Unique exhibits. Photo from 1925


Today marks the start of a new column on this website. It will feature exhibits that visitors will not be able to see displayed at the Money Museum, as they are stored at the museum’s archives, yet are surely as unique as those that are publicly available. Today we would like to present a unique and almost century-old photo. 

It captures a historic moment – unloading the shipment of the first Lithuanian coins. A writing on the photo reads that on 29 January 1925 the ship Baltanic delivered the first Lithuanian metal money to Klaipėda Port. The coins were made out of copper and minted in Birmingham, Great Britain. 

This photo also serves as a reminder of how quickly and effectively decisions had to be made in interwar-period Lithuania. The Law on Coins that granted the country exclusive rights to mint national coins was adopted on 20 June 1924. In August of the same year, the English, French and German press announced the contest to mint coins for the Republic of Lithuania. The contest, or rather the auction, took place on 10 September, involving 14 companies from England, Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Germany. On 18 September, the Minister of Finance Vytautas Petrulis approved the minutes of the auction and the Birmingham-based company King’s Norton Metal Works was declared the winner. In 12 days, on 22 September, a contract was signed with a representative of this company. According to it, the company had to mint 42 million coins ranging from 1 to 50 cents. It also had to deliver the first coin samples to the Ministry of Finance in 7 weeks after their models had been submitted. The first issue, 10 million coins, had to be delivered in 9 weeks after the approval of samples. The first samples were supposed to reach Kaunas in November. During a parliamentary sitting held at the end of November, the Ministry of Finance presented the received samples to the members of the Parliament and journalists. The first issue of minted coins was shipped from London to Klaipėda on 21 January 1925 and, as evident from the writing on the photo, reached Klaipėda Port eight days later. 

The coins entered into circulation in February. So it took only a little longer than six months from adopting the law to issuing the coins. 

The mintage of the first issue was supposed to contain 10 million coins but only 3,205 coins were actually delivered. The reason behind this was that the main coin minting press went out of order and the process had to be stopped for a month. Other shipments reached Lithuania later (at the end of February, in March, April and May).
By the way, the shipment of Lithuanian coins was probably one of the last trips made by Baltanic – that same year it was sold to a Danish company and renamed. 

Money Museum
Last updated: 2021-07-08