Lithuanian Wildlife, Sand Lizards: 1 Talonas (Lithuania, 1991)-Article

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

This early post-Soviet Lithuanian banknote represents the 4th 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 Sand Lizards.


The observe depicts a pair of Sand Lizards, one of the rare lizards to live in Northern Europe. They can be seen at the sand dunes of Kuršių Nerija National Park, on the Baltic coast. Despite this detailed illustration the observe is relatively sparse. Featuring a neutral brown to beige color scheme with diagonal stripes. The note's one Talonas value is represented by a number "1", 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 2 diagonal stripes, with tight vertical tan colored lines. While remaining beige underprint features shallow downward sloping lines, with a similar color scheme. Completing this section is a single number "1" and a vertical serial number "CX No 507988".

The second section, features the Sand Lizards illustration. The stripes in this section instead feature a dark brown vertical lines. Although can be somewhat harder to identify, due to a differing print scheme. Which compounds the beforementioned shallow sloping lines with a wave-like pattern. Notably the lizards are superimposed on a separate/final print.


The Reverse features the note's "1" Talonas value overlaid, on Bilberry branches. Bilberry also known as European Blueberries 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 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 multi-layer print with dark brown stripes and tan waving lines. Notably the beforementioned number "1" features white 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. 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 "1". Which simply symbolizing the notes 1 Talonas value.

The Sand Lizard

The Sand Lizard is notably for being one of the few lizard species to live in Northern Europe. They can be found as far west as the British Isles. Although are most common in Central and Eastern Europe. Relying on a special type of hibernation called brumation, to survive the cold winters.

Male and female Sand Lizards appear somewhat similar, with some subtle differences. Such as male lizards featuring finer markings than females. Additionally the average male Sand Lizard is 19.3 cm or 7.60 in long. While female Sand Lizards are average slightly smaller, at 18.5 cm or 7.28 in. Which is somewhat uncommon for some lizards, in which the opposed is true.

Sand lizards feed mainly on insects, although they are known feed on wandering spiders. When not feeding, Sand Lizards can be seen basking under the sun, in warm dry areas. Such as open fields, rocky hills, sand dunes, and even personal rock gardens. In Northern Europe they are associated with sand dunes and the beach. As they are more reliant on these areas to lay their eggs and burrow during the winter.

Sand Lizard mating season spans from Spring to late Summer, after they emerge from hibernation. As hibernation expends crucial fat reserves, they immediately search for food after awaking. These fat reserves are mostly stored within their tails. Male lizards during mating season will take on a green color, to attract female mates.

Notably male lizards will fade back to their usual color, weeks before hibernation. Although become more aggressive with male lizards, while searching for mate. Before eating hibernation the female lizard will on average lay a clutch of 8 eggs. The eggs usually hatch in August-September, usually 3-4 months after being laid.

The hatchling are entirely self-sufficient, reaching adulthood after 2 years. Sand lizards have an relatively impressive life span of 5-8 years in the wild. Although captive examples have lived up to 12-20 years. Currently there is conservation efforts targeted at population declines in Northwestern Europe. Male western Sand Lizards differ from their Eastern Europe subspecies. In that only their sides turn green during mating season.

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 only banknotes within the database)


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.

  • Kuršių Nerija National Park and its sand dunes are protected by the Lithuanian government.

  • Sand Lizards in brumation are required to occasionally awake to drink water.

  • Male Sand Lizards from Eastern Europe will turn fully green, during mating season.

  • Sand Lizard females selectively control their fertility, to avoid inbreeding.

Photo Credits

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