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50 Litų 1928, Lithuania

in Krause book Number: 24a
Years of issue: 31.03.1928
Signatures: V. Jurgutis, J. Paknys, Julius Kaupas, Z. Starkus, P. Grajauskas
Serie: 1927 - 1930 Issue
Specimen of: 1928
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 145 x 80
Printer: Bradbury, Wilkinson & Company Limited, New Malden

* 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.

50 Litų 1928



Gedeminne watermark

The engraving of watermark portrait is made after the image by Alexander Guagnini (1538-1614) from Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio, published in 1578.

Gediminas (c. 1275 – December 1341) was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1315 or 1316 until his death. He is credited with founding this political entity and expanding its territory which, at the time of his death, spanned the area ranging from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Also seen as one of the most significant individuals in early Lithuanian history, he was responsible for both building Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and establishing a dynasty that later came to rule other European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Bohemia.

As part of his legacy, he gained a reputation for being a champion of paganism, who successfully diverted attempts to Christianize his country by skillful negotiations with the Pope and other Christian rulers.


Gediminas was born in about 1275. Because written sources of the era are scarce, Gediminas' ancestry, early life, and assumption of the title of Grand Duke in ca. 1316 are obscure and continue to be the subject of scholarly debate. Various theories have claimed that Gediminas was either his predecessor Grand Duke Vytenis' son, his brother, his cousin, or his hostler. For several centuries only two versions of his origins circulated. Chronicles — written long after Gediminas' death by the Teutonic Knights, a long-standing enemy of Lithuania - claimed that Gediminas was a hostler to Vytenis; according to these chronicles, Gediminas killed his master and assumed the throne. Another version introduced in the Lithuanian Chronicles, which also appeared long after Gediminas' death, proclaimed that Gediminas was Vytenis' son. However, the two men were almost the same age, making this relationship unlikely.


Recent research indicates that Gediminias' ancestor may have been Skalmantas. In 1974 historian Jerzy Ochmański noted that Zadonshchina, a poem from the end of the 14th century, contains a line in which two sons of Algirdas name their ancestors: "We are two brothers - sons of Algirdas, and grandsons of Gediminas, and great-grandsons of Skalmantas." This discovery led to the belief that Skalmantas was the long-sought ancestor of the Gediminids. Ochmański posited that the poem skipped the generation represented by Butvydas, and jumped back to the unknown ancestor. Baranauskas disagrees, believing Skalmantas was Butvydas' brother rather than his father, and that Vytenis and Gediminas were therefore cousins.

Gediminas became the Grand Duke in 1316 at the age of 40 and ruled for 25 years.


50 Litų 1928

basanavicius basanavicius basanavicius

On left side is the portrait of Jonas Basanavičius.

Jonas Basanavičius (Polish: Jan Basanowicz; 23 November 1851 – 16 February 1927) was an activist and proponent of the Lithuanian National Revival. He participated in every major event leading to the independent Lithuanian state and is often given the informal honorific title of the "Patriarch of the Nation" (Lithuanian: tautos patriarchas) for his contributions.

Born to a family of farmers, Basanavičius was to become a priest but instead chose to study medicine at the Moscow Medical Academy. He worked as a doctor from 1880 to 1905 in the Principality of Bulgaria. Despite the long distance, he dedicated substantial effort to the Lithuanian cultural work. He founded the first Lithuanian-language newspaper Aušra (1883), contributed articles on Lithuania to the press, collected samples of Lithuanian folklore (songs, fairy-tales, legends, riddles, etc.) and published them. He was also involved with local Bulgarian politics.

basanavicius basanavicius

Returned to Lithuania in 1905 and immediately joined Lithuanian cultural life. He became chairman of the organizing committee of the 1905 Great Seimas of Vilnius. In 1907, he founded the Lithuanian Scientific Society, a learned society dedicated to Lithuanian history, ethnography, linguistics. Basanavičius became chairman of the society and dedicated the rest of his life to its affairs. In 1917, he was elected by the Vilnius Conference to the Council of Lithuania. He chaired the council's session that adopted the Act of Independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918 and was the first to sign it. In the aftermath of World War I, Vilnius changed hands and regimes several times, but Basanavičius refused to leave safeguarding city's museums, libraries, archives and continuing his lifelong research of Lithuanian cultural matters. After Żeligowski's Mutiny in October 1920, Vilnius became part of Poland and Lithuanian activities were censored and limited.

basanavicius basanavicius

Basanavičius' continued presence in the city became a symbol of Lithuanian claims to the bitterly contested Vilnius Region. When he died in 1927, the Lithuanian government declared a five-day mourning period.

100 Litu 1928

On the perimeter of the banknote is a ribbon with Lithuanian folk patterns.

Denominations in numerals are in top and lower right corners, also centered. Centered in words.


50 Litų 1928

Katedros aikštėKatedros aikštė

The reverse of the banknote is the Vilnius Cathedral and the Gediminas Tower, in the background.

It is logical - J. Basanavičius lived in Vilnius, even when city was ruled by Poles and he became a symbol of this city. On the other hand, Vilnius, as the occupied eternal capital of Lithuania, was one of the most important symbols of interwar Lithuania, used in various forms of public life.

bazilika bazilika

The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika, Polish: Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława Biskupa i św. Władysława) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. Dedicated to Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, the church is the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania.

The coronations of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania took place within its confines. Inside its crypts and catacombs are buried many famous people from Lithuanian and Polish history including Vytautas (1430), his wife Anna (1418), his brother Sigismund (Žygimantas) (1440), his cousin Švitrigaila (1452), Saint Casimir (1484), Alexander Jagiellon (1506), and two wives of Sigismund II Augustus: Elisabeth of Habsburg (1545) and Barbara Radziwiłł (1551). The heart of the Polish king Władysław IV Vasa was buried there upon his death, although the rest of his body is buried at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.

