New Estonian kroon turns 10

  • 2001-02-22
  • Devyani Banerjee
TALLINN - "The Estonian central bank, Eesti Pank, will be celebrating its 82nd anniversary on Feb. 24 this year," proudly proclaimed Edith Ojasalu, the head of the Eesti Pank museum. "This year is special also because on June 20 the modern Estonian kroon will celebrate its 10th year in circulation.

"Although Estonia gained independence in 1918, we had no money of our own," said Ojasalu. "We used the czarist money, then the so-called 'Kerensky,' named after the leader of the Russian provisional government and the German mark-ost and raichmarks."

In 1918 a loan was taken from Finland and the Finnish mark was brought into use too. The Estonian mark became the legal tender in 1920.

"The name kroon came from the Swedish krona, and the Estonian kroon came into circulation for the first time on January 1, 1928, although it had already been confirmed as the legal tender in 1924 when it was first used in foreign exchange," Ojasalu said.

The Estonian kroon note, which began circulating in 1928, had a 0.39 gram gold guarantee and was tied to the English pound. Estonian kroons were taken out of circulation in 1940.

Although Estonia regained independence in 1991, Russian rubles were used until the middle of 1992. Estonian kroons were reintroduced on June 20, 1992. In 1989, when Moscow agreed on the economic autonomy of the Baltic countries, a design competition was held. The winners of the competition were Vladimir Taiger for the design of the 5-kroon and higher-denomination notes and Urmas Ploomipuu for his design idea of 1- and 2-kroon notes.

The coin design winners were Mari Kabin and Enn Johannes.

Minting preparation rights were given to Kabin.

He originally designed a cornflower for the obverse side of the coin, but only trial coins with this design were minted.

Finally, it was decided to stamp the coin's obverse side with the Estonian coat of arms.

The new 1-kroon coins are now minted in Finland, and the new 20-cent and 10-cent coins are minted in South Africa.

The 5-kroon, 50-cent and 5-cent coins are minted in Estonia.

The 1-kroon coin minted to commemorate the Estonian Song Festival in 1999 is an alloy of copper, aluminum, zinc and tin. The coin measures 23.25 millimeters in diameter and weighs five grams. The edge of the coin was designed by sculptor Mati Karmin.

The present series of commemorative coins includes 10-kroon, 100-kroon and 500-kroon versions minted for the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 1998. The coins were designed by Margus Kadarik and depict scenes from the national epic "Kalevipoeg."

The reverse side bears a barn swallow, the Estonian national bird, and bears the date 1918-1998.

The 1- and 2-kroon notes are printed in the United States; the 5-, 10- and 50-kroon notes in England and the new 100-kroon and 500-kroon notes are printed in Germany.

Presently 58 million bank notes and 234 million coins with a total value of 7.2 billion kroons ($423.53 million) are in circulation. In 1992, the total value of notes and coins in circulation was only 600 million kroons.

Eesti Pank's museum provides a detailed glimpse of the evolution of Estonian money from 1918 to the present. The life-like wax statue of Juri Jaakson, the longest serving president of the bank in the prewar days, is also worthy of praise. Different designs of future euro notes designed by students of the Tallinn Art Academy are also on display at the museum.