and psychologically deterring criminals from making illegal copies………….

……………….. Digital watermarking is applicable to any type of digital content, including still images, animation, and audio data. It is easy to embed watermarks in material that has a comparatively high redundancy level ("wasted"), such as color still images, animation, and audio data; however, it is difficult to embed watermarks in material with a low redundancy level, such as black-and-white still images………….

In short

  • The Digital water marking complementary to encryption based technology for prints on paper and has emerged as the strongest digital technology to protect copyright of digital media.
  • It is possible to apply this digitization on most of the information shared on net
  • Out of the four types of marking in Digital Water marking, the Robust water mark can not be easily removed once embedded
  • The second i.e Fragile water mark gets destroyed when some one attempts to tamper them illegally
  • The third is a Visible water mark which is clearly identifiable in an image  
  • The last of them, the Invisible water mark is not visible to naked eye but can be extracted to verify it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Water Mark and its origin

The embedding of Water mark on paper is considered to be one of the strongest security features to protect  the documents from being easily counterfeited or forged. Embedding of Water mark on paper was initially adapted to identify the paper and the sizes and thickness in which they were manufactured by the specific mills. Now they have come handy for use on important security documents to protect those from being counterfeited and the concept has not been disputed over 1000 years even as it has been invented.

The origin of Water marking the sheets traces back to Italy which reportedly adapted the concept of embedding Watermarks on paper sometime in 12th century. According to the historians the first known oldest Water mark paper has been manufactured in the year 1284 in Italy. Some researchers claim the period to be 1289 though everyone is unanimous that the origin has been from Italian paper mill. Perhaps this concept (Water marking) may have been adapted by the paper mills in Italy to identify the paper manufactured by them, something like a registered trade mark to protect their product being misused. The Water marking concept was held secret and not made known to the outer world till 14th century after which it began to slowly spread to other countries via Europe.

What is Water Mark? The Watermark is an image or pattern or text embedded on the surface of the paper either as mono tonal or multi tonal image and they remain translucent but visible and identifiable when viewed against transmitted light. The multi tonal Water mark on paper is considered to be an important security feature.

It is stated that the first set of Water mark resembled somewhat to that of a Cross with few circles. Later set of Water marks were reportedly in the shapes of lines, circles, triangles, knots etc followed by images of human figures, flowers, fruits, animals and other creatures. They were numerous simple drawings adapted as Water mark designs and subsequently developed into mono tonal image i.e varying shades of light and dark, then as multi tonal images where the images graduated from lighter to dark to deep darker areas like graduating grey scale image. Now this has further developed into Water marking with three dimensional images, Pixel images and so on. See below illustrations of some of the Water marks used in earlier era.

Another interesting fact that has come to light is that there have been two different Water marks embedded on the papers produced during 16th century. The researches opine that out of the two marks found on a single sheet of paper, one may have belonged to the mill which had actually manufactured the paper and the second may be to that of the nonexistent proxy mills which got the paper manufactured for them from other mills and sold them as their own product since too many paper mills were not existing in those period of time.

There are references in one of the books titled “Early Venetian Printing” written by Carlo Castellani which mentions:

..... that the papers with embedded water mark have been used in Italy somewhere at the end of 14th century. Everything conduces to the belief that the Venetian printers brought the paper for their books chiefly from the paper mills of Padua or of Treviso. The watermark which is most frequently observed in Venetian books is the balance in its many variations of form both in the scales and in the supports. The bull's head also, with various convolutions of the horns, and with great variety in the figures which are placed between the horns, often occurs. Then too there is the figure of the hat with various interlacing of the cords. Besides these watermarks the book sprinted at Venice show from time to time other figures, such as the imperial crown and the royal crowns, the glove, scissors, ladder, 'standard, shield of arms, castle, crescent, crossbow, strung bow with its arrow, crosses, crossed swords; and the cross; and then, the horse, the bull and other animals. Now all these signs as water-marks are peculiar to the mills of Padua and Treviso. This circumstance added to the fact of the close relations and easy communication between Venice and those cities strengthen the supposition that the Venetian printers brought the paper for their books chiefly from those mills........ 

The following text as found in the site of ‘Confederation of Paper industries’ ( mentions :- 

………. Designs impressed into paper while in course of manufacture by means of a projecting wire, on the mould, or in the case of machine made qualities on the dandy roll. Watermarks were employed as early as 1282. They served to identify the product of each paper mill and the designs chosen (many of them extremely complicated) also expressed emblematically the tenets of the manufacturers, which were handed down traditionally from father to son. It was customary, and the custom has survived until the present day, for paper mills to use similar designs in common. These standard designs were triflingly modified by each individual maker; they have in many cases been the origin of modem terminology, such as Foolscap, Pott, Post and so forth…………… 

The first group of paper Water marked paper made were Azure Laid paper used by financial institutions and Legal fraternity and Cream wove paper used for many other purposes. Laid (Azure laid) paper contained an overall pattern of thin translucent lines or bars laid in columns or paras and the Wove paper contained an overall translucent pattern that resembles woven cloth. This is how those papers got their names.

