header Notes Collection

20 Latu 1925, Latvia

in Krause book Number: 17а
Years of issue: 30.01.1926 - 25.03.1941
Edition: 1 000 000
Signatures: Padomes priekšsēdētājs: Ringolds Kalnings (in office 1922-1927), Galvenais direktors: Edgars Švēde
Serie: Latvijas Bankas
Specimen of: 1925
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 135 х 75
Printer: Waterlow and Sons Limited, London

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

20 Latu 1925




20 Latu 1925

Jānis Čakste

The engraving on banknote is, probably, made after this photo of Jānis Čakste, made in Riga in 1926.

Jānis Čakste was the President of the Republic of Latvia within a period from 1922 to 1927. He was the first President of the Republic of Latvia and his task was to represent the new Latvian state. Čakste was aware that the president of the democratic and small state must not play up the ceremony with a pretentious theatrics in order not to become a comedian and also should not represent own Republic with the lowered head, simple manners and the lack of self-confidence, because then he and his state would not be respected either by fellow countrymen or foreign representatives, and the contemporaries gave evidence to the fact that he had managed to find the golden mean.

Born on 14 September 1859 in Čakstu-Zirņu house of Lielsesava parish, Jelgava district. Received the basic education in Anna Elementary School, continued his education in Kurzeme province grammar school in Jelgava and graduated it in 1882. Just the same year he entered the Moscow University, Law Department, which he graduated from in 1886. During a period of studies, he established Latvian Students Association in Moscow and arranged Moscow Latvians’ parties.

He worked as the secretary of Kurzeme province public prosecutor’ office, in 1888 – as an advocate in Jelgava. In 1887 he became the Head of Jelgava Latvian Society, took an active part working at the Committee of Jelgava Agriculture Academy, Kurzeme Bee-keepers Association and the Latvian Red Cross, drawing up the articles of association of new associations as the lawyer. Since 1889, he held the office of editor the most popular newspaper in Kurzeme “Tēvija” (“Motherland”). In 1895, he was one of the main organizers of IV All-Latvian Song Festival in Jelgava. He partially financed this event as well. In 1905, he took part in the development of the Latvia’s autonomy project.

In 1906, he was elected at the Russian Lower Chamber (State Duma). After its dissolution J.Čakste signed the so-called Vyborg Manifesto in Finland together with other 166 deputies, calling the citizens not to pay taxes and ignore the existing conscription procedure until the City Council was convened, for which he was imprisoned for three months. In 1915, J.Čakste moved to Tartu, where he took part in establishing the Central committee of Latvian refugees, in 1917 he became the Chairman of the committee. In 1917 he set out to the USA in order to propagate the idea of independence of Latvia; he wrote the pamphlet in Stockholm "Die Letten und ihre Latvia: Eine lettische Stimme" ("The Latvians and Their Latvia: What is the Latvian’s Voice ").

In 1918, J.Čakste was elected as the Chairman of the Presidium of People’ Council, organized the Latvian Diplomatic corps, headed the Latvian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, which requested to recognize the independence of Latvia. In 1919, he returned to Latvia. Pursuant to the resolution of the Constituent Assembly and the Latvian State System Transitional Provisions (Provisional Regulations) J.Čakste was entrusted to perform the obligations of the State President and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Army. From 1920 to 1921, he was a Professor of the International law of the University of Latvia.

On 7 November 1922 after the adoption of the Constitution, the first meeting of Parliament (Saeima) took place and official elections of the State President of the Republic of Latvia took place on 14 November 1922. Jānis Čakste was elected at the second round by 92 votes and 6 votes abstained. At this time, Čakste had been already the head of the Democratic centre. At the age of 63, Čakste was elected to hold the post of the State President. His task was representation of the new Latvian state. Čakste was aware that a president of the democratic and small state should not play up the ceremony with pretentious theatrics in order not to become a comedian and also should not represent own Republic with the lowered head, simple manners and the lack of self-confidence, because then he and his state would not be respected either by fellow countrymen or foreign representatives, and the contemporaries gave evidence to the fact that he had managed to find the golden mean.

On 6 November 1925, at the next presidency elections, three candidates were nominated already: the social democrat Rainis, K.Ulmanis from the Farmers’ Union, and Jānis Čakste from the Democratic centre. At the first voting with one vote abstained, they received 33, 32 and 29 votes respectively. Then the Social democratic fraction withdrew Rainis from the candidate pool. At the second round with tree votes abstained, Čakste got 60 votes, but Ulmanis got 31 vote.

