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About the Bank
Currency Museum

The Central Bank Currency Museum was established on 20 April 1982 at the Central Bank Head Office in Colombo Fort. At present, the Museum is housed within the premises of the Central Point Building, 54, Chatham Street, Colombo 01. The museum is open to the general public, school groups and foreign / local numismatists from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Monday to Friday on all working days except public and bank holidays, Admission to the Museum is free.

The Central Bank Currency Museum traces the history of the usage of coins and notes in Sri Lanka from 3 BC to date and has on display a large number of ancient coins and notes which were used in the country dating back from 3 BC. Foreign coins and notes received from other Central Banks are also on display at the museum.

The ancient coins and notes are displayed chronologically covering the following periods.
Ancient Period >>
Medieval Period >>
Colonial Period >>
Post Independence Period and since the establishment of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka >>

Ancient Period
Anuradhapura Kingdom (3 BC to 107 AD)


Lakshmi Plaques
Mane less Lion coins
Kahavanu or Lankeshvara coin

Swastika coins

Foreign Coins

The earliest unit of currency known in the island is referred to as a Kahapana. They are called puranas in Sanskrit and eldings in English. They are commonly known as punch marked coins, due to the marks or symbols that had been struck either on one side or both sides of the coin. These coins were used in Ceylon from 3 BC. Kahapanas are reckoned to have been produced by cutting strips of metal from hammered sheets. The known coins have been of many shapes, such as round, square, rectangular or oblong. Their weight had been adjusted by clipping the corners. The metal of the Kahapana has been found mostly to be silver.

Lakshmi Plaques

A Sinhalese gold coinage known as the 'kahavanu" had been in circulation in the island from about 7 to 8 AD.


Foreign Coins
The presence of foreign coins in the island would undoubtedly be due to international trade. These coins have been found mostly in Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Sigiriya , Kurunegala, Matara, Akurugoda and Badulla. Most of the coins are Greek, Indo Greek, Roman, Indo Roman, Chinese, Arabic and Indian.

Medieval Period
Polonnaruwa to Kotte Kingdoms (1017 AD - 1597 AD)

Massa coins







Vijayabahu 1


Parakramabahu 1


Dambadeniya Kingdom

Vijayabahu III

Cetu coins – Jaffna
Parakramabahu II Lion coin – Parakramabahu IV

Buwanekabahu I


Kandyan Kingdom (1474 AD - 1815 AD)



Dambadeni kasi

Salli Tangama

Colonial Period
Portuguese Period (1505 AD - 1658 AD)Coins used in the Portuguese period

Saint type coins (St. Thome) - Gold / Silver


Malakka - Silver


Ginimassa - Silver

Cakram etc.

Dutch Period (1640 AD - 1796 AD)
Coins used in the Dutch Period

Rix Dollar





West freaseland



The first paper currency was introduced by the Dutch. It was known as Kredit Brieven or Kas- nooten.

British Period (1796 AD - 1948 AD)
In 1796 Under the Surrender Treaty, issue of currency was taken over by the British Coins used by the British


British Stuiver
Rix Dollar ( Silver coin - 1825 )
Rupee (Indian Rupee)
Half Rupee
Quarter Rupee

Decimal coinage was introduced in 1872 i.e. 100 cents equal to one rupee
Coins below one rupee were
¼ cent (copper)
½ cent (copper)
One cent (copper)
Two cents (brass)
Five cents (brass)
Ten cents (brass)
Twenty five cents (brass)
Fifty cents (brass)

During the British period, notes were issued by three authorities:
1. Notes Issued by the General Treasury (1827 – 1855) Pound Notes

One pound

Two pounds

Five pounds

2. Notes issued by the Private Banks, namely, (1844 – 1884)

The Oriental Bank Corporation

The Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Asiatic Banking Corporation

(i) Pound notes
(ii) Rupee notes


Notes issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency
(Under Government of Ceylon) (1884 – 1950)
The Board of Commissioners consisted of

The Treasurer

Colonial Secretary

Auditor General

Subsidiary Currency Notes
Under the provisions of the Emergency Powers Acts. 1939 and 1940 the Board of Currency was authorized to issue denominations below one rupee to meet the shortage of coins.

Subsidiary Notes issued by the Board of Commissioners
05 Cents
10 Cents
25 Cents
50 Cents
1 Rupee

Of these notes, the 5 cents carried imprints of postage stamps of 2 cents and 3 cents.
Other Notes issued by the Board of Commissioners
One Rupee
Two Rupees
Five Rupees
Ten Rupees
Fifty Rupees
Hundred Rupees
Five hundred Rupees
Thousand Rupees
Ten thousand Rupees

Rs. 10,000 currency note was used only for inter bank transactions.

Post Independence Period and since establishment of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka was established on 28 August 1950 in terms of the Monetary Law Act No. 58 of 1949. The Monetary Law Act provided for establishment of a Monetary Board to administer, among other things, the issue of currency, which included both notes and coins.

Coins issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka
The notes issued by the British were used in Ceylon up to 1951 and the coins were used up to 1963. The first coin series were introduced in 1963. The Emblem of Ceylon was introduced in the obverse of this coin series. This series consisted of coins in the denominations of

One cent (aluminium)

Two cents (aluminium)

Five cents (aluminium)

Ten cents (aluminium)

Twenty-five cents (copper / nickel)

Fifty cents (copper / nickel)

One rupee (copper / nickel)

Eleven series of currency notes have been issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka since 1950.
  Theme Denomination (Rs)


01 King George VI series 1 and 10 1951
02 Queen Elizabeth II series 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100 1952
03 Armorial Ensign of Ceylon series 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100 1956
04 S W R D Bandaranaike Portrait series 2, 5, 10 ,50, 100 1962
05 King Parakramabahu Series 2, 5, 10, 50, 100 1965
06 Armorial Ensign of Sri Lanka series 50, 100 1975
07 Fauna and Flora Series 2, 5, 10, 20 ,50, 100 1979
08 Historical and Archaeological series 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 1981
09 Historical and Development series 500, 1000 1987
10 Sri Lanka Heritage series 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000
11 Development, Prosperity and Sri Lankan Dancers 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000
2000, 5000

Rupees 5 (nickel / brass) and Rupees 2 (copper / nickel) coins were introduced in 1984 instead of the five rupee and two rupee notes.

In 2005, the Central Bank issued a new series of circulation coins of Rs.5 and Rs.2 by changing their weight and alloy, while Rs. 1, Cts 50 and Cts.25 coins were issued by changing the size, alloy, weight and colour.  These new coins were circulated along with the existing coins in circulation.

The Central Bank Currency Museum displays foreign coins and notes received from various countries and maintain a Numismatists Library for visitors. This library has a collection of rare books, periodicals and magazines published on the subject of coins and notes in Sri Lanka as well as foreign coins and notes. The general public can purchase commemorative coins issued by the Bank which are available for sale at the museum premises. Museum visitors could obtain the following published materials free of charge.
History of Money >>
Facts of Currency >>
Know Your Bank Notes >>
Currency Guide >>
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