Poet Veidenbaums gets commemorative coins

Latvia's central bank (Latvijas banka, LB) on October 3 marked the 150th centenary of the birth of pioneering poet Eduards Veidenbaums by putting him on a coin. 

Veidenbaum's short and sometimes tragic life nevertheless produced some of the most sublime poetry in the Latvian language.

In the words of the central bank:

"Eduards Veidenbaums (1867–1892) was a trailblazer in the Latvian literature. His literary models cannot be found in the modest landscape of the Latvian verse of the period; they derive from the peaks of the world literature – Horace, Schiller and Heine. He was the first Latvian whose poetic ideas did not focus on belonging to a certain community and praising its importance, but rather on the confrontation of a sovereign, self-esteemed individual with the reality. The first one to perceive and convey so deeply the issues of life, death and meaning of life, to highlight so boldly the social and ethical flaws that the literature of the period hardly touched upon due to the potential repressions of the tsarist regime and assumptions of the general public. Even when addressing trivial issues, the poet's vision remained sharp, he had a fascinating self-irony and sincerity. That is why his literary legacy can still touch our hearts."

"The set of two collector coins dedicated to Eduards Veidenbaums, issued by Latvijas Banka, is a tribute to the above," it adds.

Eduards Veidenbaums commemorative coin

When combined, the set of two coins forms a stylised image of the poet's famous pair of spectacles. The face value of each
silver coin is 2.5 euro but to buy the pair will cost you 80.00 euros. 3,000 examples have been minted in the Netherlands.

Eduards Veidenbaums belonged to the first generation of Latvian intellectuals for whom academic education was no longer a unique and rare case: Latvian peasants, having been freed from serfdom for half a century, tended to provide education to their children. However, at the time when Eduards Veidenbaums became a student of law at the University of Tartu (Dorpat), an economic crisis hit the Baltics. Even the well-tended and managed Kalāči, his family's farmstead, could not provide the student a care-free life. He had to economize on both food and clothes. This, combined with stress and strain, shattered the young man's health.

One December evening in 1891, when Eduards was on his way home from Tartu, the coat he was wearing was too thin and threadbare. Travelling from Cēsis to Kalāči for more than three hours, he caught a cold. It grew into tuberculous pneumonia cutting his life short the following spring.

Veidenbaums' legacy consisted of fewer than a hundred poems, including translated lyrics, several translations of short prose pieces, and four popular science articles on the history of law, electric lighting, theory of mechanics and economy. The diverse topics of the articles demonstrate his enviably broad range of interests.

The central bank has also made a film about the new coins.

 

The coins go on sale 5 October at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices (K. Valdemāra iela 1B in Riga and Teātra iela 3 in Liepāja) as well as online at the coin collecting site: www.e-monetas.lv which offers a wide range of collector coins and other numismatic products issued by Latvijas Banka.

The coinage commemoration is only one of a series of events taking place to mark the poets's birthday. Below you can listen to some of his poems set by contemporary artists.

 

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