From the treasure trove of the Money Museum A unique picture from 1925

Today we begin publishing a new section of the Money Museum — “From the treasure trove of the Money Museum.” Here we will present exhibits that you will not see at the Money Museum exposition. These exhibits are stored in the funds of the Money Museum, but they are certainly no less unique than what is available to the public. Today we present a unique picture that has been around for almost 100 years. 

This original photo captured a historic moment — the unloading of the first Lithuanian coin shipment. The inscription on the photograph notes that the ship “Baltanic” introduced the first Lithuanian metal money to the port of Klaipėda on 29 January 1925. The shipment was made up of copper centas coins, minted in Birmingham (UK). 

This photograph also shows how quickly and effectively the first Republic of Lithuania had to make decisions. The Law on Coins, by which the State acquired the exclusive right to mint coins, was adopted on 20 June 1924. Already in August of the same year, it was announced in the English, French, and German press that a coin minting competition would be held in the Republic of Lithuania. This competition, or rather auction, took place on 10 September. 14 firms from England, Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Germany took part. On 18 September, the Minister of Finance, V. Petrulis, approved the auction minutes and the announced winner was the Birmingham firm King’s Norton Metal Works. Only 12 days later, on 22 September, a contract was signed in Kaunas with a representative of this company. Under the agreement, the firm had to mint 42 million coins — from 1 to 50 centas. The company had to deliver the first samples of coins for approval by the Ministry of Finance within seven weeks from the date of delivery of the models. The first batch of coins — 10 million coins — was due to be delivered within nine weeks from the date of approval of the samples. The first coin samples were to be sent to Kaunas in November. At the end of November, the Ministry of Finance presented the received samples of coins to members of the Seimas and journalists. The first batch of minted coins was sent by boat from London to Klaipėda on 21 January 1925, and, as we can see from the picture, the shipment reached the port of Klaipėda eight days later. 

The coins were due to appear in February, but it seems that they were issued a little later (4 or 6 February). Regardless, it took about half a year since the law was passed to the arrival of the first centas coins. 
The first shipment was planned for 10 million coins, but only 3,205 thousand coins were received. Fewer coins were minted because the main minting machine broke down and work was halted for a month. Other shipments reached Lithuania later (end of February, March, April, May). 

By the way, the delivery of Lithuanian centas was probably one of the last voyages of the ship “Baltanic” — that same year it was sold to a Danish company that changed its name.