In nutshell it is reasonable to think that the basic intention of the process of Water marking of the paper may have began for : Identifying the products manufactured by the mills Identify the sizes and thickness in which the papers used may have been manufactured Protect the products from misuse by others to sell the product under their stamping Establish brand quality in the midst of competition Deter forgeries of those important documents, especially those covered by legal aspects. On the broader side the Water mark designs have helped the Researchers in their study in identifying the date and period of texts on paper and the place where they may have been printed while culling historical information since in the earlier era each of the Water marks represented particular mills and also carried the year of manufacture of the papers as each year the mills changed their Water mark designs.

There has been hundreds and thousands of Water mark designs as found to have been used by different mills and vast study has been internationally conducted on the use and importance of Water Marks. Over 16000 Water marks have been reportedly identified by one of the French researcher. An American Paper Trade reference book, 1909, officially adapted by National Paper Trade Association, has listed over 4000 Water marks used by several suppliers in America. In the year 1997 an association named IPH (International Association of Paper Historians) compiled a Water mark Registry consisting of several watermarks and grouped them broadly under seven categories such as Line, Shadow, Shadow combined with Line and Molette. They have been able to list out over 16000 Water marks of several types after researching several books printed in Low countries prior to 1501. 
The above could be explained as under: 
  • Line -(plain dark sketch) Water mark which was plain wire mark formed by the sewn image with metallic wire.
  • Shadow Water mark – light and shade effect which again is made of metallic wire but giving a shadow effect by the side of the plain line work. This could have been achieved by slightly lowering the height of shadow portion wires below the actual image thus lessening the pressure given on the paper to leave freak image.
  • Combined Line / Shadow -too has the Water mark images built in combination as above.
  • Embossed -or Tonal marks that has images impressed on the sewn wire. The depth of tonal effects may have been given by the gradual decrease in depth (height) of surface that touched the paper to produce the tonal effect Water mark.
  • Molette - in a way is similar to embossed or impressed marks, but has more lighter and deeper shades.
A very interesting article on Water mark has appeared in Theosophy, Vol. 53, No. 9, July, 1965 (Pages 262-266; Size: 14K) under the heading Heretics and the renaissance: Part VI –‘The Albigensian paper makers and water marks’ and VII- ‘A new light on the renaissance’.

The information contained in it is worth reading which is reproduced below :

Part VI – The Albigensian paper makers and water marks
………..Watermarks, still commonly used at the present time, originated with the Albigensian paper makers of Southern France and Northern Italy. A study of the various watermarks has yielded some results in tracing the different channels in which the paper trade of different countries flowed. Experience also of the different kinds of paper and a knowledge of the watermarks, aid the student in fixing nearly exact periods of undated documents. (Britannica, 9th ed.) …………….
…………..The first paper marks or watermarks appeared in Italy about the year 1270, and while these originals were artless in design, the emblems were so mystic in character that it is reasonable to believe that they were meant to convey a meaning or signal among the workers who fashioned them. It has been suggested that these old devices may have been used solely as marks of identification for sizes of moulds and the paper formed thereon, or, as they are used today, simply as trademarks of the paper makers. Other writers have advanced the theory that they may have been employed in a purely symbolic sense, as Mr. Harold Bayley sets forth in his books dealing with the semeiotic significance of the old paper makers' and printers' marks and emblems. According to Mr. Bayley, the watermarks of the Middle Ages were employed by the heretical paper makers as symbols of religious propaganda. Mr. Bayley attaches symbolic importance to each of the old watermarks and believes that these fantastic emblems embodied a hidden meaning understood only by the people of medieval times. This explanation of their use seems more probable than to try to account for the myriad watermark designs as symbols for the identification of paper sizes, or as trademarks of the makers of paper. (p. 26.)………………..

VII- A new light on the renaissance
…………….. The twelve chapters of Mr. Bayley's book, containing over 400 reproductions of watermarks, are headed as follows: "Paper making and The Albigenses," "Religious Emblems," "Emblems of The Deity," "Emblems of Persecution and Preaching," "Romaunt Emblems," "The Philosopher's Gold," "The Kabbalah," "The Inventing of Printing," "Printers' Devices," "The Transference of Woodblocks," "Tricks of Obscurity" and "The Renaissance." These are followed by a "Conclusion" covering eighteen pages, and 29 pages of "Notes and References" constituting an extensive bibliography, not only on the subject of watermarks, but also on Symbolism, Heresies, Secret Societies, Inquisition, Reformation, Renaissance, and many more, including several references to H. P. Blavatsky……………………..
:- Unquote

Water mark remains both as visible and invisible image. The modern era Watermark is an important security feature on paper used for printing the Postal stamps, Currencies or Bank notes, and other important government financial instruments to deter counterfeiting. It is stated that though the first set of Water Mark papers have been manufactured in the 13th century in Europe, specially in that of Italy where the first group of paper mills have been reportedly set up in early 12th century, the first set of handmade mould Water mark paper for use on Currencies has been reportedly introduced in the year 1725 in England when in 17th and 18th centuries many paper mills across England began to practice use of certain Water mark symbols on the papers manufactured by them.

