Averss Reverss

Face value: 5 lats.
Weight: 1.2442 g; diameter: 13.92 mm.
Metal: gold, fineness 9999; quality: proof.
Struck in 2003 by Valcambi SA (Switzerland).
The design of the coin was created by Gunars Cilitis (design based on Rihards Zarins' drawing for the silver 5-lats coin struck in 1929, 1931 and 1932) and the plaster cast was modelled by Ligita Franckevica.

 

Obverse
The large coat of arms of the Republic of Latvia is placed in the centre. The numeral 5 topped with the year 2003 are inscribed beneath the central motif. The inscriptions PIECI and LATS, arranged in a semicircle, are placed to the left and right of the central motif, respectively.

Reverse
The central motif is a Latvian maiden in profile, viewed from the right side. The girl has ears of corn on her shoulder. The inscriptions LATVIJAS and REPUBLIKA, arranged in a semicircle, are placed to the left and right of the central motif, respectively.

Edge
Reeded.


One of the most beautiful Latvian folk-song images is the folk-maid, the symbol of virtue and righteousness that seem to cast ever radiant light upon her work and the world around her.

After World War I, when Latvia had become an independent state with its own national currency, among the authors of the new lats coins was the graphic artist Rihards Zariņš (1869-1939), manager of the State Securities Printing House. For the obverse of the 5-lats silver coin he chose his 1921 design of the large coat of arms of the Republic of Latvia, which was created on the basis of the draft design of the State coat of arms, made by the graphic artist Vilhelms Krūmiņš; on the reverse he depicted a Latvian folk-maid.

The prototype of the Latvian folk-maid was Zelma Brauere (1900-1977), a proofreader of the State Securities Printing House, whose youth, beauty and gentle demeanor fascinated the artist. Various images of Zelma Brauere can be also recognized on the 10-lats and 20-lats bank notes designed by Rihards Zariņš, as well as on the covers of expensive telegrams and, somewhat generalized, on the 50-santims coin.

On the reverse of the 5-lats coin, Rihards Zariņš has portrayed a girl in profile, viewed from the right side. Scarce means have been used to typify the image: ears of corn on the girl's shoulder, a rich braid on her back, her collar and head-dress embroidered with an ornamental design characteristic of Latvian folk costume. The artistic expression is intensified by the serene beauty of mutual relationship and the simultaneous lightness and firmness of the silhouette.

Before World War II, the 5-lats coin became popular in a short time, and, like the statue that tops the Freedom Monument, obtained a symbolic meaning. People gave 5-lats silver coins to their children as gifts; they stored and kept them  "for a rainy day" - as if they had some apprehension, some foreboding. 

At the time of World War II, occupations followed one another; the Latvian state lost its independence and national currency. The 5-lats silver coin had a destiny unlike, perhaps, any other coin of the world - it became a symbol of Latvian freedom and sovereignty, a ray of hope, secretly stored by almost every family who lived in the occupied Latvia, was deported to Siberia, or went into exile, scattered over the whole world.

The coin survived in another form as well. Transformed into a brooch, it became a mute confirmation of the Latvian identity and the belief of Latvians in regaining their independence. It was a quiet, but obvious defiance to the occupant rule, which acquired a special meaning in late 1980s, the beginning of the national awakening movement.

The Bank of Latvia has issued the gold coin to commemorate the tenth anniversary of restoration of the Latvian national currency, preserving the 5-lats silver coin's historic symbols of wealth and freedom of the people.