Bank honors history of alphabet primers with commemorative coins

The Bank of Latvia has issued a new 1-lat coin featuring an alphabet primer. The coin is meant for collectors and will not be put into circulation.

The coin, in both silver and copper-nickel alloy versions, commemorates the history of the ābece, or ABC, in Latvia. The coin’s front side depicts a scene in which country children are learning the alphabet. The reverse shows a rooster, a symbol that has been found on many primers through history.

The first Latvian ābece dates to 1683, according to an Aug. 12 press release from the bank. Uncut printer’s sheets of the primer, adorned with a drawing of a rooster, were found in 1941 in the library of the University of Tartu in Estonia.

“The rooster of the Latvian ABC grows out of an old tradition,” Ināra Klekere, head of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of the Latvian National Library, said in the press release. “It is often found also in the ABCs of other nations. The oldest known depictions of rooster have been found in the Polish and German ABCs of the 1570s. (The) rooster on the front cover of the ABC even in modern times has retained its pre-Christian symbolism: it is a herald of light who has set his sights eastward; the three ribbons that are featured also in the Latvian ABC probably symbolize the thrice repeated morning call of the rooster.”

About 200 different alphabet primers have been published in Latvia.

Just 5,000 pieces of the silver coin have been minted, while 10,000 piece of the copper-nickel version were made. Both coins were minted by Rahapaja Oy in Finland.

The coins were designed by graphic artist Arvīds Priedīte and mold maker Ligita Franckeviča.

The coins will be available for purchase at the Bank of Latvia in Rīga, as well as at souvenir and jewelry shops in Latvia.

Coin commemorates alphabet primer

The new 1-lat coin issued by the Bank of Latvia commemorates the history of the alphabet primer.

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