The visible Water mark may appear as some kind of a weak print merged with the shade of the paper in which they may have been embedded. The lighter and darker shades of the Watermark are caused by the lesser and more pressure of the Water mark mould leading to that much proportional deposit of fiber in those areas embedded. 

The invisible Watermark which is also translucent image or pattern embedded in similar fashion as above, but with some design elements over printed in those areas to hide the Water mark. The examples could be Water mark on Bank Notes and Currencies, Postal stamps, paper used for printing ID cards etc wherein certain image of the Water mark remains visible to naked eye in non printed area while part of the Water mark remain hidden under the designs printed.

How is the Water mark formed ? The oldest form of watermarks is referred to as wire watermarks since they were generated by bending pieces of wire into required designs by tying them onto the mesh of the paper moulds which was then impressed over the semi wet paper travelling on wire mesh. The darker and lighter shades of the Water mark image is represented in the form of raised and depressed areas on the fine-mesh brass-wire fabric attached to the dandy roll's circumference to generate the Water mark during paper making process. The formation of the image on the wire mesh is ticklish and cumbersome process even involving certain amount of hand engraving technique to form lighter and darker shades. The Water marks produced by the images carved out on the fine-mesh brass-wire fabric will not be as clear and sharper as produced in cylinder mould process. One of the reasons for the slightly imperfect Water mark generated by the Dandy roller process could be due to tying of the mould screen with wires which will have feeble dots even after welding them, hence the edges leave unsharp images. Therefore the modern mills began the use of Water mark engraved cylinder (mould) which was able to produce much cleaner images with high tonal values unlike the rugged Water mark images produced by the Dandy roller. 

The Water mark is formed by two different processes. One is called the Dandy roll process, and the other is Cylinder mould process. Even today many mills around the world continue to use the Dandy roll process for Water marking because they are cheaper and meet the purposes of protecting and identifying their products. However the Cylinder mould process is preferred mainly by those who are engaged in the art of printing high value security documents of several nature including Currencies and Bank Notes as Water mark is an important security feature as suggested and admitted by the International Intelligent agencies such as Interpol.

During paper manufacturing process, the wet pulp filled with fibers is spread over a long wire mesh which travel on the wire mesh in the form of a sheet and shed the excess water from their body through the wire mesh before getting dried further travelling through several series of rollers. When the semi wet paper travel on wire mesh screen the Dandy roller fastened with Water mark design from above press the semi wet layer of paper against the wire mesh like rubber stamping process and wherever they press, the fibers on those areas gets thinner and compressed according to the degree of relief on the areas of the image. This process forms the image over the thin layer of semi wet paper which when dried will show the Water mark in the form of an translucent image. However during the stamping process the Dandy roller does not completely remove the fibers from those image areas, lest the paper will have only holes in those areas pressed. During the process of pressing, the fibers get deposited in different densities and vary the thickness of the paper in those areas pressed to show the images of varying shade. The thick and thin deposit of fibers shows the multi tone Watermark effect.

Initially a flat surfaced Dandy was used. However as the Mills began to produce continuous reels of paper the cylindrical Dandy roller was put to use for rotating against the travelling layer of semi wet paper and to impress the images at regular intervals as preset.

Though the researchers claim that the invention of the so-called, Dandy roller is actually attributable to one John Marshall, of T.J. Marshall (name of the firm) of London, who established his own mill in the year 1792, he reportedly failed to apply for the patent and therefore the patent had been taken over by some other people in Europe itself - one for the process of leaving an Watermark impression by cylindrical body and other for the invention of Dandy roller.

The use of Cylinder mould Water marking perhaps began in the year 1848 where in instead of covering the cylinder with brass wire fabric containing the Water mark image, the cylinder body itself was prepared in a different fashion welded by a wire mesh embossed with the Watermark design reflecting tonal depth of varying shades of a grey scale.

The introduction of cylinder mould made it possible to engrave the images or patterns of different shades with much clarity. The resulting Watermark was also much clearer, sharper and more detailed than those made by the Dandy Roll process. This paved the way for the production of Cylinder Mould Watermark Paper for Currencies, Banknotes, Passports, and other Security documents of high value as the Water mark still remains an important anti-counterfeiting feature.