During a period of his presidency, from 14 November 1922 to 14 March 1927, Jānis Čakste signed and promulgated 402 laws adopted by Saeima, he returned three laws for reconsideration. Pursuant to the rights granted by the Constitution, he pardoned 549 inmates and only once he received the public censure, when he had amnestied and released from jail Andrievs Niedre convicted for high treason, although banished him to live in exile, in April 1926. During the presidency of Čakste, the Latvian government changed seven times and it was he, who nominated the most appropriate politicians to compile the Cabinet of Ministers.

Čakste paid very much attention to foreign affairs. He requested that Latvian ambassadors first of all would come with their reports to him after returning from abroad rather than to the Minister for foreign affairs; he carefully studied the information received himself and even suggested particular candidates to hold the office of ambassador sometimes, as well as tried to achieve that the most appropriate and enabling officials world work at the diplomatic corps.

During the period of presidency, he paid two state visits. On 23-25 February 1925, Jānis Čakste met with the State President of Estonia Juri Jaakson in Tallinn. The same year in Maya visit was repaid to Riga, although the two states did not sign any agreement at the end of negotiations; the visits noticeable dissipated the issue on the borders by the reason of tension arisen between the two nations. On 15-16 May 1926, Čakste paid the state visit to Finland, where he met with the State President of Finland Lauri Relander in Helsinki. The return visit in Latvia was paid in the same year on 21-24 June.

Čakste’s contemporaries characterized him to be an extremely active, loyal, and patriotic politician, a distinguished diplomat, peaceful, erudite and a caring human being. Čakste paid much attention to the youth, especially supported Boy Scout organization, actually took care of the welfare of warriors, followed the structure and needs of the army. Jānis Čakste was not a partisan; he considered corruption and the introduction of the ethos of clique in the social life to be the biggest challenge of the society.

Čakste still lively accepted the New Year wishes on 1 January 1927, and he died at the age of 68 on 14 March 1927. Around 150 thousand persons attended Jānis Čakste’s funeral; his grave in Meža Cemetery became the symbolic Latvian link with the past and the area of patriotic demonstration. (

Inscription, centered: "Pret so naudas zīme latvijas banka izsniedz 5,80645 gramus zelta. Naudas zīmes nodrošinātas to pilnā nominālvērtībā".

In English: "Against this banknote, the Bank of Latvia issues 5,80645 grams of gold. Banknotes can be exchanged at their full face value."

Denominations in numeral and in words are centered. In numerals in all corners.


20 Latu 1925

coat coat

The image of the golden rising sun with 11 wide wavy rays, between which there were 10 narrow wavy rays, was also placed in the azure upper half of the shield of the State Emblem of the Republic of Latvia, approved on June 16, 1921 by the Constitutional (Constituent) Assembly of Latvia, the draft of which was created by the returnee from Petrograd by the graphic artist Rihards Germanovich Zariņš, together with Vilis Krūmiņš, (the artist himself signed "Zarrinsh" in Russian, Rihards Zariņš, 1869-1939), who until 1917 held the position of technical and artistic director of the Expedition of Preparing State Papers (EZGB ) Of the Russian Empire and the Provisional Government (according to his projects, banknotes and postage stamps of the All-Russian Provisional Government were issued in 1905-1917).

The lower half of the shield of the Latvian coat of arms was cut, in the right silver field was depicted a wormy rebellious lion from the historical coat of arms of Courland and Semigale, symbolizing Kurzeme and Zemgale, and a silver griffin from the historical coat of arms of Livonia, symbolizing Vidzeme and Latgale.

Above the shield, three golden five-pointed stars were depicted in an arc of a circle, touching each other with two rays, symbolizing the unity of the three historical parts of Latvia - Kurzeme and Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale. ( .ru)

The inscription under the coat of arms: "Par latvijas bankas naudas Zimju viltosanu, vai viltotu zimju uzglabasanu un izplatisanu vainigos sodis saskana ar sodu likumiem".

In English: "Penalty for counterfating of Latvian money, or for the storage and distribution of counterfeit goods, is due in accordance with laws".

Denominations in numerals are on the right and left sides. Above the coat of arms in words.


Designer: Vilis Krūmiņš.

