From Lithuania’s history of counterfeiting money


Litas entered into circulation in Lithuania on 2 October 1922 and soon money counterfeiters also started their operation. The first banknotes did not have many security features and residents did not know the new currency well, so it was not that difficult to counterfeit the banknotes - it was even done by employing foreign companies.

In the beginning of October 1923, in Naumiestis (currently Žemaičių Naumiestis) and Šilutė districts, 50-cent counterfeit banknotes started spreading (at the time, there were no cent coins in Lithuania yet, so banknotes were also printed out for cents). It was found out in May 1923 that Vilius Minjotas from Gurgždžiai (Šilutė region), started communicating with Parkus printing house in Munich concerning the printing out 10 thousand 50-cent banknotes, but the printing house only agreed to print a much larger quantity of banknotes (100 thousand) for the fee of 50 million German marks or 500 dollars. Since Minjotas did not have that much money, he found three more people who sold their farm animals and borrowed 127 dollars. When Minjotas went to the printing house in Munich, he found out that  he will have to pay 24 billion marks for 100 thousand banknotes, but the mark had depreciated in value and 127 dollars were enough. However, he was asked to provide a permit that allows him to print money.

Instead of doing that, the counterfeiters sent a Lithuanian permit to ride a bicycle thinking that Germans will not understand what is written on it anyway. The printing house asked for the permit to be provided in German. So, the counterfeiters typed this on a typewriter: “This permit allows Vilius Minjotas to print Lithuanian 50-cent banknotes. President Simonaitis.” On it, a stamp with Vytis and inscription “Head of the County Board” was put, which was made in Tilsit.

After a few days, Minjotas brought to Tilsit 40 thousand 50-cent banknotes from Munich. A little bit later, he brought another 60 thousand. From Tilsit, the money was transported to Lithuania by crossing the Neman River. During the market in Šilutė and Naumiestis, the four accomplices distributed around 40 thousand banknotes in 10 days. All the counterfeiters were arrested.
It turns out that they had no plans of stopping. A letter found in October 1923 included an inquiry whether to start the printing of 50 litas banknotes that would now cost 600 billion marks and a request to send an additional sample of the banknote.

(Eduardas Remecas. Counterfeiting and Distribution of Banknotes in Independent Lithuania (1918-1940) According to the Periodical Press. “Money Studies” 2, 2012)

From Lithuania’s history of counterfeiting money Banknote of 50 cents. 1922 Fake banknote of 50 cents. 1922
Last updated: 2021-06-19