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500 Latu 1929, Latvia

in Krause book Number: 19a
Years of issue: 20.12.1929 - 25.03.1941
Edition: 100 000, in circulation - 68 000
Signatures: Padomes priekšsēdētājs: Jūlijs Augusts Celms, Galvenais Direktors: Kārlis Vanags
Serie: Latvijas Bankas
Specimen of: 1929
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 190 х 104
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.

500 Latu 1929




Latvian girl in national costume and headdress Vainags of the Nica region, Liepaja district, Southern Kurzeme.


500 Latu 1929


The engraving of the girl (on the right), on the banknote, is made after Zelma Brauere.

The prototype of the girls in folk costume became a senior proofreader of the Latvian State Securities Printing House Zelma Brauere (1900-1977), which youth, beauty and warmth attracted Richard Zariņš, when he was 50 years old. Image of Zelma Brauere in various forms is on the drawings, created by him, on banknotes in denominations of 10 and 20 Latu issued in 1930s, 500 Latu, issued in 1992-2014 and the coins 5 Lati 1929-1932 and 1 and 2 Euro.

"One of the most striking images in Latvian folk songs - tautumeita ("woman of the people"), which appears bright like snow, and illuminates everything that is near," - describes the Bank of Latvia the woman, whose image today adorns the Latvian euro coins.

How and who was immortalized on the Latvian coins and banknotes?

It happened in the back, in the days of the First Republic - the image of the so-called Milda decorated silver 5 Lati coin.

Once in 1918 Latvia became independent, there was talk in the community about all the possible variants of the name of the national currency. There have been proposals to name the money "oaks" and "acorns", "sun" and "austra", "Ligo" and "Daile", "large" and "small" (ozoli, zīles, saule, austra, līga, daile, dižā, sīkā). The term "Lat" was heavily criticized.

The last word on this issue belonged to the head of the Cabinet - Siegfried Meierovics, that on August 3, 1922 decided, that the money will be named Latvian Lats and Santims.

But Milda had to wait another seven years before, as long as her picture finally placed on silver coin. At the time, the Ministry of Finance has decided that the Latvian money should be decorated with the "face of the Virgin", symbolizing freedom. By the way, the image of the native girl began to call by people Milda purely by analogy with one of the most common female names in Latvia.

The Academy of Arts was launching a competition in which it was necessary to find the image of "virgin". The competition won Karlis Zemdega. But the version of Zemdega was not taken, as his work criticized by the Ministry of Finance, stating that "tautumeita need to be not only well drawn from a technical point of view, but also symbolize the Latvian national image".

As a result, the work by Karlis Zemdega was corrected by 50-year-old publisher Rihards Zariņš. And as the model he chose was the 29-year-old Zelma Brauere, worked as a proofreader. Zelma was a graduate of philology and spoke fluent in seven languages.


Correcting the image of Zemdega, Zariņš also gave the face a little Zelma's prominent charming smile, like the Mona Lisa's face ... And "tautumeita" immediately became to radiate femininity and kindness.

Zelma had a difficult fate. In 1935, at the Krustpils airport, in accident, died her fiance, the pilot, after which she never been married. All her life she lived in Pardaugava, in a wooden house on the street Maza Nometnju, 59. The house is preserved until now. Tragically died in 1977 - she was knocked by motorcyclist. She was buried in the Lachupes cemetery in folk costume - in same, as she depicted on the famous 5 Lati coin.

Here is a video on the topic, in English, the duration is 4 and a half minutes.

Nica Nica

Now - about the Zelma Braueres costume on this banknote. She is in the costume of the Nīca municipality (Nīcas novada), Liepaja district, Southern Kurzeme.

Kurzeme or Kursa is a cultural-historical region in the western part of Latvia. Folk costumes of the Kurzeme region were a common occurrence in the territory previously inhabited by Kurds and Livs.

Thanks to active maritime relations, at the end of the 19th century non-traditional materials came to Latvia - ribbons, pearls, silk and velvet fabrics brought from abroad, were widely used in costume designs. However, in some parts of Kurzeme very archaic, even centuries-old items of women's clothing have been preserved.

The festive costumes of the Nitsavsky region are peculiar, differ from other regions and are very richly decorated.


The brooch on the shoulder of Zelma is a sakta. In Nīca, Barth, and Rucava (Liepaja district) it is customary to wear “humpback” saktas, that is, on a larger sakt, smaller saktas and a silk ribbon are worn on top.

The most common item of national jewelry was a brooch or pin (Sakta). She was used to support the Sagshi (capes). Sagshes of the Nīca municipality were white with a wide, ornamented strip along one of the edges and narrower stripes at the ends. The ornament was embroidered with colored threads, covering the base of the strip with red threads. The sagsha was put on, taking her armpit and fastening the sakts on the right shoulder. Sakts usually laid several pieces of various sizes, one on top of the other, and tied with a red woolen thread.

