header Notes Collection

20 Latu 1935, Latvia

in Krause book Number: 30а
Years of issue: 02.05.1935 - 25.03.1941
Edition: 1 500 000
Signatures: Finanšu Ministrs: Ludvigs Ēķis, Valsts Saimn. Dep. Direktors: Jānis Skujevics
Serie: Latvijas valsts kases zime
Specimen of: 1935
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 162 х 78
Printer: Valstspapīru spiestuve - Rīga

* 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 1935



Meierovics watermark

The engraving on banknote was made after this photo of Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics.

Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics (5 February [O.S. 24 January] 1887, Durbe – 22 August 1925, near Tukums) was a Latvian politician and diplomat who served as the first Foreign Minister of Latvia from its independence until 1924 and again from December of the same year until his death. He also served two terms as the Prime Minister of Latvia from June, 1921 to January, 1923 and from June 1923 to January, 1924. He was one of the founders of the Latvian Farmers' Union, one of Latvia's oldest political parties.

Meierovics was born into the family of a Jewish doctor and his Latvian wife Anna, who died in childbirth. His father became mentally ill and therefore young Meierovics grew up with his uncle's family in Sabile. He studied at the Riga Polytechnicum.

After 1911 Meierovics belonged to various Latvian organizations, notably the Riga Latvian Society. During World War I he worked in the Latvian Refugee Committee and the organizing committee of the Latvian Riflemen units. After the February Revolution he moved to Riga to work as a professional politician. In September 1917, he attended the Congress of the Peoples of Russia. On 23 October, and again on 11 November 1918, as the representative of Latvian Provisional National Council, he received written confirmation that the United Kingdom acknowledged the de facto statehood of Latvia and National Council as its government. Meierovics became the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia on 19 November 1918, a day after the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed. He was a member of the Latvian Peoples Council, the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia and the 1st Saeima.

On 17 March 1922, Meierovics was awarded the Grand Cross of the Polish Order of Polonia Restituta. On 30 May 1922, he received the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sylvester, 1st Class (Holy See).[2] He was also awarded the Order of the Three Stars, First Class (Latvia), Order of the White Rose (Finland) and Croix de guerre (France).

Other awards included the Order of Lāčplēsis, 3rd class (Latvia) and the Austro-Hungarian Order of the Red Cross.

On 28 September 1910 Meierovics married Anna Fielhold, with whom he had three children, two boys and a girl (Helmuts (1914-1998), Ruta (1916-1999, surname Kose in marriage) and Gunars (1920-2007)). On 18 February 1924 they officially divorced, and on 7 June of the same year he married Kristīne Bakmane.

Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics died in a car accident on 22 August 1925 at the age of 38. The car with the minister, his chauffeur, his ex-wife and his children from the first marriage, departed from Tukums where his first wife's mansion was located, heading for the seaside. About 18 km from Tukums the car accidentally drove off the road and overturned. While other passengers suffered only minor bruises, the minister was apparently crushed by the vehicle, resulting in a broken neck and severed spinal cord. The chauffeur had to run about 2 km. to the nearest living place, but before the doctor arrived, the minister died on the scene. His widow shot herself on 2 December 1925 and is buried next to him.


20 Latu 1935

Denomination s on the right side.

Kokle, the palette and the anchor are on the left side - symbolize the musical art, visual arts and navigation of Latvia.


Kokle or historically kokles (kūkles) is a Latvian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery along with Lithuanian kanklės, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele, and Russian gusli. The first possible kokles related archaeological findings in the territory of modern Latvia are from the XIII century, while the first reliable written information about kokles playing comes from the beginning of the XVII century. The first known kokles tune was notated in 1891, but the first kokles recordings into gramophone records and movies were made in 1930s. Both kokles and kokles playing are included in the Latvian Cultural Canon.

According to Finnish linguist Eino Nieminen, the name of the instrument, along with the names of most of its neighbouring counterparts (Lithuanian kanklės, Finnish kantele, Estonian kannel and Livonian kāndla), possibly comes from the proto-Baltic form *kantlīs/*kantlēs, which originally meant 'the singing tree', ultimately deriving from the Proto-European root *qan- ('to sing, to sound'). However, Lithuanian ethnologist Romualdas Apanavičius believes kokles could be derived from the Proto-European root *gan(dh)-, meaning 'a vessel; a haft (of a sword)', suggesting that it may be related to the Russian word gusli.

