The Central Bank of Ceylon issued a rupee coin with the effigy of the President to commemorate the installation of the First Executive President on 4th February, 1978. These coins were minted on a Cabinet decision conveyed to the Senior Deputy Governor, Dr W. M. Tillekaratne on the afternoon of Friday 13th January, 1978.
In normal circumstances the minting of a coin takes about 4 to 6 months but in this instance the coin had to be minted and be made available for issue in a matter of three weeks only. Therefore in view of the urgency and the special circumstances the Bank had to deviate in certain matters from normal procedure. One such matter was the onus of approving the design without obtaining the approval of the President elect of the photograph of the plaster model with the effigy as it would appear on the coin. Foreseeing this Governor Tennekoon obtained the President elect's consent, when they called over at his residence on the night of 13th January for obtaining his views, to send an officer of the Bank to the mint, if necessary, for approving on the spot the specifications etc of the coin.
The reference material for the coin was despatched on 13th January, to the High Commission in London for transmission to the Royal Mint. On Thursday 19th January, at about 3:30 P.M. the Royal Mint contacted the Bank by telephone and advised that the plaster model was ready and was to be taken on the following morning to our High Commission for approval of the profile of the effigy and required the Bank's consent by noon 20th January, to proceed with the manufacture of the tools. Acting on this request the then Senior Deputy Governor, Dr W. M. Tillekaratne then approved of either the Superintendent of Currency or Mr T. M. U. Sallay going to London immediately, to be available to the Mint for any consultation. The Superintendent of Currency suggested that Mr T. M. U. Sallay being conversant with the minting of coins should be sent on this mission. In these circumstances Mr T. M. U. Sallay embarked for London on a flight which left Colombo on the same night at 22:15 hours to be at the mint on the morning of 20th January, before the actual manufacture of the tools were to commence.
On Friday 27th January, Governor Tennekoon contacted Mr T. M. U. Sallay in London by telephone and instructed him to request the mint to strike 25 to 30 replicas of the commemorative coin in Gold.
The manufacture of the tools were completed on 29th January and the first batch of 2,600 pieces of the standard coins an 29 replicas was ready by the afternoon of 30th January. To ensure that at least a few coins were available for issue on 4th February 1978, as requested by the Governor, Mr T. M. U. Sallay brought these coins from London on his return flight on 31st January, arriving in Colombo in the early hours of 1st February.
On 2nd February Governor Tennekoon handed over 28 of these Gold replicas to the President elect which were presented by him to the Cabinet Ministers and members of his family on the day he was installed as Executive President.
On a subsequent date Governor Tennekoon requested the Superintendent of Currency to order from the Royal mint 10 more gold replicas so that he could present one each to the members of the Monetary Board, the Senior Deputy Governor, Chief Accountant, Superintendent of Currency and Mr T. M. U. Sallay who was directly involved in the execution of this task of minting a commemorative coin in an unprecedently short time to the entire satisfaction of the Government. These 10 replicas were ordered and were received in the latter part of September 1978, during the absence of Governor Tennekoon from the Island.
The effigy of the president on the first batch of 2,600 coins was later found to be slightly different from those on the balance of the order. Numismatically these form a much sought after collectors' item.