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LATS (1992-2013)

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Coin commemorating the barricades of January 1991

Coin commemorating the barricades of January 1991 Coin commemorating the barricades of January 1991
TypeSilver coin
MaterialSilver 925°
Issuance Date2006
Nominal Value1 Ls
Maximum Mintage5 000
Weight (g)31.47
Diameter (mm)38.61
Graphic designJuris Petraskevics
Plaster modelAndris Varpa
MintedRahapaja Oy (Finland)

Price: € 65.00

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Stylized design of bonfire flames. The inscription "janvāris 1991" is arranged in a semicircle in the upper part of the coin; the numeral 1 with the inscription "LATS" beneath it is centered in the lower part.


Lāčplēsis, the Latvian mythological hero, is depicted in the centre with a raised sword against the background of concrete block barricades, with the rising sun behind him; the concrete blocks bear fragments of the appeals to fight for freedom. On the left, the inscription 2006 is arranged in a semicircle; the inscriptions "Latvijas" and "Republika" are placed above and below the central motif, respectively.


Two inscriptions LATVIJAS BANKA (Bank of Latvia), separated by rhombic dots.

The Bank of Latvia issues a coin commemorating the barricades of January 1991.

Each stage in the life of a society involves moments that for a variety of reasons end up preserved in history books and people's memories, and, in the form of stories and legends, are passed on to the next generations. The peaceful resistance of the people of the Baltic States to the last attempts of the collapsing USSR to suppress their aspirations to independence, and its high point, the barricades in city streets in January 1991, took place in a relatively brief period of time, whereas its significance is long lasting. Each eyewitness and participant of these events has his or her own, very personal memories of the barricade period that are held very dear.

Maybe the first men who were called upon to guard the Latvian Television building that very night when the armed assault on the TV centre in Vilnius had started, are the proper addressees of the poetic message of the frozen bonfires depicted on the obverse of the coin. The seemingly contradictory image represents the fire that was about to break out: the selflessness, organisation and inventiveness that helped people to set up the "defence arrangements", placing heavy agricultural machinery around all sites of national importance in Riga in a short time and summoning to the capital countrymen whose diverse life philosophies, levels of material well-being and values would for a few weeks consolidate into a united patriotic manifestation of an ideal state.

It is the fate of any hero or heroic deed: the moment of the emotional enthusiasm is but a brief flash in the cold wastes of the universe. The image of Lāčplēsis on the reverse of the coin does not merely glorify the eternal, unceasing fight of the national hero, it highlights his strength and stance. This image was often seen on leaflets and self-made posters on the barricades, at people's meetings and demonstrations. In his drama "Fire and Night", Rainis makes Lāčplēsis doubt, and at times refrain from participation in events; in the fateful fight, both Lāčplēsis and his enemy sink to the bottom of the river where the battle between the darkness and the light will obviously never cease. Latvia has chosen to follow a path towards light.

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