Exhibition “Vytis: From the Lithuanian Denar to the Euro”

As the adoption of the euro in Lithuania approached, an exhibition was opened at the historical edifice of the Bank of Lithuania in Kaunas. It was arranged by the Money Museum and was dedicated to highlighting the development of one of the most ancient coats of arms in Europe, Vytis. The Vytis coat of arms is a mounted knight with a sword and a shield on an arms shield. On the oldest Lithuanian coins the knight appeared at the end of the 14th c. Initially, the figure of the knight was not yet settled on. On some coins the knight is depicted as riding to the left, in others — to the right; in some he holds a spear while others show a sword. The image of the knight settled fully under the rule of Sigismund the Old; the groats minted in 1535 began featuring a double cross on the knight’s shield. The 1569 Union of Lublin validated the composite coat of arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the Polish Eagle. The 1580 Ordinance not only equalized the Lithuanian and Polish coins in value, but also established the mandatory use of the coats of arms of either state. After the third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, most of our land became part of the Russian Empire. When Lithuania declared independence on 16 February 1918, the historical Knight of the GDL (Vytis) became the coat of arms of the Republic of Lithuania. It is depicted on the first provisional banknotes of the 10 September 1922 issue. The designs for the 16 November 1922 permanent banknotes were created by the artist A. Varnas, while those for other issues — by A. Galdikas, V. Jomantas and A. Žmuidzinavičius, the plaster models for the coins of the 1925, 1936 and 1938 issues — by the sculptor J. Zikaras. The Soviet Union occupation brought the development of Lithuanian money to a halt.

The declaration of the Act of Independence of Lithuania on 11 March 1990 returned the historical coat of arms of Lithuania — Vytis. The Knight created as early as before the war by J. Zikaras, which was used in coins, became the basis for its composition. The new version of the coat of arms, created by the artist A. Každailis and validated on 4 September 1991, has been used to date. In the creation of the first designs for coins and minting the first coins, the image of the Knight created by J. Zikaras was used. In 1997, the Lithuanian Mint minted the circulation 10, 20, 50 cent coins, in 1998 — the 1, 2, 5 litas coins of a new sample. Their plaster models were created by the sculptor A. Žukauskas, who used the version of the Knight which had been adapted specifically to coins by A. Každailis. Artists creating collector coins issued by the Bank of Lithuania are authorized to create a greater variety of versions of the Knight. In 2004 Lithuania became a Member State of the European Union and started preparations for the adoption of the euro. The decision was made to depict the figure of the coat of arms of Lithuania — the Knight — on the national side of the Lithuanian euro coins. Its plaster models were created by A. Žukauskas.

13 May–September 2014
Kaunas branch of the Bank of Lithuania (Maironio g. 25, Kaunas)

2 October 2014
Vilnius Central Post Office (Gedimino pr. 7, Vilnius)

10 March–10 April 2015
Museum of the History of Lithuania Minor (Didžioji Vandens g. 2, Klaipėda).

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