16 February on the interwar period Lithuania’s money


When preparations for the 20th anniversary celebration of Lithuania’s independence began, the Ministry of Finance considered the proposal of issuing a silver 2-litas coin featuring the portrait of Antanas Smetona during the year of the anniversary (1938). Juozas Zikaras created two designs for the coin (one with the Columns of Gediminas and another with Vytis on the obverse). Soon after, their stamps were made and trial samples were minted. However, the coins were not minted. One of the reasons was that the coin’s size was not very impressive, since another much larger coin was issued in the same year.

In the second half of 1938, new silver 10-litas coins created by Spindulys mint and minted using stamps made in Belgium were released. The size, weight and metal alloy of the coins were the same as those of other coins in circulation (5-litas coin featuring Basanavičius and 10-litas coin featuring Vytautas the Great), the only difference being their design. Since these were commemorative coins, their design had to be different. It was almost identical to one of the designs that were created for a 2-litas coin that was never released into circulation: the obverse featured the portrait of Antanas Smetona and the reverse - the Columns of Gediminas. The text on the edge of the coin read: “The nation’s power lies in unity”. This issue of commemorative 10-litas coins was the last to be minted at the mint in Kaunas.

Interestingly, alongside this coin, the mint also minted a gold copy, a souvenir, at its own expense. It was gifted to Antanas Smetona on his name-day by the employees of Spindulys AB Pinigų Kalykla mint.

It was also planned to release a commemorative 10-litas banknote in 1938. An artist Adomas Galdikas created the design of this banknote, commissioned by the Bank of Lithuania. Its obverse featured the portrait of Antanas Smetona, President of the Republic of Lithuania, a facsimile of the Act of Independence, Vytis and the Columns of Gediminas. The reverse featured a photo of the Council of Lithuania, the signatories of the Act of Independence and the coats of arms of three main cities, Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda, were placed above the photo. These commemorative banknotes were supposed to be released in 1938, and a London-based company (Bradbury, Wilkinson and Co. Ltd) had even prepared banknote samples, but they were never printed for reasons that are still unknown.

This was independent Lithuania’s last attempt to release a new issue of litas.