The light and shaded tonal effect Water mark was also produced by a process called Electrolytic process which is nothing but basically an offshoot of electroplating process. The Water mark produced on paper deploying this process for making Water mark mould was called Electrolytic Water marks and were used for many years by some countries for printing Currencies. The desired Water mark image is first carved out on a wax plate, which after treated with some chemical process enabled two image dies (plates)- male and female to be prepared by electrolytic process. A specially prepared finely sewn wire mesh was kept in between the male-female dies and pressed to get the Water mark image over the fine wire mesh. The pressed wire mesh will reflect the darker and lighter tonal values by the degree of relief on the male female dies. The tonal values represented in the form of proportional relief over the Water mark image of the wire mesh was technically called Bas relief. The wire mesh was attached on the Dandy roller for creating the Water mark images on paper.

While the paper making machine was invented in the year 1798 in place of paper made by hand made process the first automatic paper making machine that used the Dandy roller Water marking process is reported to be Fourdrinier machine in 18th century in Europe.

The Watermarks vary in visibility and appearance to some extent when different mills produce the same Water mark in view of the machineries and processes deployed by them even though the basic raw material is same and the approved drawing is given for generating the Water mark. Since there appears to be no measured values for each and every lines or shades of the Water mark produced and suitable instruments to test them, the overall resultant image could only be matched as closely as possible with that of the golden image of the Water mark proof stored in the computers to authenticate the genuineness of the Water mark image produced on the paper. This limitation is because of the inability to maintain absolutely uniform fiber length in the pulp that forms the paper and leaves thick and thin deposits to match the shades of the Water mark images.

Few well known paper mills who have expertise in the art of paper making and whose paper supplies are used by several countries for the production of Bank Notes and Currencies have come out with new series of Water marks invented by them which not only enhanced the clarity of the Water marks produced, but also makes the counterfeiting more and more difficult. The following information in this regard is available from the sites of those two well known expert paper manufacturers – Giesecke & Devrient of Germany and Arjowiggons of France both paper mills of repute around the world.

Out of two important Water marks - High Light Water mark and Pixel Water mark- Giesecke & Devrient mentions that:

………HighLight watermarks security features are very effective for portraying the numbers or the value of a banknote denomination. When held against the light, numbers or characters appear as accentuated elements within the watermark design. HighLight watermark are created during paper making by reducing paper thickness to produce very light areas that increase the visibility of particular design elements….
…………..Pixel watermark security features offer new possibilities for developing eye-catching watermark designs that are secure against counterfeiting. The highly contrasting bright three-dimensional effect that is visible when held against the light is very easily authenticated by the public. Pixel watermarks are created during paper making by varying the thickness of the paper to produce patterns of dark pixel dots on a lighter background. Due to the complexity of their creation, Pixel watermarks are extremely difficult to counterfeit, resulting in only poor quality print copies of watermarks…………

Arjowiggons, French the second paper mill site mentions that :

The Pixel watermark is made up of a pattern or array of dark dots on a light background that creates a three-dimensional effect and provides a high level contrast with the background……….
……… The Pixel Watermark is formed by dots of various sizes and shapes on a light background that create a unique design ……… .
……… The high-contrast background provided by the Pixel Watermark enhances the visibility of the multi-tone Watermark ……….
………… The remarkable brightness of the Pixel watermark and the high level of detail and contrast are very difficult to reproduce …………
………….. The Vision watermark, our latest development in watermark technology, offers higher definition and better image recognition. In accordance with the trend in banknote design for more realism, the Vision watermark carries more detail than the traditional multi-tone watermark, getting closer to the original image. It can be combined with the multi-tone, Pixel and electrotype watermarks for enhanced banknote protection ………….


Originally the Water mark image was embedded on paper as security feature during paper marking process using dandy rolls or engraved metal blocks and the extent of clarity and shades were improved by changing the thickness of the paper. However as the technology improved the digital Water marking feature came to be adapted to protect the printed images. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

India's Burma Currencies

India’s Burma
Currency Notes
Written by: N.R. Jayaraman

: Pre Script :

Recently I was approached by a Bank Official, Mr. Taut kwat of Myanmar seeking certain clarification on India’s Currencies used in Burma. He wrote:

“…….I live in Yangon, Myanmar. I am working at Myanmar Apex Bank (MAB) as Assistance Manager. In my work, I am in touch with money every day. I am interesting about old paper money that used in Myanmar and I want to learn. There is no Myanmar author/writer who writes about old paper money of Myanmar. So I want to write about these. But I have no old banknotes and not enough money to buy it. All I only do is to learn, to find the data and to ask questions to professional. This is the reason for query…………..”

