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Lithuanian Wildlife, The Wisent: 100 Talonas (Lithuania, 1991)- Article

Updated: Feb 13

This early post-Soviet Lithuanian banknote represents the 10th 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 a European Bison.


The observe depicts a Wisent (European Bison), the heaviest land animal in Europe.

The observe depicts a Wisent (European Bison), the heaviest land animal in Europe. Despite this detailed illustration the observe is relatively sparse. Featuring a brown to beige color scheme with a overlaying mesh. The note's Hundred Talonas value is represented by a number "100", 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 a light tan mesh, that's somewhat looser along its sides. This mesh extends outward toward to the right. Completing this section is a single brown number "100", with a red vertical serial number "CU No 597713".

The second section to the right features the Wisent illustration. This section instead featurse a light blue mesh, which tightens at 3 vertical points. Combining with the before mentioned light brown mesh, from the first section. Notably the Wisent is superimposed on a separate/final print.


The reverse features the note's "100" Talonas value overlaid, on stylized Common Dandelion plants. The Common Dandelion can be found found throughout Eurasia and North America.

The reverse features the note's "100" Talonas value overlaid, on stylized Common Dandelion plants. The Common Dandelion can be found found throughout Eurasia and North America. It's widely known in these regions, for its use in traditional medicine. Usually in the form of tea, created from its dried flowers and roasted roots. In Northern and Central Europe its nectar and pollen serves as a common source of food for honey bees.

Similar to the observe, the reverse features a multi-layer print with waving light tan and turquoise lines. With the exception of two subtle vertical bundles (light brown), the majority of these lines are horizontal. Notably the beforementioned number "100" features light brown 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 "100". Which simply symbolizes the notes before mentioned Hundred Talonas value.

The European Bison

The European Bison also known as the Wisent, is the heaviest land animal in Europe. The species is distantly related to the American Bison. Notably the larger extinct Steppe Bison of the Ice Age (115,000- 11,700 B.P.) historically shared it's range with both species. Forming a common link between European and American Bison. Until their extinction in Alaska roughly 5,400 years ago.

The average European Bison bull is heavily built, with a weight of 615-920 kg (1,356-2,028 lb). With a body length of 2.8 to 3.3 m (9.2 to 10.8 ft), excluding its 30 to 92 cm (12 to 36 in). Their height stands 1.8 to 2.1 m (5.9 to 6.9 ft), the shoulder. The smaller female cows has an average weight of 424 to 633 kg (935 to 1,396 lb). With a height and length of 1.69 to 1.97 m (5.5 to 6.5 ft) and 2.4 to 2.9 m (7.9 to 9.5 ft), respectively.

Like their cousins the American Bison, they are covered in brown wholly hair. Although differ in that they have less body hair, with hairier tails. They also are taller with longer legs, allowing them to jump higher and longer. Although they run slower and lack the stamina of American Bison. European Bison have longer forward pointing horns. Allowing bulls to lock horns when fighting, as opposed to American Bison which prefer charging.

European Bison travel in small herds of 8-13, mostly cow with young 2–3 year old calves. These herds will often only have a single bull. It should be noted that not a herds are strictly family groups. As herds will occasionally combine and trade members when interacting. Some small herds of 2-3 are made up entirely of young bulls.

The herd is a matriarchy, lead by an elder cow from grazing areas to watering holes. The majority of the herds time is spent grazing on grass and browsing for shoots. European Bison tend to browse more then their American cousins. Due to differing neck, which places their snout more forward. Allowing to better browse and drink water. When feeding in the open the oldest bulls will protect the herd, along its edges.

Another notable distinction of the European Bison, is their de-extinction in the wild. The European Bison was hunted to extinction throughout much of Eurasia. During the period of late-Antiquity (3rd-5th Century) and the Middle Ages (5th-15th Century). By the early 20th Century, wild population were only present in North-Central Europe and the Western Caucus.

These remaining Bison were used to create captive breeding programs. Which allowed the species to live on, even after their extinction the wild, in 1927. In 1952 the first two bison were released into Białowieża Forest, Poland. Additional captive bison were released into the wild, increasing the population to 100 bison by 1964. At present the population is estimated be in the several 1,000s, providing a stable population.

The largest wild populations live in Poland and neighboring Belarus. Which have provided bison for reintroduction projects, throughout their former European range. These reintroduced populations can be seen in protected national parks and nature reserves. Serving as attractions, which help raise money for future reintroduction efforts.

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 żubr (Wisent) is one of the national animals of Poland and Belarus.

  • Ancient Wisent were often larger than their modern descendants.

  • Wisent are theorized to be the hybrid descendants of Steppe Bison and Aurochs. The extinct ancestors to ancient cattle.

  • Wisent are known to break ice with their hoofs, when searching for water in winter.

Photo Credits

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