The Bank of Estonia has issued (22nd January) its silver crown coin paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jaan Poska, a leading figure in the movement that eventually led to Estonia’s independence from the Russian Empire in 1920. The new issue was first announced back in September.
Born on January 24, 1866 in Laiuse, Jogeva Parish, Estonia, Poska’s first language was Russian; it was noted that he spoke Estonian with a distinctive Russian accent, despite coming from an Estonian family. At the age of 16, he lost his father and the family moved to the city of Tartu. The education he received was to prepare him to enter the seminary and become a priest. Although he passed his exams to ready himself for this path, he changed courses in 1886 and decided to study medicine at the University of Tartu.
A year later, Poska changed courses again, this time settling on law. The law courses were taught in German, and Poska learned the language sufficiently to pass the Estonian Bar in 1890, after which he found employment as a lawyer in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, under Russian rule at the time. As a well-known legal figure, Poska ran for Tallinn’s city commissioner and was duly elected.
For Poska, this was the beginning of an era during which the awakening of national Estonian identity and the collective desire for independence from Moscow grew stronger. In 1913, he was elected to the post of Mayor of Tallinn and promoted programs advocating increased health care and women’s education; he also founded the Industrial Art School in 1916.
In 1917, substantial political changes were underway in St. Petersburg; as a result, Poska was appointed as head of the new Estonian Provisional Government, which was organised after the abdication of Russia’s Czar Nicholas II. After the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg by the Bolsheviks, and the dissolution of the Provisional Russian Republic under the government of Aleksander Kerensky, the Provisional Estonian Government refused to recognize the new government of the Bolsheviks.
On the February 24, 1918, the independence of Estonia was declared. As this occurred against the backdrop of fierce fighting in Europe, Imperial German forces reached the borders of the Baltic states and occupied Estonia until the cessation of hostilities in November 1918.
After the end of the war, Poska traveled through Western Europe working to procure recognition of the new Estonian government, while seeking to participate in the Paris Peace Conference. He was able to lead Estonia’s delegation in negotiations with Soviet Russia and achieved recognition of Estonia’s independence with the signing of the Treaty of Tartu on February 2, 1920. Sadly, Poska died shortly after, on March 7, 1920, and was buried in Tallinn’s primary cemetery, where many other notable national political and literary figures were also laid to rest.
The coin, produced at the Mint of Lithuania, is designed by Mall Nukke. The obverse side includes a stylized portrait of Jaan Poska, set along an image of the border he helped to negotiate for the Estonian state. The design also includes the blue, black, and white of the Estonian flag. The reverse shows the coat of arms of the Republic of Estonia and the year of issue, 2016.
|€10||.925 silver||28.2 grams||38.6 mm.||Proof & colour||4000 pieces|
This collector coin issued by the Bank of Estonia will go on sale on January 22 in designated post offices in Tallinn, Tartu, Kuressaare, Haapsalu, Narva, Pärnu, Valga and Viljandi. The coin will also be available from the e-shop of Estonian Post; for more information please visit their Web site. International sales will be dispatched where applicable.