  • Were Victoria Portrait Series Banknotes (1861-66) used in Burma after the British occupation of Burma? 
  • Were the Re1 Notes (King V) used in Burma?  
  • I cannot find about Green Unifaced 20 and 50 Rupees Banknotes for Rangoon Circle. Could you explain me about that with full of details? Or could you indicate the websites which include about it? 
  • Were King George V High Denomination Origin Notes (without Legal Tender Text) used in Burma?” 
    Therefore in response to his request I decided to write an article on 'India’s Burma Currency Notes' which covers most of his doubts and at the same time the article will also be useful to the students community as well. In compiling this article I took some inputs from my own project which I had compiled several years ago while I was  in service, when out of my own interest I compiled the 'History of World Currencies' along with various Currencies used at various points of time in the known history of Currencies and Bank Notes. The maiden adventure turned out to be a welcome success though the project took several months before I could complete as many of the websites from whom I took some inputs were covered by patents and copy right acts. Therefore it became necessary for me to first obtain permission from the authors of those Websites to use some of the material and photographs from their sites. Also the contents could not be copied as such and needed to be edited, recast to compile the history in short manner. Though an arduous process, I completed the same in patience successfully as it was educative in nature. I felt that the subject would be not only an informative and educative in nature, but will remain valuable reference document to those working in the Currency/Bank Note  Note Presses since the same was not available in a single source. Therefore with such thought  in mind after I compiled the personal project sans commercial interest of any nature, I donated the personal project to Bank Note Press, Dewas from where I retired in the next few months. That was the best personal contribution that I made in my personal level to an organization in which I had served over 33 years. Since it became a open document of educative in nature I took permission from the authors to use some of the information and images from their work for the project.

    The authors from whom I took permission were Mr. Peter Symes who is a publisher of World paper Money and has several articles to his credit on Currencies, Bank Notes and Stamps, Shri Tom Chai, an ex electronics Engineer at U.S and a Gold award winner for his Web site on Money Gallery, and Shri Anurag Vaishney, senior software engineer of Noida. All of them readily accorded their kind permission through E-Mail to use their web collections for my project.

    The present article too is widely based on inputs from my original project and also meant for educating larger community and published without any  commercial interest of any nature, I wish to once again thank the same authors and give due credits to them, wherever they are now,  for having given consent several years ago to use some inputs from their sites. Also due credits and thanks to some of the websites from where the illustrations of currencies have been taken and collaged for explaining the contents. PLEASE NOTE THAT NONE OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE SHOULD BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSE OF ANY SORT AS IT IS MEANT ONLY FOR EDUCATIVE PURPOSE TO ENHANCE THE KNOWLEDGE.
    N.R. Jayaraman

    Indian Currencies  
    used  in  Burma
    In the history of Indian Currencies, the Paper money transaction traces its origins to the late 18th Century when the issue of Paper Money as Currencies began. As some kind of Paper money was put to circulation in India by private banks in those period of time under East India Company and British rule, some of the Indian Currencies were also used by other countries with some imprint to indicate that they were usable as money in those regions where they were issued.

    When the Paper money was introduced they were referred to in different names such as Bills of exchange, Paper Money, Notes etc, even though all of them represented real money or Currencies for exchange. For better understanding of the topic the paper money used in different names are generally referred to as Currencies in this article.

    Few banks which first began issuing the Paper Money were the 'Bank of Hindostan' which existed during 1770 to 1832 , the 'General Bank' in Bengal and Behar (which is now Bihar) which existed during 1773-75 and the 'Bengal Bank' which existed during 1784-91.
    Paper Money or Currencies in general came to enjoy wider acceptance by traders after the establishment of few Semi-Government banks like 'Bank of Bengal' in the year 1806, the 'Bank of Bombay' in 1840 and the 'Bank of Madras' in the year 1843. However the acceptance was restricted to very small class of privileged users in the business sector.

    During East India Company rule in India, two private Banks in the name of 'Commercial Bank' and 'Union Bank' came up in the then Bengal Province in the first half of 18th century and they too began issue of Paper Money in the form of bills of exchange or some kind of financial instruments for transacting the business. Later some years, two more Banks in the name of 'Bank of Western India' in the then Bombay Presidency and 'Asiatic Bank' in the then Madras Presidency also emerged. Noticing the profits of the banking business, in the later part of 18th Century, the East India Company entered into the Banking business by establishing three 'Presidency Banks' in the then Madras, Bombay and Bengal Presidencies. This development further led to the circulation of money in the form of paper. From then on, slowly money began to be circulated in the form of Paper Money both by the Private banks and the banks under East India Company. Perhaps those financial instruments on paper represented the real money and paved way for the emergence of Paper Currencies or Bank Notes as issued and circulated in India much later. However since the financial instruments that represented the real money were only issued by the individual banks in their personal capacity, their use and circulation were limited within the trading community who continued to exchange them for money based on mutual trust. There were no appreciable security or design features on those Paper Money and most of them were very simple in design aspect and printed on hand made paper.

    Amongst the three Presidency Banks established by the East India Company, only 'Bank of Bengal' was authorized to issue the financial instrument on paper then known as Notes or Paper Money and were used for payment of Public revenues and other limited transactions of the establishment. The trend continued till 1860 when one of the Finance members of the Establishment (govt) mooted the idea of authorized legal Paper Money to be issued and guaranteed by the state itself from a single window superseding the issue of
    Paper Money by different Banks in their individual capacity. This resulted into enacting the Paper money act in the year 1861.

