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The mohur is a gold coin that was struck by several governments including British India. The word ‘mohur’ or ‘mohor’ comes from the Persian word ‘muhr’ which means “seal” and is related to the Sanskrit word “mudra” which also means “seal”. The gold mohurs issued by the Moghul Empire, the British East India Company or the British Crown are valuable collector’s items. They were used in Mauritius in many transactions. A mohur was usually equivalent to fifteen silver rupees.

 

The Fanam (or ‘panam’ in Tamil language) was a small coin in either silver or gold issued by the Madras Presidency until 1815. It circulated alongside the Indian rupee. The most famous fanam was the ‘Gold Pagoda’ which was worth 42 fanams. The fanam was phased out after 1815 to make way for the rupee coin which was worth 12 fanams.

 

The Schoenfeld coin is one of those extremely rare remnants of the domain currency system that existed in Mauritius. This coin was in circulation only on the Schoenfeld sugar estate. The domain currency was essentially a geographically localised money that could be used solely within the boundaries of a particular estate and nowhere else. Thus, indentured workers, unable to use this means of payment outside the estate where they worked, were forced to spending everything on the estate premises.

 

The Tael was minted in Dutch Batavia (Indonesia) around the 17th century. The rarity of the coin is such that even numismatic reference books and catalogues only display a mere drawing of the coin in lieu of a photograph.The coin derives its name from the ‘tael’ weighing unit used for denominating the value in silver of traditional Chinese silver ‘sycees’ and other currencies.

 

The Piastre Decaen was named after the French Governor of the Ile De France, Charles Decaen. In 1810, Decaen commissioned a local engraver and jeweller, Aveline to design a coin. The Piastre which bore the value of 10 Livres were minted from silver ore found on board the ‘Ovidor’, a Portuguese ship captured by Lieutenant de Vaisseau Pierre Bouvet in the Straits of Malacca on 20 October 1809. The Piastre Decaen was also used by the British after they took possession of Mauritius in December 1810.

 

Located in the Indian Ocean, the Isles of France and Bourbon (now Mauritius and Reunion island), were at one time administered as a single colony by France. A common currency was thus issued and used across the two islands. The currency was a printed note called the ‘Assignat’ and it was denominated in livre tournois. One Livre was equal to 20 Sols.

 

The Rs1000 Government of Mauritius 1954 banknote is one of the rarest modern notes. This note is more commonly known as the ‘Interbank’ as it was used only for inter-bank settlement. The note is purple in colour and depicts the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Numismatic catalogues feature only serial number A4502 but the Bank of Mauritius Museum proudly owns banknote bearing serial number A4501.

 

The Charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria to the Mauritius Commercial Bank in 1838 gave it the powers to issue banknotes. The first Mauritius Commercial Bank notes were denominated in Dollars and were  issued from the printing blocks of Le Mauricien newspaper. Banknotes issued after 1839 were printed by other British printers including Myers and Sparrow.

 

The Board of Currency Commissioners was first set up by the British in Mauritius 1849 to act as the regulatory authority for the banks and as issuer of currency. The entity was subsequently replicated in other British colonies. The Board of Currency Commissioners of Mauritius issued banknotes from 1849 to 1967, until the Bank of Mauritius took over from its illustrious forebearer. An interesting anecdote is that Mauritius is the oldest overseas customer of British security printer firm Thomas De la Rue.