The Bank of Latvia has launched (14th October) new silver Proof collector’s coins which focus on the country’s cultural relationship with nature and the affinity Latvians have with their forests. Entitled “Gifts of the Forest,” the coin’s issue is dedicated to Latvia’s values and sense of traditions created by the sense of belonging and uniting its people. With this particular design and focus, the coin shows Latvians respect to the forests, the gifts they provide, as well as traditions related to forests, such as mushroom and berry picking.
The translation of the word “mushrooms” in Latin is fungi or mycota and evokes associations with a poetic world of nature. The word “mycology,” or the science about mushrooms, is also derived from it. Mushroom species are an old and large group of widespread organisms playing an important role in nature. Many wild animals use them as their food, while worms and insects live in the fruit bodies of mushrooms.
Mushroom-picking skills have often been praised in Latvian folk songs. A grateful collection of gifts from nature, both mushrooms and wild berries are an integral part of the everyday life traditions and the ethnic identity of Latvians. During the seasons of summer and autumn, special rituals in the countryside abound, which, for some, resemble the instinct of a diligent squirrel collecting provisions for the long winter. Besides, there is a belief that an abundance of mushrooms in the woods during autumn is a sure sign of poor grain harvest next year.
Collecting of this valuable and tasty supplement to the daily meals of Latvians are found during the walks in the meadows, marshlands, and forests which serve as a spiritual and physical relaxation and exercise. Picking mushrooms is also a widespread hobby among Lithuanians and Estonians, as well as most other Eastern Europeans, Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians and the rest of Europe, North America, Australia, and some parts of Asia. Worldwide, there are over 70,000 species of mushrooms documented in literature, but their classifications have still not been completed yet. In Latvia alone, there are more than 4,000 species of mushrooms which have been identified, including 51 protected, 33 poisonous species, and some hallucinogenic strains whose distribution is prohibited by law. Approximately 270 mushroom species are edible, with keen mushroom pickers usually preferring only about 20 to 30 of them. Hardcore mushroom snobs will pick only penny buns and other edible boletes, chanterelles, and saffron milk caps, leaving russulas, honey agarics, and ugly milk caps to others. During the months of July and August, true gourmets look for parasol mushrooms, whose flavour is similar to that of hazelnuts and they will often enjoy them raw.
The Royal Dutch Mint produces the coins at their facilities in Utrecht on behalf of the Bank of Latvia. They are designed by Edmunds Jansons (graphic design of the obverse) and Edgars Folks (graphic design of the reverse). The obverse side depicts a stylised mushroom with mycelium shown in the centre. The inscription of the year 2019 and LATVIJA is arranged in a semi-circle along the edge in the upper-left part. The inscription 5 EURO is placed in the middle and on the right side.
The reverse includes a charming and traditional drawing of a young boy picking mushrooms with a basket at his side. He bends down to observe a bolete with a snail on top and a small bolete in the moss who is perhaps observing the young boy. A bunch of raspberries is depicted at the left upper part of the design. The edge of the coins includes the incused inscription LATVIJAS BANKA and LATVIJAS REPUBLIKA, which are separated by rhombic dots.
|22 g||35 mm||Proof||
From the 17th October, the new coin will be on sale online via the Latvijas Banka’s website for purchases of collector coins and other numismatic products.
Those residing in Latvia can purchase up to two examples at the Cashier’s Offices of Latvijas Banka at K. Valdemāra iela 1B in Riga and Teātra iela 3 in Liepāja. The building of Latvijas Banka in Riga will be open from 8:30 a.m. and tickets to join the queue will be available from 7:00 a.m.