Counterfeit Detection: Bank of Madras 20 Rupee Banknote

Posted on 11/19/2019

While viewing this note under specialized lighting, the PMG team noticed traces of another serial number.

Many banks were established in India during the British colonial period, including the Bank of Madras, formed in 1843 for the Madras administrative division of the British government. PMG recently received a 20-rupee note from this bank, dated 1849 (Pick S141, Jhunjhunwalla-Rezwan 1C.3.1.3).

British India, 20 Rupee Banknote, Pick S141
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Our graders noticed that the note in question seemed strange, and upon closer examination discovered some problems.

Front of the note under UV lighting
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Observed under UV lighting, the note appears lighter down the center and darker elsewhere. The lighter band indicates repair work in the area. The repair runs the length of the note meaning that at some point it had been cut in half. The back of the note shows the seam where the two halves are joined.

Back of the note under UV lighting
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At the time that this was issued, notes were cut in half as a security measure. The halves were sent separately by post and then rejoined. This appears to be one such note, but the graders noticed another inconsistency that revealed that the two halves do not match as well as they should.

(Left) First zero, left serial number, (Right) First zero, right serial number
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Viewed side-by-side, the serial numbers differ in several ways. The edges of the zeroes pictured above appear different, and do not join at the top in the same way. Further evidence of this note's inauthenticity is exposed under specialized lighting.

Left serial number under specialized lighting
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Viewed under this type of lighting, the middle digit shows traces of another number, indicating an alteration. Such alterations can be difficult to detect, especially on an old note with extensive repair work. Collectors submitting their notes to PMG can trust that any note we encapsulated is backed by the PMG Guarantee of grade and authenticity.

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