    The Paper Money Act of 1861 conferred upon the Government of India the monopoly of issuing the Currencies and prohibiting the Private and Presidency Banks from issuing Paper money in any form. The Paper Money Act 1861, also authorized the Presidency Banks which had been earlier established by the East India Company, to enter into agreements with the Secretary of State of the Govt for becoming the agents of the state for the issue, payment and exchange of Paper money.

    In this direction some Currency issuing circles were also created. There were only three Currency issuing circles operating initially. In the year 1862, the Government increased the Currency issuing circles by opening new circle in Calcutta in addition to the already existing circles in Madras, Bombay and Bengal. Since operating, managing and coordinating the issue of Currencies with the agent Presidency banks  increasingly becoming difficult, the Govt began terminating the agency services of the Presidency Banks and prohibited them from issuing and circulating the Currencies. In the year 1865 the services of Bengal Bank was suspended followed by the termination of services of Bombay and Madras circles in the year 1867. After terminating the agency services of the Presidency Banks, the management of the Paper Currency was entrusted to the Mint (Coins producing unit) Master of Calcutta  by designating him as Head Commissioner for Issue of Currencies.

    After centralizing the Currency issuing authority, Currency issuing circles were also increased by opening new issue circles in Kanpur, Rangoon and Karachi in addition to already functioning circles in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. With the emergence of more Currency circles and clamor for Paper Money increased, the magnitude of Currency circulation too increased both in terms of value and volume. Therefore the management of paper Currency was again taken away from the Mint master and entrusted to the Controller of Currency, an independent authority  created to manage the entire Currency affairs. The Currencies were universalized and became legally encashable across the country whichever were under the control of the then British Government of India.

    Paper Currency was managed by the Government of India till 1934 when the Reserve Bank of India was established as the Central Bank of the country to manage entire Currency affairs even as British Govt was ruling the country. Once RBI was established through an act, it took over the function of Currency issue from the Office of the Controller of Currency. Currencies issued by the Reserve Bank of India became legal tender, encashable at any place in India for payment and the value indicated on the Currencies remained guaranteed by the Government.

    A Currency is generally considered as a type of negotiable instrument known as a promissory note and is issued by an authorised bank of a country. The amount indicated in the same are payable to the bearer on demand as every Currency is incorporated with promising clause assuring to pay the specific sum indicated in each Currency. For this purpose each Currency also carry the signature of the authorised person on the same Currencies. This is the main principle of the Paper Money.

    It is interesting to note that in the midst of all the developments as mentioned above and even before the formation of RBI the Indian Currency were in use as the official Currency in several other neighboring countries that were under the British rulers and governed from India, and one such country was Burma besides Pakistan, East Africa, Southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf. After Burma was annexed by the Britishers and kept as one of the provinces in Indian territory, they had put into circulation the very same Indian Currencies used in India but printed with imprint ‘for use in Burma’ or 'Legal Tender in Burma'. Being adjacent to Bengal, for administrative convenience and financial activities, the Britishers kept Burma under the Presidency of the then Bengal which is now known as West Bengal. Therefore the Indian Currencies in circulation then in India were also used by the Britishers as Currencies for Burma with imprint mentioned above. 

    It is not true that the Indian Currencies were used in Burma only after the formation of RBI, but the Indian Currencies were in circulation in Burma right from the year 1824 onwards even under different rulers since Burma was treated as one of the provinces of India. As explained earlier, prior to 1862 when the Paper Money had been issued by the 'Presidency Banks' of Bengal, Bombay and Madras, in order to widen the concept  of use of Paper Money to other areas, the 'Presidency Bank of Bengal' opened branches in Rangoon in the year 1861 and circulated Indian Paper Money through the Rangoon branch. The 'Chartered Bank of India', too had branches at Rangoon in 1862-63. 

    Thereafter in around 1882 or so an issue circle was created in the city of Rangoon in Burma and Indian Currencies issued by Govt of India were put to circulation in Burma through Rangoon circle. The concept of ‘Issuing Circles’ was adapted for the smooth running of the system. The entire geographical areas of the country was divided into areas called circles and Currencies were printed for each circle. Local languages were added in the Language Panel of the Currencies besides indicating the name of the circle which issued the said series of Currencies. Each of the circles had multiple sub-circles under them. Initially, the Currencies issued in a particular circle were not authorized to be circulated for use in another circle, and their encashment was possible only within that circle or a sub-circle office under the one which issued it.

    When the Paper currencies of India were introduced in Burma they were over printed with an imprint mentioning 'Legal tender in Burma only'. The  Japanese occupation and
    subsequent liberation of Burma during World War II saw Burma administered by the Military Regime for short period of time. After stabilizing the affairs of the state, the Military Regime handed over the administration to Civilian rule in the year 1946 and the Civil administration constituted 'Burma Currency Board' to manage the affairs of the issue and circulation of the Currencies for carrying out the financial activities.

