18,000 museum pieces

The means of payment in circulation in Estonia since 1918 – i.e. from the beginning of the country’s first period of independence up to today – are preserved in the museum collection. They form part of the unique cultural heritage of Estonia. The museum has an almost complete collection of the means of payment that are and have been used in Estonia, including payment notes from the Clearing House of Tallinn, treasury bills of the Republic of Estonia bearing a 5% interest rate, tokens, the first real money of Estonia (marks and pennies), the first kroons and cents following the monetary reform of 1928, money used after the monetary reforms of 1992 and euro banknotes and coins of all Member States. In addition to the history of money, we also preserve documents, photos and objects related to the activities and history of Eesti Pank. Some of these are displayed in the museum. For instance, the Bank Nationalisation Act of 1940, designs and means of preparation of money, photos of management members of the bank, work equipment of employees and things given to them as gifts are displayed.

The history of Eesti Pank is documented from the period of the first Republic of Estonia and the establishment of the bank (24 February 1919 to 10 October 1940) and again from the re-establishment of the central bank on 1 January 1990 onwards.

The first pieces registered in the central bank’s museum were the Nationalisation Act of Eesti Pank from 1940 and the yearbooks of the bank from its first years of operation. After this the first collection of means of payment was acquired from a private collector. Thanks to private collectors and people’s initiative, the museum has been able to add to the collections on a regular basis, but other museums – and luck! – have also contributed to the improvement of our collections.

Outstanding pieces

In late 2000 we found original printing plates of ten-kroon banknotes printed in 1940 from a hiding place under a shelf more than ten centimetres above the floor during the removal of old shelves in the repository of Eesti Pank. The plates were probably hidden there after the occupation of Estonia in 1940. These should have been destroyed, as happened with the ten-kroon banknotes already printed. As a result of this brave act of an unknown employee of Eesti Pank, the intaglio plates of the ten-kroon banknote completed in 1940 have been preserved and are stored in the museum. Eesti Pank issued a collector’s banknote in 2008 on the basis of these plates.

The museum archives include a lot of personal materials of people connected with Eesti Pank – e.g. the materials of Rein Otsason, the first governor of Eesti Pank from the time of restoration of independence, and of Raimund Hagelberg, a long-standing member of the Supervisory Board and advisor to the bank. One of the most exciting documents is the war-time journal of Paul Virak, head of the Clearing House of Eesti Pank, from the 1930s, offering a detailed description of conditions at the time.

A festive presentation of photos of the members of Otto Tief’s government and five senior public officials was held in 2007 in Tief’s former office (on the second floor of the museum) in Eesti Pank. Their descendants participated in the event. The presentation was extraordinary for the museum, as Jaak Maandi and Anne Maandi-Callius – the son and daughter of Secretary of State Helmut Maandi – were in attendance. They donated money to the museum which was handed over to their father as a member of the government by Hugo Pärtelpoeg, Minister of Finance, on Puise beach in September 1944 prior to his fleeing to Sweden.

Museum collections in numbers

The museum holds more than 18,000 pieces, around three-quarters of which consist of banknotes and coins. The collections are divided into documents, objects and photos.

The document collection mostly contains banknotes (original and test money), securities, printed matter and works submitted to money design competitions, annual reports and statistical collections of the bank.

The objects collection mainly consists of coins (coins for circulation and collector coins), works submitted to money design competitions, plaster models, bankcards, books, waxworks, printing plates, other objects used in the work of the bank and gifts.

The photo collection includes photos, photo albums, CDs and video cassettes.

Since 2003 the museum has been storing the gifts made by students from Sally Stuudio for their contemporaries in 50 years’ time (‘Gifts for the Future’): pictures, figures and artwork created using mixed techniques. The gifts will be presented in the Art Museum of Estonia on 19 October 2053. 132 pieces are being held, and following the expiry of their term of storage an exhibition will be organised.

Examining the museum’s collections

Pieces in the collection can be borrowed and copied and also examined on site.

  1. Copying museum pieces for commercial purposes: making images and providing them for use for commercial purposes, e.g. publication of an image in printed matter and use in television or film or on the Internet. This service is subject to a fee.
  2. Copying museum pieces for academic purposes: making images of museum pieces and providing them for use for non-commercial purposes, e.g. academic research, school papers, regional studies and other private research (students and teachers). This service is free of charge.
  3. Depositing a museum piece: for exhibiting or use by other museums, institutions, legal entities and individuals (if the required conditions are met)
  4. Examining museum pieces on site: the pieces in the repository can be examined upon prior arrangement. Please contact the museum to do so.

For further information, call +372 668 0760 or e-mail [email protected].