Sakta should never have overshadowed the decorations of a previous sakta. Ornaments were family heirlooms that were passed down from generation to generation. As one would expect, the more jewelry worn with a folk costume, the richer the owner was.

Kurzeme women demonstrated their wealth with many beautifully decorated woolen wraps, dressing up to three at a time, the most luxurious - on top.

Nica Nica Nica

Shirts were sewn from thin white linen fabric. The turn-down collar was decorated with patterns. Stitched shoulders and cuffs were embroidered with satin stitch. Patterns were embroidered with white and black threads. At the neck, a shirt was fastened with a small silver buckle.

On top of the shirts they put on a sleeveless jacket - “niebur”, sewn from white patterned linen fabric. Its length is slightly below the waist. Niebur was sewn with small pleats - “mudras” on the sides and very richly decorated with dark blue woolen threads. In the winter, both girls and married women wore gray or green woolen sweaters with velvet ribbons sewn on.

The material for the skirts was woven bright red, with narrow yellow, green and blue stripes or individual colored elements of the ornament connected into stripes. The skirts were very wide, pleated and sewn to a belt of the same fabric. To make the wide round folds of the skirt fall better, a cord was sewn to the lower edge.

The headdress of the girls consisted of a tall, very richly decorated wreath. It was decorated with silver brocade ribbons, colored glass straws and beads. Large ribbed glass beads were sewn to the upper edge of the wreath.

Married women wore a monochromatic silk hat - a “cepure”, to the front edge of which a flowery silk ribbon and white lace were sewn.

They wore white stockings knitted with a rich openwork pattern.

Metal belts, locks, as well as leather belts with metal buckles are characteristic of the Kurzeme men's suit. Alsung County's skirt is called bangles. The men's cap in Kurzeme - a black high hat - is called a "stroller." It is often adorned with a “feather” - a string of pearl jewelry.

Kurzeme costumes show typical Latvian clothing trends in the second half of the XIX century. ( .lat) (

Vainags Vainags

On the head of Zelma is Vainags (wreath) of the Nīca municipality (Nīcas novada).

Related article:

“We decided to create a real Nitsa crown, without synthetic fabrics and plastic beads. After carefully studying several collections of Latvian museums and researching materials of R. Zarins. Together with the craftsman Maris Krivins, we created the Nitsa crown, including 64 real freshwater (river) pearls.

Vainags Vainags Vainags

In the 18th century, natural pearls were found in Latvian rivers. Academician Mikhail Lomonosov, evaluating the natural pearls of the Latvian rivers, wrote to Empress Elizabeth: “Pearls are similar to Czech pearls, because they are whiter than eastern pearls, more silver in color.”

Nitsa’s wreath includes: 45 crystals from the Schöbel workshop (Bavaria), uses high-quality Toho glass beads, natural silk, brocade and 100% Latvian wool dyed only in natural colors. Crown weight 400 gr. Proportions and color tones - 100% match the original of the museum." ( .lat)


The crown ornament is embroidered on a red base with dark and translucent glass beads, glittering sparkles and pearl beads. 2.5 cm sewn along the bottom and back of the crown. wide silver-gold ribbon. A string of transparent, & edged beads sewn along the top. Wreath lining in red, patterned & fabric. Rubber sewn along the bottom of the crown. Object-history-note The folk costume of Nica County belonged to Milda Stewart (1914 - 2008). He went to Germany as a refugee in 1944, and lived in Zelingen until 2002. Collected humanitarian aid for Aizkraukle. After returning to Latvia in 2002, he spent the rest of his life in Berģi nursing home. ( .lat)

Portrait framed by olive branches.

Below are the symbols of industry, agriculture, crafts and trade.

More specifically, visible: vegetables, fruits, a sheaf of hay, grain, mites, a hammer, gear, box .....

coat coat

Coat of arms is in lower right corner.

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)

In the center and along the edges of the banknote are Latvian folk patterns.

Inscription, centered: "Pret so naudas zīme latvijas banka izsniedz 145,1813 gramus zelta. Naudas zīmes nodrošinātas to pilnā nominālvērtībā".

In English: "Against this banknote, the Bank of Latvia issues 145,1813 grams of gold. Banknotes can be exchanged at their full face value."

Denominations in numerals are in all corners. In words - on top.


500 Latu 1929

On the left, under the face value, a sakta (brooch) is shown, large. About it, please, read the description of the obverse.

Under the sakta, a trident and barrels are visible - as a symbol of the continuity of Latvia with the sea (Poseidon's trident), barrels - sea trade.

Trade or commerce is symbolized by the two staffs of Mercury, located to the right and left of the central image.