    After Burma was liberated from brief occupation of Japanese forces, when it was placed under a military administration Indian Currencies in the value of Rs 5/-, Rs 10/- and Rs 100/- denominations were put to circulation for use by the Military Regime in Burma. The Currencies bore imprint in Red color - ‘Military administration of Burma, Legal tender in Burma only’. Some of those notes had the signature of Governor C.E. Jones and C.D.Deshmukh. Those meant for civilians were overprinted with imprint 'Legal tender in Burma only', and those issued for Military Regime were imprinted as 'Military Administration of Burma-Legal tender in Burma only' indirectly implying that such imprinted Currencies cannot be used in India. After the formation of Reserve Bank of India, and even after the formation of Burma Currency board under Civilian rule, the Reserve Bank of India continued to issue Indian Currencies for use in Burma with imprint reading 'Burma Currency Board- Legal Tender in Burma only'. This was done to safeguard and strengthen the financial activities in Burma and to curb illegal transactions.

    In terms of value, Currencies used in Burma remained at par with the Indian rupee. In the year 1935 when the Government of India Act came into force, the financial affairs of Burma were still continued to be managed by the British Indian Government. This facilitated the Central Monetary Authority of British India to issue Currencies on behalf of Burma for use there. After the formation of newly established Reserve Bank of India, it could not issue separate Currencies for Burma but instead put to circulation till 1938 the then Indian Currencies with some imprint indicating their legal use in Burma.

    No paper money was issued by Burma till 1937 and only Indian Currencies with imprint 'Legal tender in Burma only' were used under the British Empire. However even before Burma was separated from India in the year 1938, the Reserve Bank of India took the responsibility of issuing the Currencies under a treaty called Burma Monetary Arrangements Order, 1937. As per the treaty, RBI would continue to issue Burma Paper Money which were legal tender in Burma, but not legal tender in India.
    After the restoration of a Civil Govt in the year 1946, the financial administration was given to a Governmental body named ‘Burma Currency Board’ which too deployed the Indian Currency over printed with imprint ‘Burma Currency Board / Legal Tender in Burma Only’. An interim act enacted by the British Govt facilitated the continued use of Government of India Currencies in Burma with the Portrait of King George V on various denominations such as Rs 5/-, Rs 10/- and Rs 100/- carrying an imprint ‘Legal Tender in Burma Only’ till such time the Burmese Govt could began to print the Currencies of their own. Most of them carried the signature of Governor J.W. Kelley on behalf of the Govt. 

    The Burma State Bank issued notes of 1/-, 5/-, 10/- and 100/- kyat notes in 1944, followed by another set of issues of 100/- kyat note in 1945. The name of the Currency ‘Rupees’ was replaced with ‘Kyat’. In the year 1946 the Government of Burma constituted a Committee to formally design their own Currencies and coins and when the task was successfully completed, the Burmese Govt in the year 1947 formally terminated the treaty with RBI on the issue of managing the affairs of the Currencies for Burma and began issuing their own Currencies got printed elsewhere. However the Burma Currency Board, which had taken over from RBI in 1946, again used the same set of Re 1/-, Rs 5/-, Rs 10/- and Rs 100/- Indian Currencies overprinted with ‘Burma Currency Board / Legal Tender in Burma Only’ till such time their own Currencies were released. The Indian Currencies over printed with imprint were supposed to be circulated within Burma only, but a few found them back to India and people tried to wash them to remove the overprint and use them. Such Currencies were defaced and stamped with ‘Burma Notes / Payment Refused’

    After Burma gained complete independence in the year 1948, the title of the Currency issuer had changed to ‘Government of Burma’. Only Re 1/- and Rs 5/- Currencies were issued under that name. In 1949, the name of issuer of the Currency was changed to ‘Government of the Union of Burma’. Only Rs10/- and Rs 100/- Currencies were introduced under issuer’s name.

    However in order to streamline the circulation of Currencies in Burma, as an interim measure some of the Indian Currencies in denominations of Rs 5/-, Rs 10/- and Rs 100/- were got printed from the security press in India itself, overprinted with an imprint 'Burma Currency Board, legal tender in Burma only’ and put them to circulation for provisional use from the year 1947 till 1952 when Indian Currencies used in Burma was totally demonetized. In 1952, ‘Union Bank of Burma’ took the responsibility of issuing the Currencies. Re1/-, Rs 5/-, Rs 10/- and Rs 100/- denomination Currencies were issued. replacing the word ‘Rupees’ with ‘Kyat’ but the designs did not change. In 1958, the Peacock image from those Currency was replaced with Aung San, and the new 20 and 50 kyats Currencies were introduced. 

