2010 - Sri Lanka - Currency note
Development, Prosperity and Sri Lanka Dancers

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) issued, for circulation, a new series of currency notes on the "Development, Prosperity and Sri Lanka Dancers" theme on 2011 February 4th, dated 2010-01-01.

The first set of currency notes under the new series was ceremonially issued to H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Deyata Kirula Exhibition in Buttala on 2011 February 4th by the Governor of the Central Bank Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal. They were not issued to public at the exhibition site as announced. The new notes were issued to the public through CBSL cash counter and CBSL Museum at Rajagiriya from Monday, 2011 February 7th.

Gold 153x67 mmRs5000 note
Green 148x67 mmRs1000 note
Purple143x67 mmRs 500 note
Orange138x67 mmRs 100 note
Blue 133x67 mmRs 50 note
Maroon128x67 mmRs 20 note

The landscape front of the note was designed by Artist Mr Kelum Gunasekara has in the center a new economic development with an older example in the background. It also has on each an endemic Bird of Sri Lanka on the right and a Butterfly on the lower left.

The portrait back of the notes designed by Artist Sisira Liyanaarachchi have different pair of a traditional Sri Lankan drummer and a dancer. A guard stone appears on the upper right on a vertical band with floral design. A map of Sri Lanka appears in the background centered to the left of this band.

The new series consists of six denominations i.e. Rs. 5,000, Rs. 1,000, Rs. 500, Rs. 100, Rs. 50 and Rs. 20. The high value Rs. 5000 note is being introduced to facilitate expansion in transactions that has taken place with the growth of the economy.

The main difference between the existing series and the new series is the size of the notes. The width of all notes in the new series is the same for all denominations, while the length increases by 5 mm from the lowest denomination to the highest. The notes contain several current and new advanced security features.

Since the Pictorial issue of George the VI issued in 1941 the watermark was a Lion on all notes except the wartime fractional notes below Rs1. Originally it was the lion from the Ratnapura Flag, standing on hind legs holding a whip, After 1985 when the Ceylon in the Name of the Central Bank was changed to Sri Lanka, it was the Standing Lion of the National Flag. CBSL has now broken with tradition and removed the lion watermark and these are the first notes after 1951 that we don't have the Lankan lion as a watermark. The image of the bird on each note has been used as the watermark for that note in this series. Since the watermark in general repesents the Authority of issue, the removal of the lion symbol is inappropriate. An observant trishaw driver commented on the new notes saying the nation's lion has been replaced by an owl.

The CBSL met the requests of collectors and for the first time issued sets of six notes with matching serial numbers in a colourful folder with a slip case. The price of Rs.7,500 included an extra Rs. 830 for the folder. The text is only in English. Individual folders are also available for each denomination where the text is in all three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English. Costing from Rs. 150 to Rs 5,500, depending on the denomination, the full set of six individual folders cost Rs.8100. Only a 1000 of each has been made as Limited collectors' items.

The folder with all six notes seems to be more popular and had serial numbers in the 5000's. The six individual folders had serial numbers in the 6000's and I was lucky to get a set of them with the same serial number. Buying the folders has the additional advantage of getting low serial numbers which hold a numismatic premium.

CBSL has also issued an uncut sheet of 40 Rs100 notes, with a certificate Authentication hand signed by the Superintendent of Currency, sold in a tube for protection. With a face value of Rs4000, it was sold by CBSL for Rs7000 (US$62.5). It is the first time that Uncut currency sheets were issued in Sri Lanka. Printed as a 5 by 8 Array they have a special serial prefix CB/60 for the Central Bank 60th Anniversary.

All of the new currency products have been put on sale at the CBSL online shop Collectors abroad can order directly from CBSL and pay with Credit Card. For example, the US$67 price of full set of 6 with Album is just 12.5% over Face value and lot cheaper than on eBay

Export and Import of Foreign & Sri Lanka Currency is dealt with Government Gazette Notification dated September 27, 2007 bearing No.1516/24 The limit of Sri Lankan currency that is allowed to be taken abroad is Rs5000. According to CBSL you need exchange control permission to take or post a full set of New Currency notes abroad with or without folder. This is another reason to order what you need from abroad via the CBSL online store. All sellers marketing them on eBay, ignoring these Laws.

See my Article and also image in the SundayTimes of 2011 February 13th. It was reproduced for the International readership in the E-Sylum on the same day.

CBSL is still issuing the old notes and there has been no order to Banks to return what old notes they get to CBSL for withdrawal from circulation, as they do for notes issued before 1991. This implies that the old notes will circulate for another two or more years, till they all ware out and removed from circulation. The two sizes will be a confusion for a long time.

ATMs after they are programmed to switch over to new notes, will not be able to dispense old notes, and so this will not happen for some time till CBSL issues mostly new notes to Banks. The currency counting machines in Banks can only handle one size at a time, and so the new notes will need to be counted separately from the old.

The Annual report for 2014 Part02 Sec 5.2(a) states Several improvements were made to the quality of currency notes by increasing the thickness of currency paper and introducing a coating of varnish for low denominations of currency notes to enhance the durability of the Notes.. Denominations Rs 20, 50 and 100 with No change in date.

New signatures Ravi Karunanayake & A. Mahendran dated 2015-02-04

New signatures Ravi Karunanayake & I. Coomaraswamy dated 2016-07-04

New signatures Mangala Samaraweera & I. Coomaraswamy dated 2017-05-22

Text edited from CBSL Press Release and Information notice. Images as in full page colour advertisements published in local newspapers.
See also