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Lithuanian Wildlife, The Eurasian Wolf: 500 Talonas (Lithuania, 1993)-Article

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

This early post-Soviet Lithuanian banknote represents the 6th denomination (2nd variant) 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 Eurasian Wolves, on its reverse.


The reverse is relatively simple and can be divided into 2 sections. The 1st section to the right features an illustration of a a pair of Eurasian Wolves. Which found in Northern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. Behind this illustration is a multi-layer underprint, in light blue, gold and light brown ink. Somewhat improving the anti-counterfeit value over its 1992 predecessor.

The light blue lines form horizontal waves, that run across the printed zone. The gold color lines are printed horizontally, covering roughly upper and lower 1/3 of printed zone. Their intense waves cause the shallower light blue waves, at the center to appear more spaced. A final set of light brown waving lines run vertically, at the note's far right. A number 500 is featured on upper right corner, representing the note's 500 Talonas value.

The 2nd section to the left is relatively sparse. The upper text roughly translates to "Forgery is punishable by law". The previous 1992 variant of this note featured a serial number in its place. Below is an unprinted watermark area, followed by an additional number "500".


The observe features the note's "500" Talonas value overlaid, on Rue flowers. The Rue flower is the national flower of Lithuania. It was brought to Lithuania by Catholic missionaries. Due to its ability to grow in harsh environments. it became associated with warding off evil. In addition, to its association with the Biblical Mary, it became traditional for brides to wear Rue headpiece.

Similar to the reverse, the center features a multi-layer underprint. Made from overlapping layers of gray, light blue, and light brown inked lines. All the lines run vertically in a waving pattern, although differ in intensity and position. The gray lines are the most shallow of the three colors. While the light blue, and light brown are more intense with larger crests.

Notably the waves within the "500" are larger, giving the appearance as they were magnified. Although considering this section is overprinted above the Rue flowers. This effect was done intentionally to counter counterfeiting. Which was the intent when the Bank of Lithuania introduced the 1993 variants of the 200 and 500 Talonas.

Unlike the previous 1992 500 Talonas, this note features micro text. It can be seen at the note's left, behind Coat of Arms of Lithuania and it's accompanying text. The micro text simply translates to "Five Hundred Talonas", repeated in sequence. Which is repeated by the larger text below the coat of arms. The upper text translates to the Republic of Lithuania 1993.

A the note's right is a watermark area. The upper simply repeats it's "Five Hundred Talonas" value. While the note's serial number (KI332205) is featured at the bottom. Notably the previous 1992 issued 500 Talonas had this featured on the reverse. Along the upper left corner, on its watermark area.

The Eurasian Wolf

The Eurasian Wolf is a sub-species of the Gray Wolf, native forest and steppes of Eurasia. Although historically common in Western Europe, until the medieval period due to mass hunting. Most current populations reside in nature reserves and the former Soviet Union. The species was highly regarded historically by ancient European cultures, with the exception of early Germanic people.

Notably populations from Scandinavia (Northern Europe) and the former Soviet Union are larger than Western European wolves. Mostly due to the greater abundance of available prey. Average Russia wolves measure 105–160 cm (41–63 in) in length and 80–85 cm (31–33 in) tall, at the shoulder. With an average weight of 32–50 kg (71–110 lb) and a maximum healthy weight of 69–80 kg (152–176 lb). The heaviest recorded wolf was a 86 kg (190 lb) individual, hunted near Kobeliaky, Ukrainian SSR.

Since the 1950s, conservation efforts have emerged to recover European wolf populations. By reintroducing breeding pairs, regions which wolves have not become extinct. In addition to signing legislation, which prohibiting the hunting of non-nuisance wolves. Allowing wolves to naturally expand from neighboring regions, with heavily forested and mountainous terrain.

These include Russian Karelia, which maintains a large wolf population. Karelia proximity to Finland has played a key role, despite the region's declining Moose population. Similarly Poland's forests have played a role, in restoring populations in eastern Germany, Lithuania, and Belarus. Breeding populations have been recorded in the Sudeten Mountains, along the Czech-Polish border.

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 (1992-93). 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 105 × 53 mm or 4.13 x 2.09 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 Second Talonas included a 1993 sub-series, featuring alternate 200 and 500 Talonas notes.

  • The 1992 variant of the 500 Talonas featured the Eurasian Brown Bear.

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