The kokles has a hollow trapezoidal body (ķermenis or korpuss) usually carved out of a single piece of wood (vienkocis) that's topped with a thin ornated wooden soundboard (skaņgaldiņš). A distinct feature that sets kokles apart from most of the other string instruments is that the strings don't rest on a bridge, making the sound quieter, but richer in timbre. Wooden (or sometimes metal) tuning pegs (tapas) are set into the wide tip of the body, while at the narrow tip is a metal rod (stīgturis) upon which the strings are secured, giving them a slightly fan-shaped arrangement. The strings may be of brass or steel. Traditionally, there were 6-9 strings which later increased to 10 and more.

kokle Rīgas pils

On banknote is The Riga castle (Rīgas pils).

Riga Castle (Latvian: Rīgas pils) is a castle on the banks of River Daugava in Riga, the capital of Latvia. The castle was founded in 1330. Its structure was thoroughly rebuilt between 1497 and 1515. Upon the castle's seizure by the Swedes, they constructed spacious annexes in 1641. The fortress was continually augmented and reconstructed between the XVII and XIX centuries. Sometime in the 1930s, some renovation work was done by architect Eižens Laube. The Latvian government declared the castle its residence in 1938. Today it is the official residence of the President of Latvia as well as home to several museums.

kokle Rīgas pils

The castle was built on the basis of a treaty between Riga and the Livonian Order - in the XIII century Rigans had rebelled against the Order and demolished its original castle in the centre of the town. Due to constant conflict with Rigans the Order chose to build a new castle beyond the borders of the town rather than to rebuild the original castle. The site occupied by Convent of the Saint Spirit - a hospital and shelter for the poor – was chosen and the convent moved to the location of the original castle. The castle served as the residence of the Master of the Livonian Order, but due to continuous conflicts with Rigans the residence was moved to Castle of Cēsis sometime before the castle was destroyed by Rigans in 1484. The Rigans eventually lost the fight and were forced to rebuild the castle – the restoration was finished in 1515. After the Union of Wilno order ceased to exist in 1561 the Castle became Lithuanian and in 1569 - Polish-Lithuanian stronghold. In 1621. Riga came under Swedish rule and the Castle was used to house Swedish administration.

After the city came under the Russian Empire in the early XVIII century, the castle housed administration and courts of Riga Governorate (which included most of present Latvia and Estonia) and served as residence of Governors General.

Since 1922 the castle became residence of the President of Latvia. After Soviet occupation the castle housed Council of People Commissars of Latvian SSR in 1940-1941. In 1941 the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union moved into northern part of the castle, which therefore became known as the Pioneer Castle. Several museums are housed in the southern part of the castle. After the independence of Latvia was restored the northern part of the Castle again became the residence of the President of Latvia.

The original Castle was a three-floor building which enclosed a rectangular courtyard and had four rectangular towers in its corners. After the Castle was demolished in 1484 it was rebuilt with two towers replaced by round towers following the latest developments of military technologies. The Castle experienced vast development during XVII century when it was almost constantly under construction. In 1682 Arsenal was attached to the castle, it was torn down about one hundred years later, in 1783 to build a court/house.

Inscription, at the bottom: "Valsts kases zīmes nodrošinātas to pilnā nominālvērtībā" or in English "Government treasury bills are accepted at their full face value".


20 Latu 1935

A girl and a man, in national dress, are sitting near the coat of arms of Latvia, surrounded by a wreath of wheat and fruits (a symbol of fertility). Between them, on the ground - a sheaf of ears of wheat and an ax. The peasant holds a scythe.

I got interested in the following questions:

1) Was the image of the girl taken from real woman?

2) Is it possible, according to the visible elements of national clothes, to determine - from which historical region of Latvia designer Rihards Zariņš portrayed this girl and man?

The answer to question number 1:


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.

The answer to question number 2:

With this question I turned to a number of libraries in Latvia (Jelgava, Bauska), as well as to the "Latvian National Center for Culture", Riga, Pils laukums 4.

Most likely, a man on a banknote, is dressed in folk clothes of either the Vidzeme or Kurzeme region.

I am very grateful to Mrs.Linda Rubena, an Expert of traditional culture (applied art) at the Center for National Culture in Riga for the information and photo. She really helped me with the definition of native costume.

Also thanks a lot to Mrs.Ērika Pelcere, Head of the Library of the city of Bauska and local History Museum staff for their assistance.

rockHere's what Linda Rubena wrote to me:

"... On this banknote is unmarried woman, as on her head is a wreath with a interwoven ribbon - such wreaths could wear only unmarried girls. By the wreath it can be assumed, that it is the national costume from the region of Vidzeme (Rihards Zariņš collected samples of the Latvian national ornament, traveled in all Latvia. By order of the ethnographic department of the Russian Museum has formed a collection of clothes, jewelry, objects of culture and life of the beginning and middle of the XIX century from many districts of Vidzeme and Kurzeme and is considered the founder of the congregation on the ethnography of the Latvians).

