Rare Indian banknotes recovered from 1918 sunken ship to be auctioned in London

Rare Indian banknotes recovered from 1918 sunken ship to be auctioned in London

Two rare 10-rupee Indian banknotes from 1918, recovered from the sunken SS Shirala, will be auctioned in London on May 28. The notes, in remarkable condition, could fetch between 2,000 and 2,600 pounds.


Two 10-rupee Indian banknotes survived after a ship travelling from Bombay to London sank in 1918.

The boat which was also carrying wine, marmalade and ammunition was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat. 

The two banknotes will now be presented at an auction in London, on May 28, according to media reports.

The auction which will be held at Noonans Mayfair auction house in London is a part of their World Banknotes sale, and can be sold off at 2,000 to 2,600 pounds.

The two 10-rupee banknotes, issued on May 25, 1918, were found on a ship called SS Shirala.

According to a report, Thomasina Smith, Worldwide Head of Numismatics at Noonans said, "Entire blocks of these notes, along with various supplies from marmalade to ammunition, were being shipped to Bombay from London when the vessel was torpedoed by a German U-boat."

"Many notes drifted ashore, including unsigned 5 and 10 Rupees, and signed 1 Rupee notes, one of which is also featured in this auction. Most were retrieved and subsequently destroyed by the authorities, with new ones printed to replace them. However, a few examples remain in private collections," she said.

It may be mentioned that the notes came to attention after the Bank of England took to social media and mentioned the 1918 shipwreck.

"These notes are in remarkable condition. They must have been in the centre of a tightly bound bundle, preventing contact with seawater. It's also notable that they have consecutive serial numbers," she added.

On the other hand, another rare Government of India 100-rupee note which belongs to the British colonia era will also be a part of the auction. It can be auctioned somewhere between GBP 4,400 and 5,000, according to reports.

The note with amount written in various Indian languages, was signed and stamped in Calcutta and can be dated back to 1917 and 1930.

Another "Reserve Bank of India, Persian Gulf Issue" 5-rupee note, traced to 1957-62 is expected to be auctioned for 2,200-2,800 pounds.

Edited By: Avantika
Published On: May 24, 2024