Recently on TypeDrawers, a question was asked about how the Indian rupee symbol is being utilized in casual handwriting in the wild. After about a year in India, I have indeed seen it written by hand, but not very often at all. After skimming through my 16,000+ photos from India from the last 3 years, I’ve found only one lonely image containing a handmade ₹.
But as I was searching through the images I came up with a few theories as to why there are so few handmade rupee symbols out there. The images I present here are beyond the scope of of the original question regarding casual, hand-written adaptations – some are here to back up my concepts/claims and others are shown to simply illustrate common situations of how you will find the ₹ in various contexts.
The main theories I have as to why you see so little of hand-written Rupee signs:
1) Many products found in markets or small shops (places you’d most expect to see handmade signs) don’t have prices written down. Customers must simply inquire about the cost (and of course, who is asking may or may not affect the price).
2) Most small items that are pre-packaged, processed, or manufactured have their prices printed directly on them (or on a sticker by the manufacture or importer). And since the price is already printed on the product, the shop feels no need to announce the price any further or more clearly, i.e. with tags or signs on the shelves.
3) Larger and more expensive products come from nicer or fancier shops, so they will almost always have their prices printed using actual typefaces (although probably without a matching ₹ symbol). They may or may not be directly on the packing, but it’s more likely there will be shelf tags and signs to indicate the price. (There are exceptions that fall into the first example – e.g. furniture shops that shows no prices, you must enquire about each item.)
* This idea is probably also related to the disappearance of hand-painted signs. Printed signs are considered more professional, no matter the quality, so places with printed signs are generally more expensive than those with painted ones (ironically, printed signs are often cheaper to produce than hand painted!)
There are certainly exceptions to these generalizations and I will try to track down counter examples. It should also be possible to find shops and markets that write rupee symbols by hand (but at least is Mumbai where I spend most of my time, it’s very uncommon – other cities may be different).
• The first two images show some signs for food items, but without any prices.
• The next four give prices along with the products, but they only list a number and give no indication of the currency.
• The next four show variations of a very common treatment: the price like: 99/- or 99/. (Yes, that third image is from 2013 and it does indeed show a used book store in Pune actually trying to sell a 2006 Ikea catalog for 225₹ = €3.20 / $3.50).
• The 5th image tries hard with the design-y variation: 699/*
• On the receipt in the final image, they write no currency symbol, but there is a very minuscule Rs. printed in 4 or 5 points at the top of the price column.
• These images show how prices are often printed directly onto packaged products. Usually too, they only say Rs. and don’t even contain the ₹ symbol.
• This collection shows typical examples of printed ₹. There are occasionally good examples of symbols that match the weight or style of the numpers in the price, but more often it’s a generic symbol that doesn’t even try to match the scale or proportions whatsoever. I believe this is the result of laziness and simply not caring. Since most fonts in use do not contain rupee symbols, it’s too much to ask these DTP operators to carefully select or modify a ₹ symbol to nicely match. This will slowly change as newer, more modern fonts get in circulation. It’s already visible with bigger brands and ad campaigns, but this hasn’t trickled down yet to locally produced graphics.
• I’ll make another post about these Škoda ads, once I can find another image that’s currently eluding me.
• The last image shows a pricing/tag gun sticker with a ₹ pre-printed. I had another (very terrible) photo of one with an actual ₹ glyph that gets stamped with the price (meaning not pre-printed on the paper), but I set it aside because it was so poor quality and now now I can’t find it… I will try to get another because I find this quite interesting.
• Finally, this is the single image I happen to have of a hand-drawn rupee sign. It was made on a chalk board in Goa – it’s advertising a pint of Kingfisher beer for 35₹ (€.49 or $.54)(and you wonder why Goa is a popular destination…) (compare that to the 4 pints for 699/* special shown above = 175₹/pint).
I will go out and try to find more examples of handwritten ₹ symbols soon! When I find more, I’ll update them here.