The Russian Empress Elizaveta Petrovna thought about the possibility of replacing metal money with paper money in the 40s of the 18th century. But her idea was rejected by the Senate, which considered reprehensible the very idea of circulating "paper" instead of money.
A little later, Peter III tried to introduce paper money, having issued on May 25, 1762 a decree on the establishment of the State Bank and the introduction of bank notes into the money circulation of Russia. Samples of banknotes of 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rubles were even prepared. But, a coup d'état, during which the emperor died, prevented the plan from being completed.
Therefore, the first paper notes in the country appeared under the Empress Catherine II, who, by the way, was an active participant in the conspiracy against her husband Peter III.
After her accession to the throne, considerable sums were needed to reward the people who helped her take the throne. And Catherine returned to the issue of printing paper notes.
The Empress's Manifesto of December 29, 1768 read: "We are pleased to begin the establishment of our exchange banks in the Empire and hope that through this we will provide a new sign of maternal care to all our subjects."
One of the arguments in favor of paper money was called "the burden of a copper coin" and its inconvenience in handling. But a more compelling reason was the need to search for new sources of replenishment of the state treasury to wage war with Turkey.
In order for the banknotes to enjoy the confidence of the population, they had to be accepted in all types of payment. The banks established by Catherine were supposed to contain metal money in the amount of issued paper notes. The exchange of coins for banknotes and vice versa had to be carried out without any restrictions.
The bank notes of the first issue were of four denominations: 25, 50, 75 and 100 rubles. Soon the 75-ruble bill had to be abandoned. Craftsmen easily converted 25 rubles into 75. Moreover, they forged them so well that it was not immediately possible to distinguish them. Therefore, the 75 ruble banknote was withdrawn from circulation and was no longer printed.
By the manifesto of 1786, smaller bills of 5 and 10 rubles were introduced into circulation. Because of the color of the paper on which they were printed, they were called "blue" and "red". It is interesting that the tradition of issuing banknotes of 5 rubles on blue paper, and 10 on red paper lasted for a long time. Even in the Soviet Union, the age-old tradition has not changed.