Estonia: Final Gold And Silver Coins In Hanseatic League Cities Series Released Featuring The City Of Tartu

The Bank of Estonia have released the fourth and final coins in their Hanseatic League Cities series featuring the city of Tartu.

by Michael Alexander | Published on June 20, 2024

In 2017, the Bank of Estonia released the first coin as part of a numismatic series dedicated to the great Hanseatic cities of Estonia. Founded in the late 12th century and organised by German merchant communities and small towns, the Hanseatic League became a medieval commercial and defensive network which ultimately included merchant guilds and market towns in Central and Northern Europe. By the early 13th century, the League expanded to other German-speaking cities and communities, winding its way up to Estonia in the north and east, to the Netherlands in the west, and extended inland as far as Cologne, the Prussian regions and Kraków, present-day Poland by the middle of the 15th century. The League offered traders within the territory toll privileges and protection against highway robbers in both affiliated regions and on their trade routes. Growing economic interdependence and familial connections among influential merchant families led to deeper political integration and the removal of trade barriers. This gradual process also saw the emergence of standardised trade regulations among Hanseatic Cities.

At its height, the Hanseatic League dominated commercial activity, especially maritime trade in northern Europe, especially in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Despite its commercial and economic mite, the Hanseatic League remained a loosely aligned confederation of city-states which lacked a permanent administrative body, a treasury or common currency, nor a standing military force. Because of this situation, and what was perceived as weak connections, the Hanseatic League was vulnerable to outside influences and gradually unravelled as members became consolidated into other realms or departed, ultimately disintegrating in function by 1669. The German cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck remained as the only members until the League's formal end in 1862. The Hanseatic League left both a significant cultural and architectural heritage in many of the countries which the League was prominent. Voluntary cooperation of the Hanseatic League and its members has come to prominence in popular culture and today remains associated with innovation, entrepreneurism and inter-state collaboration in economic circles.

The present-day city of Tartu was known as Dorpat during the Hanseatic era and was Estonia's second largest town, developed to be an important trading post along the commercial route to the east. Dorpat became part of the League in the late 13th century and remained so until the League’s dissolution. Other historic Estonian towns which were part of the Hanseatic League Cities series were Pärnu, Tallinn and Viljandi.

The gold and silver proof quality coins are produced by the Lithuanian Mint at their facilities in Vilnius and on behalf of the Bank of Estonia.

8 Euro – Silver. Designed by Svetlin Balezdrov, the obverse side features a window that opens onto a view of Tartu town hall. The name of TARTU is incorporated in a way that emphasises art and the artistic traditions of the town, while also displaying the town’s coat of arms in the last letter. Below the crest is the coins’ denomination 8€. The reverse side depicts the Estonian crest of three lions passant against a shield and surrounded by branches of oak on either side. The bold lettering EESTI VABARIIK and the year of issue 2024 are placed along the right of the crest along the rim.

25 Euro – Gold. Designed by Heino Prunsvelt, the obverse side replicates a terracotta sculpture of a girl’s face which is found decorating the south facade of St. John's Church in Tartu. The Gothic St. John's Church is one of the oldest churches in Estonia, dating back to the 14th century. Above the primary design is the text HANSALINN TARTU (Hanseatic Town Tartu) placed along the upper rim. Below is the denomination of 25€. The reverse side features the Estonian crest of three lions passant against a shield and surrounded by branches of oak on either side. Above the primary design is the bold lettering EESTI VABARIIK and below, the year of issue, 2024.

DenominationMetalWeightDiameterQualityMintage limit
8 Euro.925 Silver 28.2 g. 38.6 mm.Proof5,000 pieces
25 Euro.999 Gold3.1 g.18 mm.Proof3,000 pieces

Available from the 12th June, each gold and silver coin is encapsulated and presented in a heavy gauge lined card case accompanied with a certificate of authenticity. The collector coins are available from the retail shop of the Bank of Estonia’s Museum in Tallinn as well as their on-line retail service Omniva for all international sales.

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Author: Michael Alexander

Michael Alexander image Michael’s background in both numismatics and banknotes spans more than three decades and whose activities have varied from being a dedicated world coin collector to coin & medal design, marketing, theme concept and production. His additional interests include banknote research and in 1997, he founded the London Banknote and Monetary Research Centre to further these interests and activities. The company continues to offer monthly currency bulletins to both online and printed publications which includes information about the latest banknote news and releases from Central Banks and Monetary Authorities around the world. Michael has been a contributor to COIN NEWS magazine based in the UK since 1998 where many of his in-depth interviews, articles and bulletins have been published.

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