Lithuanian Wildlife, Eurasian Brown Bear: 500 Talonas (Lithuania, 1992)-Article

Updated: Nov 23

This early post-Soviet Lithuanian banknote represents the 6th denomination of the Second Talonas (1992). The term "talonas" is the Lithuanian word for coupon. As Lithuania initially intended to used them as temporary coupon currency, similar to the Georgian Kuponi. Until a long-term national currency could be introduced. (SEE: A Brief History of the Talonas)

During their brief circulation they were occasionally called "zoologijos sodo bilietai" or "Zoo Tickets". As the majority of Talonas notes featured the wildlife of Lithuania. With the exception of the smaller First Talonas denominations, which resemble actual coupons. This particular banknote features the Eurasian Brown Bear.


The reverse is relatively simple and can be divided into 2 sections. The 1st section to the right features an illustration of a Eurasian Brown Bear. Which found in Northern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. Behind this illustration is a multi-layer underprint, in light blue ink. It feature rows of thin vertical waves, overlaid by fabric-like mesh. The number "500", represents the note's 500 Talonas value.

The 2nd section to the left is relatively sparse. It features a red serial number (RE145179) at the upper left corner. Below is an unprinted watermark area, followed by an additional number "500".


The Reverse features the note's "500" Talonas value overlaid, on Arctic Bramble branches. Arctic Bramble also known as Arctic Raspberry represent one of the many symbols of Lithuania. Being associated with folklore, traditional medicine, and recreational picking. They are seldom available in markets, despite being found throughout Northern and Central Europe. Due to their soft fruit and difficulty to grow outside the wild.

Similar to the observe, the reverse features a underprint with dark blue waving lines, on a light blue backing. Notably the beforementioned number "500" features inner and outer outlines. Additionally the section features a sets of text. The upper text reads "Republic Of Lithuania - Talonas", referring to the newly sovereign nation and currency. The lower text roughly translates to "Forgery is punishable by law".

The final section to the far right is relatively simple, featuring no underprint. At its top is the print date (1992), followed by the Coat of Arms of Lithuania, and number "500". Which simply symbolizing the notes 500 Talonas value.

Variant Gallery

(Gallery is used for quick variant comparison)

The Eurasian Brown Bear

The Eurasian Brown Bear is a subspecies of Brown Bear, found through much of Eurasia. Although most common Northern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. Particularly in Russia, east of the Ural Mountains into Siberia. Giving them a historical association with Russian military and political power. They are broadly related to the famous Grizzly Bears of North America.

The average adult male Eurasian Brown Bear weighs between 250 and 300 kilograms (550 and 660 lb). While the smaller females typically range between 150 and 250 kg (330 and 550 lb). Although particularly large adult males have documented with a maximum weight of 481 kg (1,058 lb). With a body length of nearly 2.5 m (8.2 ft).

Eurasian Brown Bear have dense fur which ranges from yellowish-brown, reddish-yellowish, to nearly black. Although some cases of albinism (white fur) have been documented. Fur length varies from summer and winter coats. Summer coats are shorter and less dense, than winter coats. Some bears occasionally have mane-like fur around their heads and backs, even when in summer coat.

Notably modern bears are less carnivorous (meat-eating) than their ancient ancestors. In antiquity, the Eurasian Brown Bear's diet was made of 80% meat. Making them valued adversaries in gladiatorial matches. To such an extent it contributed to their extinction in some regions of Europe. Today's bears have a diet made of between 10-15% meat.

This mostly herbaceous diet is believed to be due to scarcity of large prey. Brown Bears use their claws to dig up roots and flower blubs year-round. Although will particularly rely on this food source during winter, when food is scarce. From spring to late autumn, they will feed on berries, flowers, acorns, mosses, and mushrooms. These energy-rich foods are particularly important during winter hibernation.

During hot summer days, Brown Bears will wade and lounge in ponds and lakes. When cooling down they will browse for nearby shoots and sedges (grass-like plants). Although consuming to much of the latter is usually avoided. As bears have difficulty digesting tougher plants, such as mature grasses. Often leading to them taking naps and rests, to conserve energy.

Eurasian Brown Bear mating season usually spans from mid-May to early July. Although shifts later, the further north the bear populations is living. The cubs are born after 180-266 days, with birth often delayed due to hibernation. The average litter ranges from 1-3 cubs, although liters of 4-6 have been occasionally documented.

The cubs are born toothless and hairless, weigh between 350 to 510 g (0.77 to 1.12 lb). The cubs live entirly on their mother's milk. The cubs will not leave the den, until they have reached a larger size. When the cubs reach a weigh 7 to 9 kg (15 to 20 lb), they began following their mother over open ground.

At this point they will begin foraging at eating solid food. Learning which foods are most nutritional by observing their mother. Cubs remain with their mother for roughly 2.3 years, after which they become independent. Although will not become fully mature, until a number of years.

Female bears become fully mature at 5.2–5.5 years on average. While male bears usually become fully mature a year later. Thus repeating the process and ensuring the survival of the species.

A Brief History of the Talonas

A 0.20 Talonas note, issued in 1991.
A 0.20 Talonas note, issued in 1991.

The Talonas currency was divided into 2 series, the First (1991) and Second (1992). The First Talonas series of banknotes were introduced as a temporary currency. During independent Lithuania's efforts to disassociate itself from the Soviet Ruble and the Soviet Union (1922-1991). As dependency on the hyperinflated Soviet Ruble, made pricing for everyday goods and services difficult.

The First Talonas was 5 August 1991, under the orders of Prime Minster Gediminas Vagnorius (1957-20xx). The system was unorthodox, Lithuanian salaries were paid in Soviet Rubles. While 20% of the salary was paid in First Talonas, up to 200 Talonas. Notably these banknotes lacked an officially named subdivision, instead using a simple decimal value.

In theory, Talonas banknotes were equally valued to the former Soviet Ruble. Purchases involving Talonas were equally unorthodox, as they had to be double paid. An item's or service's posted price had to be paid in an equal amount of Soviet Rubles and First Talonas. Although due to salary payments in 20% First Talonas, met equal Ruble-Talonas payments were impractical.

This was due to design, as it would force consumers to retain 80% their salary in savings. It forced the prices of expensive goods to drop, due lack of consumers. As consumers would require multiple pay-cycles to acquire enough Talonas for these purchases. Although due to new Russian monetary restrictions and delays in adopting a new long-term currency. The inflationary problem was not confronted as originally intended.

The Second Talonas was introduced on 1 May 1992, as a second temporary solution. As inflation was greater in post-Soviet Russia, than in Lithuania. The Second Talonas was introduced as a true parallel currency, unlike the First Talonas. Thus allowing the Lithuanian government to counter some effects of hyperinflation.

To the degree the Ruble was outright abandoned, in 1 October 1992. Allowing the Talonas to become the sole currency of Lithuania. On 25 June 1993, the Talonas was replaced by the Litas, at a rate of 100 Talonas to 1 Litas. Which in turn was replaced by the Euro, on 1 January 2015.

Second Talonas Gallery

(Gallery contains all banknotes of the Second Talonas series.)


Additional Notes

  • This notes dimensions are 115x 63mm or 4.53 x 2.48 in, smaller than a standard US Dollar.

  • The Litas was replaced by the Euro, at a rate of 3.4528 Litas to 1 Euro.

  • No coins were minted for either the First or Second Talonas currency.

  • The Ancient Romans preferred bears from Caledonia (Scotland) and Dalmatia (West Balkans).

  • Wild Eurasian Brown Bear have a documented lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

Photo Credits

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