Anecdotes

The RBI Seal

The selection of the Bank's common seal to be used as the emblem of the Bank on currency notes, cheques and publications, was an issue that had to be taken up at an early stage of the Bank's formation.

The general ideas on the seal were as follows:

  1. the seal should emphasise the Governmental status of the Bank, but not too closely;
  2. it should have something Indian in the design;
  3. it should be simple, artistic and heraldically correct; and
  4. the design should be such that it could be used without substantial alteration for letter heading, etc.

For this purpose, various seals, medals and coins were examined. The East India Company Double Mohur, with the sketch of the Lion and Palm Tree, was found most suitable; however, it was decided to replace the lion by the tiger, the latter being regarded as the more characteristic animal of India!

To meet the immediate requirements in connection with the stamping of the Bank's share certificates, the work was entrusted to a Madras firm. The Board, at its meeting on February 23, 1935, approved the design of the seal but desired improvement of the animal's appearance. Unfortunately it was not possible to make any major changes at that stage. But the Deputy Governor, Sir James Taylor, did not rest content with this. He took keen interest in getting fresh sketches prepared by the Government of India Mint and the Security Printing Press, Nasik. As a basis for good design, he arranged for a photograph to be taken of the statue of the tiger on the entrance gate at Belvedere, Calcutta. Something or the other went wrong with the sketches so that Sir James, writing in September I938, was led to remark:

...... s tree is all right but his tiger looks too like some species of dog, and I am afraid that a design of a dog and a tree would arouse derision among the irreverent. .....'s tiger is distinctly good but the tree has spoiled it. The stem is too long and the branches too spidery, but I should have thought that by putting a firm line under the feet of his tiger and making his tree stronger and lower we could get quite a good result from his design.

Later, with further efforts, it was possible to have better proofs prepared by the Security Printing Press, Nasik. However, it was eventually decided not to make any change in the existing seal of the Bank, and the new sketches came to be used as an emblem for the Bank's currency notes, letter-heads, cheques and publications issued by the Bank.

Source: 'History of the Reserve Bank of India'

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