HISTORY OF PAPER CURRENCY IN THE SEYCHELLES .Central Bank of Seychelles: Victoria, 2006(53 pp.)
The booklet traces the history of the currencies in use in Seychelles from the French period (1770 to 1814) through the British period (1815 to 1976) the First Republic (1976), the Second Republic (1977 to 1993) to the current Third Republic.
During the French period, the currency in use was predominantly metal coins they were made in the name of Louis XVI (Louis d’or, demi-Louis d’or, Louis d’argent or Ecu, quart-Ecu, and demi-Ecu).
The main monetary transactions were carried out in the Livre Tournois, made out of silver which was later replaced by the Franc Germinal.
At the beginning of the British rule the main paper currencies were the Mauritian dollars ,rupees or pounds though coins from the French period such as the Piastre Decaen were still in circulation.
On 1 January 1826 the sterling monetary system was introduced as in the other colonies of the East Africa region. The unit of the currency was the “shilling”.
As Seychelles was administered from Mauritius, with the opening of the Mauritius Commercial Bank in 1838 the same currency was in circulation as in Mauritius. This included the dollar notes, the pound, the rupee….
Though Seychelles became a “Crown Colony” in 1903, being directly administered from Britain, the Mauritian currency still remained in use up to 1919. On August 11, 1914, however, the Governor had been forced to print an emergency issue of five rupees (R5) and ten rupees (R10) under ‘The Paper Currency Ordinance of 1914”.
The Seychelles Coinage Ordinance of 1939 saw the first silver coins of one rupee and copper-nickel coins of 50 cents, 25 cents and 10 cents. During the Second World War there were no less than twenty nine (29) foreign currencies in circulation in the colony to overcome the local currency shortage.
Between 1947 and 1970 there was an intense debate on the adoption of the “shilling” as the unit of the currency instead of the rupee and the matter was finally shelved in 1970.
Seychelles issued its first set of complete paper currency in 1968 with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth 11 replacing all existing notes.
The fifty rupee note of 1968 became a collector’s item with the word “SEX” spelled by the palm fronds!
With the independence of Seychelles on June 29, 1976 there was a new set of notes and coins with the effigy of the former President James Richard Man-Cham replacing that of the British Queen. Those remained in circulation after the coup d’état of 5 June,1977 until a new set of coins with the Armorial Bearing of the Republic replacing the President’s effigy was issued on May 9.1978.
The Seychelles Monetary Authority which took over the management of the currency in 1978(1 December) decided to adopt in 1979(February) the letters “SR” for identifying the rupee. As the Central Bank of Seychelles replaced the Monetary Authority in 1983 all the legal tender notes carried its name.
The “bank note mystery” tells the story of the country’s original R100 banknote of November 1979.It was withdrawn from circulation on February 25, 1980 and demonetized since a second consignment of notes worth 4.5 million pounds sterling went missing after the Greek freighter carrying it sank. Some notes reappeared fifteen years later, in 1994, believed to have been washed ashore and also caught in the fishermen’s nets off the coast of Dorset in England!