Nica Nica Nica

Nica (Latvian: Nīca) is a village in Kurzeme, the center of the Nice Region. Located on the banks of the Bartuva River, 22 km. from Liepaja.

The first mention dates back to 1560. In 1932, Nitsa received the status of a densely populated place (village). In Soviet times, the village was the center of the Nice Village Council of Liepaja district. The central estate of the Nitsa state farm was located in the village.

The village houses the local administration building, high school, children's music school, kindergarten, cultural center, library, tourist information center, hotel, Lutheran and Catholic churches.

Nice has preserved many items containing national ornaments of the XVIII century, as well as the tradition of wearing a national costume (in particular, a red woolen skirt by women). The surviving cage of the 18th century is recognized as an architectural monument of national importance.

From 1889 to 1896, the writer Jekabs Janshevskis worked as a school teacher in the village, and from 1902 to 1905, lawyer Ansis Petrevics.

On the banknote, presumably!, cows are shown, the Brown Latvian breed. On this occasion, please read the article from the newspaper in the comments!

Brown Latvian breed was created by crossing the native cattle of Latvia with bulls of the red Danish and angelic breeds, in conditions of good keeping and nutrition. In 1947, this breed got its name "Brown Latvian breed". Brown Latvian breed is a dairy breed, but in the last year the combined type begins to meet more and more. During the Soviet Union in Latvia, brown Latvian breeds accounted for 99 percent of all cattle kept in that country. This breed has always been one of the symbols of this country. (

The inscription at the bottom: "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".


90 years ago, the steamer "Baltanik" arrived in the port of Riga, which delivered printed 500 lats banknotes by the British company "Bradbury-Wilkinson & Co Ltd" to Riga for the needs of the Bank of Latvia. Previously, the Latvian state had not issued banknotes of such a high value, and to some extent the introduction of 500 lats into circulation concluded the transition from Latvian rubles to lats, similar to what happened after the restoration of independence, when the introduction of the new 500 lats model in 1998 concluded the return to the lats that had begun in 1993 .

The Bank of Latvia discussed the need for higher value banknotes for the convenience of concluding larger transactions as early as the mid-1920s, but in 1927 this idea was postponed because it was decided that for the time being it was possible to get by with 100 lat banknotes. In the summer of 1929, the idea was taken up again.

"Jaunākās Ziņas" informed that the new banknotes, a total of 100 thousand pieces (until the lats were withdrawn from circulation at the end of 1940, about half remained in circulation), were packed in two wooden boxes, which in turn were placed in soldered metal boxes. The obverse of the banknote was purple and featured a woman in the folk costume of Nice. The reverse was in greenish tones and depicted a Latvian farmstead.


There is a version that they are the "Ivāni" of the former Kraukļi parish of Madona county, which English engravers immortalized in a typographical cliché, guided by a photo sent by the deputy director of the Bank of Latvia, Jānis Stalbov. The new banknote was put into circulation on December 20, 1929.

Contemporaries were somewhat confused by the fact that in the drawing of the banknote, mottled cows were grazing in a farmstead, while the Latvian brown one was the most typical in Latvia. (

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.

Please, read here.

Designer: Rihards Zariņš.

Rihards Zariņš

Rihards Zariņš (also Richards Zarriņš or Richard Sarrinsch in German speaking countries; Kocēni, June 27, 1869 - Riga, April 21, 1939) was a prominent Latvian graphic artist.

He was born in Kocēni and grew up in Līgatne and later in Grīva. He pursued his studies in St. Petersburg, where he graduated in 1895 from the Stieglitz Central School for Technical Drawing. He then went on to further studies in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, where he studied lithography, and Paris, where he honed his skills in watercolour and pastels.

He returned to Russia where he was employed by the Russian Imperial Printing Office in St. Petersburg for 20 years, acting as technical director. From 1905 he was in charge of designing state papers. In 1919, he returned to newly independent Latvia where he was appointed director of the government printing house. He held that position for over 14 years and retired at the beginning of 1934. After a stroke, he lost his ability to speak; however, he continued to draw until the last day of his life.

Zariņš was one of the best-known Latvian graphic artists. His first works appeared in the early 1890s on the pages of the then-popular Latvian-language magazine, "Austrums" (The East), when he was still a student at the Stieglitz art school. He dedicated a great amount of time in the study of folk ornamentation, and under his leadership, the state publishers produced a monumental work on Latvian decorative arts.

During his career, the artist designed many stamps of the Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, Belarusian People’s Republic, and Latvia. He is an author of the very first Soviet stamps issued in 1918.

Zariņš was a prolific artist who produced many book illustrations, engravings and lithographs. His oeuvre also contains drawings, water-colour painting, and caricatures. Among his works of applied art are the design of the Latvian coat of arms as well as several designs for bank notes issued by the Printing Office, and several coins of the Latvian lats.