I became interested in the question - "Why is the State Treasury (Latvijas valsts kases zime) designated by the issuer on the 10 Lat banknotes, and the Bank of Latvia (Latvijas Bankas) is the issuer on other banknotes?"

I had to start translating the article - in the article the answer to the above question !, in Latvian, I apologize for possible translation errors.

In addition, I, unexpectedly, went to the digitized archive of Latvian periodicals, where I found an article from the Russian-language newspaper Vechernee Vremya, dated November 24, 1924, just on the topic.

Though, here what I got, finally:

"The Bank of Latvia had a monopoly right in its charters to issue banknotes, but, in general, state money had two owners - the Bank of Latvia and the Ministry of Finance (Credit Office). Such relations also formed the monetary system of the Republic of Latvia, which began with the birth of Latvia ruble in the spring of 1919 and finally was continued by the formation of the document "Law on Treasury Obligations" dated November 14, 1924. In Latvia, there were two kinds of money in circulation, but politicians and economists did not agree with the practicality of "dualism".

Firstly, Treasury bills in rubles were in circulation, which at that time were issued on the basis of the permission of the Constitutional Assembly.

2420 million rubles (at the rate of 48.4 million lats), of which 500 rubles banknotes - about 38 million lats. They represented goods and services and were printed to cover them with all national values. This was confirmed by the country, in the person of the Treasury Manager and the Minister of Finance (signatures on banknotes). This money was covered by government reserves of about 70% at face value.

Secondly, Bank of Latvia banknotes were in circulation and in lats - 22.3 million, LVL 26.0 million were issued in value (other banknotes were at the Bank of Latvia cash desk, for various expenses). They were fully provided with gold and foreign currency, confirming the creditworthiness of Latvia.

Coins - bronze, nickel and silver - were also in circulation. On November 1, 1924, bronze money was in circulation - about 0.5 million lats, nickel money - about 2.2 million lats, and silver money - about 8.5 million lats.

Such monetary dualism had both supporters and opponents. On November 14, 1924, the Sejm discussed the bills submitted. One of them - "The State Law on the Removal of Treasury Bills" - was prepared by Minister Ringold Kalnings. The second was prepared by the Seimas financial commission. In the meantime, Kalnings was not the Minister of Finance (09/10/1922-26.01.1924), and three ministers - A. Riekstins, A. Bushevičs and H. Punga succeeded each other in this post, and a draft was prepared for the withdrawal of rubles, supporting their gold coverage by the Ministry of Finance, but entrusting the Bank of Latvia with the storage of gold.

Ringold Kalnings

R. Kalnings, after returning to the post of minister, in January 1924, transferred him to the Sejm. A new project was submitted to the Finance Committee, which rejected it. Both of these projects were considered at a plenary session of the Seimas on November 14, 1924.

Mr. Kalnings’s project was based on the cautious notion that the parliamentary system would not be able to guarantee treasury guarantees if, at the populist demands and without taking into account economic circumstances, increase the issue of promissory notes at any time, thereby contributing to inflation. In connection with this threat, R. Kalnings demanded the removal of treasury bills from circulation.

This proposal was based on the principle that there should be one money regulator, an institution that can issue banknotes that can be exchanged for gold at any time. All national gold must be made available to the Bank of Latvia. It can be used only for banking operations, in accordance with the Charter of the Bank, and not separately, in the interests of some political groups. Although R. Kalnings was the Chairman of the Bank of Latvia Council at that time, this bill was not discussed in the Bank Council, therefore it should be taken into account that it was a project of the Ministry of Finance, but the fact that in the summer of 1924 a draft prepared by the Bank of Latvia Council for issuing banknotes in LVL 20 and 25 received a veto from Treasury Secretary R. Kalnings, confirming Kalnings' uncertainty about his success. This is also confirmed by his cooperation with A. Karklins, who at that time was an employee of the credit department of the Ministry of Finance.

It is possible that A. Klive for a long time was disappointed with the role of the remote observer assigned to him when deciding on this nationally important issue. A. Karklins supported the Sejm decision on the preservation of treasury bills and the state gold fund, also referring to the interests of national defense.

