5 lats coin

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5 lati
Value 5 Latvian lats
Mass 25[1] g
Diameter 37[1] mm
Edge Inscription "DIEVS SVĒTĪ LATVIJU" (God bless Latvia) with words separated by three six point stars
Composition 0.8350 silver, 0.165 copper[1]
Silver 0.6711[1] troy oz
Years of minting 1929 (1929)–1932 (1932)[1]
Old 5 lats obverse.jpg
Design The large Coat of arms of Latvia. Denomination and year of issue.
Designer Rihards Zariņš
Old five lats reverse.jpg
Design Maiden in stylized folk costume with ears of grain over her shoulder. Inscription LATVIJAS REPUBLIKA (Republic of Latvia)
Designer Rihards Zariņš

The 5 lats coin was a Latvian lat coin minted in 1929, 1931 and 1932. It became a popular symbol of independence during the Soviet occupation. It was reproduced in several modern commemorative coins of Latvia and is used on the national sides of the Latvian 1 and 2 euro coins. The reverse design was featured on the 500 lats banknote and in watermarks of all lats banknotes.


Zelma Braure, the model depicted on the coin

In February 1929 the Latvian Ministry of Finance decided to issue a 5 lat circulation coin depicting the head of a maiden, which would symbolize the Republic of Latvia and freedom.[2] The coin was designed by Rihards Zariņš. The image of the maiden on the coin is colloquially known as Milda (a Latvian female name). The model was Zelma Brauere (1900-1977), a proofreader of the State Securities Printing House. She served as a model for other works of the artist, including the 10 lats and 20 lats banknotes and the 50 santīmi coin. In 1939 the Latvian government started preparing to mint new 5 lats coins to be issued in 1941. The Latvian maiden was to be replaced by a portrait of the authoritarian leader of Latvia Kārlis Ulmanis. Those coins were never minted as the Second World War broke out.[3] Already prior to the war people in Latvia had started to hoard silver coins to prepare for the imminent crisis. After the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 the silver coins all but disappeared from circulation. Meanwhile lats continued to circulate alongside the Soviet ruble until on 25 March 1941 it was abruptly annulled. As the general society was given no prior warning, it has been estimated that around 50 million lats were never exchanged for rubles. The people were left with coins and bills now worthless, except for the sentimental value and the silver content in the coins.[4] The Soviet authorities, however, did have 5 lats coins worth around 3.6 million after the lat was removed from circulation. In 1960 Soviet authorities reportedly sold silver lats coins to foreign numismatists for 28 DEM[2] Around the same time the Soviet Bank started purchasing gold and silver coins of historical currencies. The 5 lats coin could be sold for 60 kopeks.[4]

Modern usage[edit]

The image of the maiden featured on the reverse of the coin was used in the design of the modern 500 lats banknote.[4] It is also used as a watermark for all lats banknotes. The Bank of Latvia has issued two collector coins featuring the imagery of the 5 lats coin. The first was struck in 2003 as part of the international series The Smallest Gold Coins of the World.[5][6] The second was struck in 2012 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the bank. The Latvian Bank worked with the British Royal Mint, which minted the original coins, to recreate the coin using electrotypes used in minting the original coins.[7] In 2004, after a nationwide idea contest, the design was selected to be among the designs of the national side of the Latvian euro coins. It was later approved as a design for both the 1 and 2 euros[8] The edge of the 2 euro coin also features inscriptions similar to the one on edge of the 5 lats coin.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Latvia 5 Lati: 1929-1931". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Stradiņš, Jānis. "Pieclatu “Mildas” trešā atdzimšana" (in Latvian). Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Atrasts unikāls pieclatnieks ar Kārli Ulmani" (in Latvian). Delfi. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Ducmane, Kristīne; Vēciņš, Ēvalds (1995). Nauda Latvijā (in Latvian). Rīga: Latvijas Banka. ISBN 9984-9092-9-8. 
  5. ^ "Pasaules mazākās zelta monētas" (in Latvian). Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "5-lats Collector Coin". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "5-lats Silver Collector Coin". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Design Models of the Latvian Euro Coins". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Latvian Euro Coins". Retrieved 4 March 2013. 

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