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WOW! Here's how much these rare century-old Rs 10 notes will cost today

These currency notes are over a century old and were recovered from the wreckage of a ship going from Bombay to London in 1918 at the end of World War I. The SS Shirala was taken down by a German submarine, but continues to make headlines even after 106 years!

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: May 29, 2024 14:55 IST
The 1918-marked Indian Rs 10 currency note, which will go
Image Source : NOONANS MAYFAIR (X) The 1918-marked Indian Rs 10 currency note, which will go for auction on Wednesday.

In the competitive global markets today, old currency notes seem to be getting more valuable. However, in an astonishing development, a London auction is set to offer two rare old Rs 10 notes which can cost up to over Rs 4 lakh! How did this happen? That is because these notes were salvaged from the early 20th-century ship that sank at the end of World War I.

The two 10-rupee banknotes were recovered from the wreck of the SS Shirala, which was sunk by a German U-boat on July 2, 1918, and bear the date of 25 May 1918 on them. “Whole blocks of these notes, along with lots of provisions ranging from marmalade to ammunition, were on their way to Bombay from London when the boat was sunk by a German U-Boat,” said Thomasina Smith, Worldwide Head of Numismatics at Noonans.

The expert says she has never seen notes like these before and that they only came to light after the Bank of England mentioned the 1918 shipwreck on social media. “These are in very good condition – they must have been in the middle of a tightly bound bundle, so didn’t make contact with the sea. It’s also wonderful that they bear consecutive serial numbers,” she said.

The origin of these notes


According to a report by the Times of India, the British ship 'SS Shirala', which was launched in August 1901, set out on its last journey to Bombay in 1918 and was carrying precious cargo like wine, marmalade and biscuits. On that fateful day, this ship was also carrying new unsigned currency notes of Rs 5 and Rs 10 denominations.

It feels pertinent to remind you, just in case, that the value of Rs 5 and Rs 10 in 1918 was not the same as they are today, which can only get you a packet of chips at best. At that time, the value of a single rupee was several times more than a single rupee today. The Re 1 note had been introduced very recently in November 1917, until which Rs 5 had been the smallest denomination for notes in India.

These unsigned notes were supposed to become legal tender only after receiving the signatures of officials at the Indian Currency Office. In an unfortunate turn of events, the ship was torpedoed in the English Channel by the dreaded German submarine UB-57, commanded by Oberleutnant Johannes Lohs. However, the Shirala continues to make headlines even after 106 years of its destruction.

Some currency notes were saved

However, some of the notes were saved and made their appearance at the Currency Office, as reported by The Pioneer Mail of Allahabad in 1920. Some of the notes, including these two, were seen floating away from the shipwreck. Smith said some of these old notes were recovered and subsequently destroyed by the authorities and new ones were printed to replace them, however a very few examples remained in private hand

These two currency notes will go for auction at the British house Noonans Mayfair on Wednesday. These two Rs 10 notes could fetch up to 2,600 euros each, which equals Rs 2.7 lakh for a single Rs 10 note. Meanwhile, the wreckage of Shirala has become somewhat a treat for divers, and it is believed that it still holds wine cases, marmalade jars and spares for vehicles.

Another highlight auction is a rare Government of India, under British colonial administration at the time, 100-rupee note which is estimated to fetch between 4,400 and 5,000 euros (Rs 4.51 lakh). It is signed and stamped from Calcutta and dated between 1917 and 1930. The reverse has 100 rupees spelt out in different Indian languages, including Hindi and Bengali. A “Reserve Bank of India, Persian Gulf Issue,” 5-rupee note featuring the iconic Ashoka emblem and dated 1957-62 is also set to go under the hammer next week for an estimated 2,200 to 2,800 euros (Rs 2.5 lakh).



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