This bill was rejected by the Saeima financial commission, mainly because of the proposal to transfer state gold to the Bank of Latvia. The Finance Commission believed that the gold fund is a reserve for "very important and very urgent national needs." Therefore, the strategic reserve must be at the disposal of the government, which reports to the Seimas. The majority of the Finance Commission opposed the Bill R. Kalnings. Thus, the national monetary system was formed mainly by political rather than economic calculation. The diet will retain control over the accumulated gold reserves from the second half of 1921 until the first half of 1923. Therefore, indirect data lead to the conclusion that there was a dual currency system in Latvia - with two gold funds - the state and the Bank of Latvia.

But, first of all, it was necessary to take the country's strategic needs very seriously, namely, to finance defense.

From the Seimas rostrum, R. Kalnings was criticized by Peteris Bernis, deputy of the Saeima Democratic Center and non-partisan faction of public workers of the Latvian Social Democratic Party, member of the Sejm faction Voldemar Bastianis and member of his party, Julius Kelms, who, by the way, replaced R. three years later Kalnings as Chairman of the Council of the Bank of Latvia. Frankly or vaguely, they expressed the view that Latvia was not mature enough to transfer the state monetary policy only to the Bank of Latvia. Gold, in their opinion, was a strategic security key for Latvia, which should be controlled by the political elite.

R. Kalnings' Law on the Removal of Treasury Bills from Circulation, Article 1 of the draft, received the support of only 24 deputies, so the draft was not discussed and was considered rejected. The majority of the Sejm supported the preservation of treasury bills, and in the afternoon, November 14, 1924, with 49 votes in favor and 12 against, without abstention, the Law on Treasury Bills was adopted (published in the government newspaper on November 24), which indicated that "treasury bills issued in rubles should be withdrawn from circulation, and new ones issued in return.

Promissory notes in lats must have the following denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 Lats. The total amount of treasury bills in circulation cannot exceed forty eight million lats, and the state is responsible for all issued money. To ensure the rate of issued treasury bills, that is, financial stability, the state invests gold in the Bank of Latvia as a state contribution to a special fund equal to at least a quarter of the outstanding amounts of the total nominal value of treasury bills."

Thus, a double currency system was supported in Latvia: the Ministry of Finance controlled treasury bills (paper and metal), but the Bank of Latvia also issued banknotes. In particular, banknotes and treasury bills, incl. coins - emission stages are reflected in the systematic studies of Latvian financial historians.

The Bank of Latvia issued bank notes in denominations of 20, 25, 50, 100 and 500 Lats and treasury bills of 5, 10 and 20 Lat. Also coins are 1, 2 and 5 Lats in silver, 1, 2 and 5 centimes in bronze and nickel coins of 10, 20 and 50 centimes.

The banknotes of the two issuers differed mainly in face value (treasury bills were issued in small paper notes and metal coins and served mainly as working currency on a daily basis). In order to prevent inflation, money turnover in Latvia was not subsequently increased.

Banknotes of the Bank of Latvia were covered only with available funds provided for in the Bank Charter. The circulation of issued banknotes was relatively small, and the Bank of Latvia did not present difficulties in ensuring security. The largest number of foreign reserves was in 1928 (LVL 81.5 million), the share of gold in foreign reserves increased significantly during the first 10 years of operation of the Bank of Latvia. In turn, the actual issue did not reach the potential issue in any year.

The Bank of Latvia, although the Charter provides that banknotes could be issued if their amount does not exceed LVL 100 million, secured by gold or in safe foreign currency in the amount of at least 50% of the amount, allowed the use of short-term bills, following the principle that all issued banknotes must be fully covered in gold or safe foreign currency.

Even during the global economic crisis, when foreign exchange reserves were significantly depleted, the provision in lats more than doubled the requirements of the law. Also, in international relations, the government has always been able to maintain the officially declared value of lats. The most difficult period began after September 21, 1931, when the world, torn by the economic crisis, refused to peg national currencies to gold and allowed them to fall, Latvia did not follow this example. Although, on October 8, 1931, the “Regulation on Currency Transactions”, published by the Cabinet of Ministers, in accordance with Article 81 of the Constitution, was repealed.

It talked about exchanging banknotes for gold. On this, formally, the Golden Lats ended, although the exchange rate of the Golden Lats continued for another five years.

In order to prevent a sharp reduction in the Bank of Latvia's foreign exchange reserves due to increased demand for foreign currency, the state suspended the free circulation of banknotes in lats.

Foreign currency trading was established as a state monopoly and transferred to the Bank of Latvia." ( (