    Different  denominations  of   Indian

    Currencies  used  in  Burma:

    • Reserve Bank of India Currencies over printed with imprint ‘Legal Tender in Burma only’ were issued for denominations Rs 5/-, Rs 10/-, Rs 100/-, Rs 1000/- & Rs 10000/-. 
    • Reserve Bank of India Currencies over printed with imprint ‘Military Administration of Burma- Legal Tender in Burma only’ were issued for denominations Re 1/-, Rs 5/-, Rs 10/-, Rs 100/-. 
    • Government of India Currencies over printed with imprint ‘Currency Board of Burma’ were issued for denominations Re 1/-, Rs 5/-, Rs 10/-, Rs 100/-. 
    Though different types of Indian Currencies were used in Burma in different periods of time the security features in them were meager unlike the present day Currencies which are flooded with several security features to make them difficult to forge. The different series of Currencies for Burma issued in various periods are grouped as below:- 

    Green Under Print Series:

    The Unifaced ‘Under print Series’ (print on print) currencies were introduced in the year 1867. The Green Under print Series Currencies had security feature such as a Green under print denoting the denomination, guilloche patterns as design elements over printed on them. The said Currencies had some sort of watermark too and the quality of hand made paper used for printing them were better. The inbuilt watermark incorporated a code that indicated the year and date of manufacture of the paper. Initially those currencies were meant to be circulated only in the Currency Circle in which they were issued.

    Between 1904 to 1909 Rs 5/- denomination currencies were issued with green under print carrying the signatures of F. Atkinson and H. J. Brereton. Between 1897 till 1907 Rs 10/- denomination currencies with the signatures of R.E. Hamilton and Williams Wells were issued. Rs 50/- denomination currencies were issued in the year 1901 to 1910 from Rangoon. Rs 100/- denomination is reportedly issued in the year 1918 and signed by A.C. McWattersn H. Denning and M. M. S. Gubbay . However details on the the quantity of currencies issued are not known.

    The significant design features of those Currencies were inclusion of Burmese and Chinese languages along with Hindi and Urdu languages while displaying the numeral value of the currencies in words. The numeral value was found printed in bold numeral in centre of the currencies in green colour. Hence those Currencies were called Green Under print currencies and they carried the date, month and year of issue besides the place of issue circle in a single alphabet.

    Red Under Print Series:

    Later when it was realized that paper money was becoming more popular and the rigidity that they could be used only within the circle in which they were issued was relaxed to enable encashment of those Currencies in all areas under the control of the Govt. The major design change incorporated in those Currencies was promissory clause that read ‘promise to pay the bearer at any office of issue’. The Green colour under print was changed to Red colour under print. While the Green under print currencies the value of the currency was shown in four languages, The Red colour under print series Currencies displayed the value in eight languages such as Urdu, Kaithi, Bengali, Burmese, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Gujarati. The reason for the omission of Chinese language is not known. With forgery /counterfeit problem effectively checked by the fresh issue of Red Under print series, when more and more people began to use paper currencies, those travelling in various parts of the country were faced with the problem of use of the paper Currencies beyond the circles from where they were issued. In order to solve this problem, the Government introduced Red under print Currencies with additional features which could be used anywhere in the country under the then Govt. The Red under print Currencies thus paved way for wider use of Paper Money in any part of the country. Between 1903 and 1911, Currencies in denominations of Rs 5/-, Rs 10/-, Rs 50/- and Rs 100/- were issued and permitted to be legally encashable outside the Currency Circle of Issue. However, the names of the issuing circles were retained in those notes either in full form or by way of single alphabet . This series remained largely unchanged till the introduction of the 'King’s Portrait' series which commenced in 1923.

    Between 1908 to 1918 Rs 5/- denomination Currency was issued with Red Under print with the signatures of R. W. Gillan. Between 1912 till 1918 Currency in Rs 10/- denomination with the signatures of M. M S. Gubbay, R. W. Gillen, H. F. Howard were issued. While the denomination of Rs 5/- contained the value of the Currency in eight languages, in respect of Rs 10/- denomination English was added to denote the value. Rs 50/- denomination Currency was issued in the year 1901 to 1910 from Rangoon. Rs 100/- denomination is reportedly issued in the year 1918 and signed by A.C. McWattersn H. Denning and M. M. S. Gubbay. However details on the the quantity of Currencies issued could not be gathered.

    Victoria Portrait Series :

    The Currency notes with the portrait of Queen has been issued by Government of India in 18th century. The said Currencies had two language panels, water mark, very light designs and printed on hand made paper. Much later, some time before issue of King George V series Currencies with Victoria portrait   in denominations of Rs 10/-, Rs 20/-, Rs 50/-, Rs 100/-, Rs 500/- and Rs 1000/- have been issued by the Govt of India. It is not clear to the author whether the Victoria series Indian Currencies have been used by Burma.

    King George V Notes : 

    The Uni face series notes were always forgery prone and hence new designs were being frequently made. During the period of 1917 to 1932, notes with the portrait of George V were issued. The notes bearing the portrait of George V have the signatures of M.M.S. Gubbay, A.C. McWatters, H. Denning, J.B. Taylor and J.W. Kelly.  Indian Currencies in denominations of Re 1/-, Rs 5/-, Rs 10/-, Rs 50/-, Rs 100/-, Rs 1000/- and Rs 10000/- with the Portrait of  King George V