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Lithuanian Wildlife, Gray Heron: 3 Talonas (Lithuania, 1991)-Article

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

This early post-Soviet Lithuanian banknote represents the 5th denomination of the First Talonas (1991). 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 Gray Herons.


The observe depicts a pair of Gray Herons, one of the many seasonal birds that breed in Northern Europe. They can be seen during mating season around early February, till early June. Despite this detailed illustration the observe is relatively sparse. Featuring a light brown to tan color scheme with waving horizonal stripes. The note's Three Talonas value is represented by a number "3", on the lower left and right corners.

Notably the observe can be divided into 2 section, with varying underprint. The first section covering the roughly the first 5th of the observe. Featuring 3 unprinted waving stripes, with tight curving light tan colored lines on the remainder. These curving lines extended outward toward to the right. Completing this section is a single green number "3", with matching horizontal lines and a vertical serial number "CU No 509796".

The second section, features the Gray Herons illustration. The stripes in this section instead feature a light brown vertical lines. While the remaining area features 2 intermeshed patterns in light brown. Combing the both the before mentioned vertical lines and horizontal curves, from the first section. Notably the herons are superimposed on a separate/final print.


The Reverse features the note's "3" Talonas value overlaid, on Juniper branches. The Common Juniper represents one of the many symbols of Lithuania. Being associated with traditional medicine and dairy products. Due to their slow growth, juniper wood is quite dense, strong and watertight. Making it well suited for utensils and storage bins for butter and cheese. It's aromatic properties are appreciated throughout Northern and Central Europe.

Similar to the observe, the reverse features a multi-layer print with white stripes and light brown to tan lines. With the exception pattern is now facing vertically, rather than hirozontal. Notably the beforementioned number "3" features matching green horizontal lines on its surface. Additionally the section features a sets of text. The upper text reads "Republic Of Lithuania - Talonas", referring to the newly sovereign nation and currency. While 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 (1991), followed by the Coat of Arms of Lithuania, and number "3". Which simply symbolizing the notes 3 Talonas value.

The Gray Heron

The Gray Heron is a long-legged wadding bird native to much of temperate Eurasia and portions of Africa. Population in Northern Europe are migratory, leaving southward during Autumn. They can be observed along bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and seashores. Searching for food in the shallow water.

The average Gray Heron stands at 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) tall and weigh roughly 1-2 kg (2-4 lb). They have a distinct and iconic appearance. Being known grayish-white head, with blush-black stripes ending in a swept back crest. This coloration can vary some herons varying between these shades. With featuring blush-black sections on their wings. Although most features a yellow-orange beak and brown colored legs.

A heronry at Carp Hills, Ottawa, Canada
A heronry at Carp Hills, Ottawa, Canada

During mating season Gray Herons establish colonies known as heronries. These nesting site are usually built on high trees near bodies of water. Although can be made on cluster of low trees, large bushes, reed beds, and cliffsides. The nest are reused on a year to year basis, until they eventually become blown down, usually by a large storm.

Nest making is done my male-female pairs. With males gathering the building material and female building the nest site. The process begins by laying down a frame of sticks, usually dry reeds. This is followed by packing the frame with dry grass, twigs and root strands. After the nest is complete the mating pair begin a greeting ceremony by raising and lowering their wings and plumes.

A Gray Heron nest usually between 3-5 eggs, although nest with 7 eggs have been recorded. The eggs and bluish-green and are laid in 2-day intervals. The eggs hatches in an average of 25 days, after the first egg is laid. Both parents take part in incubating (warming) the eggs and feeding the hatchlings. The hatching mature quickly taking their first flight at 6-7 weeks.

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.

First Talons "Coupon" Gallery

(Gallery contains all sub-denomination First Talonas banknotes)

First Talons "Zoo Tickets" Gallery

(Gallery contains all full denomination First Talonas banknotes)


Additional Notes

  • This note dimensions are 120 x 75mm or 4.72 x 2.95 in, shorter and thicker than a 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 Egyptian god Bennu was depicted as a heron, during the New Kingdom era.

  • In Ancient Rome the heron was celebrated as a symbol of divination.

  • The oldest recorded Gray Heron lived to be an impressive 23 years old.

Photo Credits

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