A numismatic collection in Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum

Minijus Pučėta

Data about money market in the area of Kupiškis and coins being in circulation from the 2nd half of the 15th century to the 17th century are revealed from 143 coins found during archaeological investigations and stored in a numismatic collection at the Kupiškis Ethnographic Museum. 138 coins had been found in ancient cemeteries and only 5 ones in Palėvenė Dominican Monastery. They are identified according to their denomination, ownership by a certain sovereign and coin mint. Six denominations of coins singled out as manufactured at the rule of 14 sovereigns of the state by 10 mints have been defined correctly, and three ones are unidentified.

It can be stated that, from the 2nd half of the 15th century to the 1st half of the 16th century local coins prevailed there, as in all areas of the then Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They were manufactured at the Vilnius mint: denars of Kazimieras Jogailaitis (Casimir IV), polgroszes (half-grosz) of Aleksandras Jogailaitis (Alexander I Jagiellon) and Žygimantas Senasis (Sigismund I of Poland), denars, 2-denars, polgroszes and groszes of Žygimantas Augustas (Sigismund II Augustus). A certain part of the money market was occupied by coins from other countries, such as Louis II Silesian polgroszes of Liudvikas II (Louis II, Ludwik Jagiellonczyk).

From the 2nd half of the 16th century more foreign coins appeared in this area, such as Gotthard Ketler's 2-denars; as well as from the end-16th century Riga's schillings of Zigmantas III Vaza (Sigismund III Vasa) were more often met here. This seems to have been caused by geographic proximity of Riga and numerous issue of these coins. As for Lithuanian coins manufactured in Vilnius at the rule of this sovereign, only few of them have been found in the ancient cemeteries.

The findings in the 17th century cemeteries show that the coin market in Kupiškis area was filled by coins from Swedish sovereigns in Riga and Livonia, especially schillings issued by Kristina. However, decisions made solely on ancient cemetery findings do not reveal the undoubtedly dominating role of Jonas Kazimieras (John II Casimir Vasa) inflation schillings in mid-17th century.
The numismatic data from the sites in the area of Kupiškis show that the regularities of money circulation from the 2nd half of the 15th century to the 17th century basically correspond to general situation of Lithuania of that period.