Bank of Ceylon
1844-1849 Colombo

The Bank of Ceylon came into existence around 1840 but had no authority to issue notes till local Government passed Ordinance No 23 of 1844.

No issued notes are known. British Museum has a unsigned £2 with a serial number. Others known are specimen Proofs on card.

Denomination: 1 £
English : One Pound
Sinhala : පවඬ් එකයි
Thamil : ஒரு பவுன்ட்
Size : 203 x 126 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Proof on Card
Pick-lk S111
Denomination: 2 £
English : Two Pounds
Sinhala : පවඬ් දෙකයි
Thamil : இரண்டு பவுன்ட்
Size : 224 x 129 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Remainder
Pick-lk Unlisted
Denomination: 5 £
English : Five Pounds
Sinhala : පවඬ් පහයි
Thamil : ஐந்து பவுன்ட்
Size : 203 x 126 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Proof on Card
Pick-lk S112
Denomination: 10 £
English : Ten Pounds
Sinhala : පවඬ් දහයි
Thamil : பத்து பவுன்ட்
Size : 203 x 126 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Proof on Card
Pick-lk S113
Denomination: 20 £
English : Twenty Pounds
Sinhala : පවඬ් විසසයි
Thamil : இருபது பவுன்ட்
Size : 203 x 126 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Proof on Card
Pick-lk S114
Denomination: 50 £
English : Fifty Pounds
Sinhala : පවඬ් පනහයි
Thamil : ஐம்பது பவுன்ட்
Size : 203 x 126 mm
Date : 18(44)
Status : Proof on Card
Pick-lk S115

Front: On top Center Bank of Ceylon with on either side numeric value in shaded ellipse with Sinhala ලංක මුදල් නිධානය in arc above and Thamil பஙக்ஒவ்சீலோன் (Paṅakovcīlōṉ) in arc below. Crowned British Royal Coat of arms within belt with legend HONO SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE (French motto of the order of Garter translates to "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it") supported by lion on left and unicorn on right. Lion standing left on crown. Below DIEU ET MON DROIT in scroll. (The French motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom, translates to "God and My Right".)
On either side No Serial
On left in circular logo, Britannia with helmet seated facing forward, Shield with Union Jack under her right hand, lion sleeping right and a rolled package near her feet in front. Trident pointing up in left hand. Behind from left to right Camel standing right and three coconut palms, Elephant standing right, and steam boat with sails down. All within belt represented by two plain circles between which legend INCORPORATED BY ROYAL CHARTER above and a buckle at bottom.
Above COLOMBO _______18___.
To right THE BEARER hereof will receive VALUE POUNDS on demand at the Bank of Ceylon in the Currency of the Island. COLOMBO _______18___. Above value පවඬ් in Sinhala and below பவுன்ட் in Thamil.
Below For the DIRECTORS & COMPANY above two lines for Signature with Director and Manager on right
On left within shaded decorate value in Words VALUE POUNDS with value above පවඬ් in Sinhala and below பவுன்ட் in Thamil.
Exd & Entd _____ with Accountt below on right
In bottom middle in small text Perkins Bacon & Petch, London. Patent Hardened Steel Plate.
Back: Blank ?
WaterMark: CEYLON CURRENCY VALUE POUNDS

Note that except for the last thamil character ட் where "dot" is within rather than above, the "dot"s above the Thamil characters are missing from the printed Thamil Text of Value. These "dot"s are in Name of bank which has been transliterate in Thamil rather than Translated as in Sinhala as "Lanka Cash Treasury".

The Bank of Ceylon was founded in 1840; a branch was opened in Colombo in 1841 June, and another in Kandy in 1843. If Notes were issued for Kandy is unknown, See extract on production contained in surviving records of the firm held at the Royal Philatelic Society (RPS), London.

The 2011 Spink Auction of 19th Century Ceylon Notes listed Five of Specimen Proofs on card of Pound  1, 5, 10, 20, and 50. On the day of this Spink Auction, the anonymous owner of collection cancelled it.

The Banknote Auction catalogs don't give size of the notes. In 2016 while searching the British Museum catalog to find sizes, I noticed the Bank of Ceylon £2 listed. I thank Thomas Hockenhull of British Museum for having it imaged and confirming it's size, WaterMark and text below resolution of image posted.

Text from
Paper Money for Ceylon Printed in England by V. H. Hewitt, Pages 255-272
Origin, evolution, and circulation of foreign coins in the Indian Ocean.
Proceedings of the numismatic workshop : Colombo, 1994 September 8-10
edited by Osmund Bopearachchi and D. P. M. Weerakkody
Auction Images at 63;dpi displayed at 50 dpi. British Museum image at 84;dpi displayed at 50 dpi.

Please contact kavan @ gmail.com if I have made errors in encoding the Thamil in Unicode.