Latvian central bank blows bubble fibula onto coin collectors' market

Take note – story published 5 years and 6 months ago

On Thursday, 8 November, Latvijas Banka will be issuing a new gold collector coin named "Gold Brooches. The Bubble Fibula" with a face value of 75 euros but which will actually cost you 560 euros.

The coin replicating a "bubble fibula" (of which more below) is the last one in the series of euro gold collector coins dedicated to Latvia's centenary.

In November 2016, the collector coin replicating a disc fibula was issued; the coin featuring a horseshoe fibula was minted in August 2017; and this year the series is concluded with a special gold collector coin, adorned with crystals. Moreover, a set of all three gold coins will also be available.

So what, precisely is a fibula, bubble or otherwise? In this case, it is nothing to do with shin-bones. The central bank explains:

"For several centuries bubble fibulae were characteristic for the territory of the present-day Latvia: the luxurious brooches worn by women represented not just ordinary jewelry but also significant value of that time. They became an integral part of the Latvian national costumes. Latvijas Banka's gold collector coin dedicated to bubble fibula."

The coin was minted by Münze Österreich Aktiengesellschaft (Austria) and the reverse features a stylised image of a 17th century bubble fibula.

"The history of the brooch in the territory of Latvia began with various brooches from the early Iron Age (1st–4th century AD) – the so-called eye fibulae, tutulus fibulae, cross-ribbed fibulae, arbalest fibulae and round disc fibulae with openwork wheel, cross and fire cross motifs. The older brooches were imported, but soon the local craftsmen began to use them as models to make their own brooches, with their form reflecting the local aesthetic and mental concepts. Brooches were used to fasten and adorn clothing by all – men, women and children. The form of and ornamentation on brooches also served a protective function (jewelry as amulet). The form, size and material may have changed, yet the brooches have remained popular until the present day," explains the central bank.

"It was in the 17th century that the range of Latvian jewlery was supplemented by a new type of fibulae that gradually emerged from the range of various ring fibulae popular in past centuries. Their circle featured hemispheric elevations or bubbles, which gave the name to the jewellery – the bubble fibulae," it continues.

"The large, luxurious bubble fibulae were made of silver and often they were even gold plated. The bubble fibulae represented one of the most gorgeous jewelry of Latvian women. The names of fibulae owners and the year of their making or the year they were given as a gift were often carved on them."

"The bubble fibulae were common throughout the territory of Latvia, although the way they were decorated and their wearing traditions were slightly different. For instance, it was in South Courland where two or more such fibulae, not just one, were fastened to the shawl. They were placed one on top of the other according to their size and topped with a silk ribbon. Wealthy Latvian female farmers were proud of their luxurious brooches, which were often handed down from generation to generation. Such fibulae have often been preserved by families up to the present day as relics of their ancestors," concludes the central bank.

From 8 November, the new coin will be on sale online via Latvijas Banka's website for purchases of collector coins and other numismatic products and at the Cashier's Offices of Latvijas Banka at K. Valdemāra iela 1B in Riga and Teātra iela 3 in Liepāja.

The price of the coin at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices and via is 560.00 euro. The maximum mintage of the coin is limited to 1000. On 8 November, only the first 400 coins will be available for purchase.

The collector coin "Gold Brooches. The Bubble Fibula" is legal tender in the Republic of Latvia, but clearly you would have to be bubble-brained to pay for your groceries with it.

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