In total in Latvia are five ethnographic regions: Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme, Latgale and Celia.

Vidzeme (Livonian: Vidūmō), meaning "Middle land", is also known as Livland, though it comprises only a small part of traditional Livland. Present Vidzeme is the Latvian part of Swedish Livonia and City of Riga. It roughly corresponds to the former Alūksne, Cēsis, Gulbene, Limbaži, Madona, Valka, Valmiera districts and parts of Aizkraukle, Ogre and Riga districts north of Daugava river.

rockBy the clothes it can also be assumed, that a girl is from Vidzeme - by her skirt and striped Villaine (shoulder girdle, cape). The only difficult, specifically, to determine the concrete area - there were the clothes like this also in Latgale (region south of Vidzeme), and such embroidered villaine girls weared also on the border of Vidzeme and Latgale - in Krustpils (today part of the city Ekabpils) and in Celia. The Villaine on banknote dates from the beginning of the XIX century.

The ornament on shirt sleeves, too, could be found in both places - Vidzeme and Latgale.

rockThe Mannequin in national costume of Krustpils is on left side. The photos were taken at the exhibition of Linda Rubena in Munich, Germany and Luxembourg (2015).

On the mannequin is "caged" skirt (on banknote is stripped), but ethnographers of the Center of national culture in Riga are pretty sure, that in Latvia was a time, when all regions had first-color skirts, then - striped skirts (the beginning of XIX century), and the most recent, in the middle and the end of the XIX century - caged skirts, as most fashionable.

rockThe brooch on the girl's chest named Sakta (latv.) - a once wore, pinned to the shirt, was used only to maintain Villaine.

On banknote, specifically, depicted burbuļsakta - "bubble brooch".

The most common item of jewellery was a brooch or pin (Latvian: sakta). One or more of these would be used either to fasten the neck opening of a shirt, or to keep a shawl in place.

Brooches were usually silver, except in western Latvia (Kurzeme) where they might be plated with bronze.

Although brooches might be adorned with red or blue-coloured stones, the most commonly found gem is amber. This appears on brooches, and also was used to make beads for necklaces, especially in southern Latvia. As might be expected, the more jewellery worn with a folk costume, the wealthier the owner.

Although it does not occur with every version of a Latvian folk costume, a wide, rectangular woolen shawl is an important part of many female outfits. The Latvian word for this type of shawl is Villaine; this comes from the word villa or vilna which means "wool". The overwhelming majority of Villaines are woven from white wool, and may have elaborate embroidery, fringes, and or metal adornments sewn onto them.

The embroidered patterns may originally have been intended as "enchantments" to protect the wearer from harm.


On villaine is the Latvian embroidery patterns - Austras Koks.

Austra Tree or the Tree of the Sun is a generalized model of human knowledge and understanding.

Specialist in ornaments Daina Krauke explains: "For this purpose, a symbol expressed understanding of the human world: wooden roots symbolize the underworld, the trunk - the middle world - the middle of where we are with the animals and plants, and the foliage symbolizes the upper world - the world of the sky, to which all aspire. In this tree are combined understandings of the past, present and future, about our ancestors, about ourselves, about our children. The tree is the communication with the spiritual, not just communication, but also a manifestation of spirituality".

The symbol of the world tree is also associated with the solar road, it is the personification of the sunrise and sunset.

austra tree

In its simplest form, a sign reminds a new twig begins to grow, but in the most luxurious of derivative sign is as rich as its explanation. Often Tree Austria enriched with the Sun, Moon or elements Ausekla sign, the sign of Mara.

Especially luxury usually made a central part of the sign, that is, our life.

Solar tree as an ornament is used in women's clothing - woolen fabrics in shirts, in wreaths. Maybe this is an indication that it is women who have to be the creator of beauty and the custodian of values. ( latv.)

Rihards Zariņš, as an artist and a good graphic designer, always stands out the most beautiful parts of the image, certainly showing a little of his imagination.

It is the classic style of drawing. Designer painted a number of different volumes, lines, tried to use a combination of dark-light subjects, so that they contrast well passed together.

Latvian coat of arms is centered.

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)

In the background are the inscriptions: "20 LATU".

The inscription at the bottom: "Par zimju viltosanu viltoto zimju uzglabasanu un izplatisanu vainigie sodami pec attiecigiem sodu likumiem" or in English "For forgery, as well as storage and distribution of counterfeit banknotes, the perpetrators are punished in accordance with applicable law".

The denominations are 6 times in numerals.


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.

Milda Milda

Milda Milda Milda Milda

In my collection I also have the coins with native girl image - Milda (Zelma Brauere).

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.