Inside, there are more than forty works of art dating from the XVI through XIX centuries, including frescoes and paintings of various sizes. During the restoration of the Cathedral, the altars of a presumed pagan temple and the original floor, laid during the reign of King Mindaugas, were uncovered. In addition, the remains of the cathedral built in 1387 were also located. A fresco dating from the end of the XIV century, the oldest known fresco in Lithuania, was found on the wall of one of the cathedral's underground chapels.

During the Soviet regime initially the cathedral was converted into a warehouse. Masses were celebrated again starting in 1988, although the cathedral was still officially called "The Gallery of Images" at that time. In 1989, its status as a cathedral was restored.

It is believed that in pre-Christian times, the Baltic pagan god Perkūnas was worshiped at the site of the cathedral. It has also been postulated that the Lithuanian King Mindaugas ordered the construction of the original cathedral in 1251 after his conversion to Christianity and appointment of a bishop to Lithuania. Remains of the archaic quadratic church with three naves and massive buttresses have been discovered underneath the current structure in the late 20th century. After Mindaugas's death in 1263, the first cathedral again became a place of pagan worship.

In 1387, the year in which Lithuania was officially converted to Christianity, construction began on a second Gothic Cathedral with five chapels. This second cathedral, however, burnt down in 1419. During preparations for his 1429 coronation as King of Lithuania, Vytautas built a significantly larger Gothic Cathedral in its place. Although the coronation never took place, the walls and pillars of this third Cathedral have survived to this day. The third Cathedral had three naves and four circular towers at its corners, and Flemish traveler Guillebert de Lannoy noticed its similarity to Frauenburg Cathedral. In 1522, the Cathedral was renovated, and a bell tower was built on top of the Lower Castle defensive tower. After another fire in 1530, it was rebuilt again and between 1534 - 1557 more chapels and the crypts were added. The Cathedral acquired architectural features associated with the Renaissance.

In 1529, the Crown Prince and future King of Poland, Sigismund II Augustus, was crowned Grand Duke of Lithuania in the Cathedral. After yet another fire in 1610, the Cathedral was rebuilt again, and the two front towers were added. The Cathedral was damaged again in 1655 when Vilnius fell to Russian troops in the Russo-Polish War of 1654–1667. It was renovated and redecorated several more times.

Between 1623 - 1636, at the initiative of Sigismund III Vasa and later completed by his son Wladyslaw IV Vasa, the Baroque style Saint Casimir chapel by royal architect Constantino Tencalla was built of Swedish sandstone. Its interior was reconstructed in 1691-1692 and decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo Palloni, the altar and stuccowork by Pietro Perti. This chapel contains sculpted statutes of Jagiellon kings and an epitaph with Wladyslaw IV Vasa's heart. More than anything in the Cathedral this chapel symbolizes the glory of Polish-Lithuanian union and common history.

In 1769 the southern tower, built during the reconstruction of 1666 collapsed, destroying the vaults of the neighbouring chapel and killing 6 people. After the damage, Bishop of Vilnius Ignacy Jakub Massalski ordered the reconstruction of the Cathedral. The works started in 1779 and were completed in 1783, and the interior was completed in 1801. The Cathedral was reconstructed to its present appearance according to the design of Laurynas Gucevičius in the Neoclassical style; the church acquired a strict quadrangular shape common to local public buildings.


The main facade was adorned with sculptures of the Four Evangelists by Italian sculptor Tommaso Righi. Some scholars point to the architectural resemblance of the cathedral to the works of Andrea Palladio or see the influence of Gucevičius's tutor Claude Nicolas Ledoux. The influence of Palladian architecture is evident in side facades of the building. The lack of 'purity' of the Classical architecture, due to incorporation of Baroque style sculptures and other elements, was later criticized by academical architects, notably Karol Podczaszyński.

Between 1786 and 1792 three sculptures by Kazimierz Jelski were placed on roof of the Cathedral - Saint Casimir on the south side, Saint Stanislaus on the north, and Saint Helena in the centre. These sculptures were removed in 1950 and restored in 1997. Presumably the sculpture of St. Casimir originally symbolized Lithuania, that of St. Stanislaus symbolized Poland, and that of St. Helena holding the cross represents the true cross.

In 2002 work officially began to rebuild the Royal Palace of Lithuania behind the Cathedral. The newly erected palace building will considerably alter the context of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral and the belfry were thoroughly renovated from 2006 to 2008. The facades were covered with fresh multicolor paintwork, greatly enhancing the external appearance of the buildings. It was the first renovation since the restoration of Lithuania's independence in 1990.

Left of Cathedral is Gediminas' Tower visible.

Denominations in numerals are repeated 3 times. Centered, at bottom, in words.


Designer: Adomas Galdikas.

In 1927 -1930, in Lithuania, were issued new banknotes. New 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Litas banknotes were printed in a "Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd." A new type of banknote designs were created by famous painters: A. Galdikas, A. and V. Jomantas Žmuidzinavičius. The money represents the state, reflects the ideology of the latter, so the young Republic of Lithuania marked banknotes The National symbols of Dukes and public figures, portraits and images of major cities and coats of arms. Banknotes were portrayed the symbols that represent the spirit of the nation and national identity - the sower, Spinner, rafter, Lietuvaitė (Lithuanian) national costumes, Lithuanian folk art ornaments, small folk architecture, fabric patterns and stripes motifs. The projects of banknotes were considered and approved by the General Council of the Bank of Lithuania.

basanavicius basanavicius

Jonas Basanavičius was depicted on a silver coin of Lithuania - 5 Litai 1936. This coin I have in my collection.