December 20, 2018 – Latvijas Banka has issued a 2 euro commemorative coin dedicated to Zemgale. This coin concludes the series of 2 euro commemorative coins dedicated to Latvia’s cultural and historical regions. The series is one of Latvijas Banka’s contributions to the centenary of Latvia. The 2 euro commemorative coin depicting the coat of arms of Vidzeme was issued in 2016, but the coins featuring the coats of arms of Kurzeme and Latgale – last year.
The reverse was designed and created by Laimonis Senbergs and Janis Strupulis.
The graphic design of the national side of the new commemorative coin has been created by artist Laimonis Senbergs, but the author of the plaster model is Janis Strupulis. Laimonis Senbergs is the Deputy Chairman of the Coin Design Commission of Latvijas Banka and author of the graphic design of several prize-winning collector coins. Janis Strupulis has created the graphic design of two coins and plaster models of several dozens of Latvijas Banka’s collector and circulation coins. The European side of these euro commemorative coins bearing the nominal value (artist Luc Luycx) is the same as that of other 2 euro circulation coins, including material and size.
The national side of the commemorative coins issued by Latvijas Banka features the inscription “LATVIJA”, and the edge of the coin, like all other 2 euro circulation coins of the Republic of Latvia, features the inscription “DIEVS * SVETI * LATVIJU *”. The new 2 euro coin has been minted by Staatliche Münze Baden-Württemberg (Germany).
The division of Latvia into cultural and historical regions (Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale) is stipulated by Article 3 of Satversme (the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia). As a contribution to Latvia’s centenary, Latvijas Banka is issuing four euro commemorative coins featuring the coats of arms of Latvia’s cultural and historical regions.
The symbols incorporated in the coats of arms established by the Regulations on Coats of Arms of Latvia’s Regions, adopted on 26 April 1930 and having statutory effect, are related to historical developments in the present-day territory of Latvia. In 2012, a special law was passed to lay down legal protection of these coats of arms as national symbols. They were created by artist Karlis Krauze (1904–1942) in 1930, and the coat of arms of Zemgale features a silver elk on a blue background.
The coat of arms of Zemgale.
Zemgale is the only cultural and historical region of Latvia bordering Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale. It ranks among the most fertile Northern European regions, and its cereal fields have brought prosperity to the region for many centuries. The area is also well-known for its abundance of rivers and rich history, in which a major role is played by Semigallians’ fight for freedom in the 13th century.
The history of the coat of arms of Zemgale is linked with the heraldic symbols of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia of the 16th to 18th centuries. The origins of the Duchy’s coat of arms date back to the middle of the 1560s when the oldest seal of the Duchy already bore the representation of the coat of arms (1565) depicting the symbol of Semigallia. More specifically, the quartered shield featured two elks, next to two lions, emerging out of the shield edges, with only upper parts of their bodies featured. An elk is not a common symbol in heraldry; its presence in the Duchy’s coat of arms symbolised the region’s natural wealth. The representation of Semigallia’s coat of arms was infrequently used in ancient times, but the coat of arms of its largest city Jelgava has been featuring an elk’s head since 1573. It looks more like a deer’s head than that of an elk in its earlier representations, just as in the coat of arms of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. Uncertainties surrounding the depiction of the animal persisted throughout the lifetime of the Duchy, although it was already in 1579 that the figure featured on the coat of arms was clearly called an elk in the description of the coat of arms of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. Since the 19th century, the representation of the elk has no longer raised doubts.
For more information on this other Latvijas Banka products, please visit the official website.
Some interesting facts about elks can be found on Live Science.