The Bank of Latvia


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Bank of Latvia


Obverse     Reverse

Face value: 10 lats.
Measurements: diameter 38.61 mm, weight 31.47 g.
Material: silver, fineness .925.
Quality: proof.
Struck in 1997 by the British Royal Mint (United Kingdom).
Artistic conception: Laimonis Senbergs
Artists: Laimonis Senbergs, Gunars Cilitis (graphic design), Ligita Franckevica-Ulmane, Janis Strupulis (plaster model).

Riga's coat of arms of the 18th century, where lions, the bearers of the shield, are replaced by the Russian Empire's two-headed eagle, is featured in the centre of the coin by matting the metal to different degrees. The year 1997, numeral 10 and inscription LATU (lats) are placed under the motif.
The Blackheads House is depicted in the centre of the coin by matting the metal to different degrees. The inscription MELNGALVJU NAMS XVIII GS. (Blackheads House 18th century), arranged in a semicircle, is above the motif. The inscription RIGA-800 is placed beneath the motif.
The inscriptions LATVIJAS REPUBLIKA (Republic of Latvia) and LATVIJAS BANKA (Bank of Latvia), separated by rhombic dots.


The beginning of the 18th century was marked by the Northern War (1700-1721) in which Sweden lost, and Riga and the province of Vidzeme became part of the Russian Empire. For the next 200 years Riga was the administrative centre of the province of Riga (from 1796, the province of Vidzeme). During the war the city suffered much from the siege and the Great Plague (1710-1711) claiming the lives of about half of the population. Once the citizens recovered, Riga's economic activity blossomed and the city established itself as Russia's second largest trading port after the Empire's capital, St. Petersburg.

Major export goods of Riga were flax, hemp, grain and wood, but import goods were salt and herring. Flourishing trade ensured employment for the population. Though about half of the population was German, Riga had become a multinational city embracing citizens not only from the countryside but also from other provinces of Russia and Western Europe.

Riga's cityscape evolved as the city was rebuilt after the war. By the middle of the 18th century, Riga's Council governed from a new City Hall with an ornate facade and a mansard roof. Facing it was Riga's architectural gem: the magnificent Blackheads House, built in 1330s as a meeting place for Riga's householders. At the end of the 15th century the brotherhood of young, unmarried German traders - the so-called Blackheads - started renting the building, and by 1713 it was turned over to the brotherhood. In the second half of the 18th century, Johan Christoph Brotze (1742-1823) captured Riga's buildings, inhabitants and lifestyle in drawings and descriptions, which, compiled in 10 volumes, were a unique monument to the Riga of the 18th century.

The coin's reverse features the Blackheads House, as it was in the 18th century. The obverse shows Riga's coat of arms of the 18th century, which reveals the change of power. In 1723 Riga's Council ruled that lions, the holders of the shield, had to be replaced by Russia's two-headed eagle.