The cosmopolitan city of Volos holds many surprises. While carefully counting my change (three times!) after a newspaper purchase in that fair city, I discovered a seemingly brand new 0.50 € coin sparkling in my hand. Lithuania!
Officially in since January 2015, Lithuania is the latest country to join the exclusive “Euro Club”, the elite domain of 19 of the 28 European Union member states who have, for better or worse, given the control of their national monetary policy over to the European Central Bank and share a single currency.
The coin itself is a beaut. Well, at least 50% a beaut, as the reverse side has the same ho-hum design (with very minor variations) as every other Euro coin on the planet. Making up for the back side, the obverse bears a dynamic image of the Lithuanian national emblem Vytis, surrounded by 12 stars against the background of horizontal lines.
Vytis, you will remember, is the knight from the Lithuanian coat of arms.(link) and has been used on Lithuanian coinage since the end of the 14th century. In this version, the knight seems to be bursting from the confines of its circle and into the starry ring of the Eurozone.
The Euro replaces the “Litas” which Lithuania introduced in 1922 but removed from circulation in 1941 when the country began to use the Soviet Ruble. The Ruble in turn was abandoned at the collapse of the Soviet Union for the “Talonas” which were used from 1991 to 1993 when the “Litas” returned to circulation.
Antanas Žukauskas is the designer of the Lithuanian Euro coin and each coin has the mark LMK of the Lithuanian Mint House (Lietuvos Monetų Kalykla) on the lower left side.