Eesti Pank is issuing a silver coin for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Admiral Johan Pitka



  • Three thousand of the coins have been minted
  • Each coin will cost 45 euros and have a nominal value of 15 euros
  • The coin will go on sale at 13.00 on 19 February in the Omniva online shop
  • The shop of the museum of Eesti Pank will start to sell the coin from 8 March

On 19 February Eesti Pank will release a silver collector coin to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Admiral Johan Pitka. Pitka was a sea-going captain and Rear Admiral, and he founded the Defence League, the Border Guard and the Estonian Navy. He played a key role in the War of Independence as leader of the Estonian naval forces.

The coin shows a portrait of Johan Pitka, the years 1872–1944 that he lived, and a fragment of a blue, black and white flag. The coin was designed by Tiiu Pirsko and Mati Veermets, and the coins were minted by the Lithuanian mint.

Johan Pitka was born on 19 February 1872 in Järvamaa, and he grew up in a family that breathed the spirit of the national awakening. He went to sea at an early age and studied to become captain of deep-sea vessels. He went into business, but the First World War put an end to that. When the War of Independence started, he threw himself into organising the Estonian military forces, and he created the Defence League. Pitka’s men were among those who drove the Bolsheviks out of power in Tallinn and elsewhere on 24 February 1918 and declared an independent Republic of Estonia. Pitka personified the spirit of the War of Independence, leading the naval forces and helping create the armoured trains that became the strike units of the Estonian military forces. He lived in Canada for some time after the war before returning to Estonia, where he sat in the National Constituent Assembly and headed a central association of Estonian cooperative associations. When Estonian independence was extinguished in 1940, Pitka fled to Finland, where he started to prepare to liberate Estonia from the Soviet occupiers. After they let Pitka slip through their fingers, the Soviet authorities tried unsuccessfully to break his three sons, who were shot in a Siberian prison camp in 1942. In 1944, Pitka came back to Estonia to start a new War of Independence. Groups of Estonian soldiers and Pitka’s units tried to hold up the tanks of the red army as they approached Tallinn, but they were not able to do so for long. Johan Pitka died in 1944 and the exact circumstances of his death and his final resting place are unknown.

Sales of the coin

  • The coins dedicated to Johan Pitka will be on sale through the Omniva online store. Sales of the coin will start on Saturday 19 February at 13.00
  • Coins will be available to buy from the Eesti Pank museum shop from 8 March if they have not all sold out through the online store and if the circumstances of the pandemic permit.
  • Each purchaser may buy up to five coins, and the coins cannot be reserved in advance.
  • The Omniva customer service can be contacted by telephone on 661 6616 or by email at [email protected] on working days from 09.00-20.00, and at weekends and on national holidays from 09.00–15.00
  • The Eesti Pank museum shop can be contacted on 6680 650

Further information:

  • The coin dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Johan Pitka is a collector coin. Collector coins are mostly made of precious metals and commemorate important events or people for the issuing country. Collector coins are only legal tender in the country of issue, They are not intended for circulation, but rather for collecting or as gifts, and their selling price usually exceeds their nominal value.

Additional information:
Ingrid Schmuul
Communications Specialist
Eesti Pank
Tel: 668 0965, 5697 9146
Press enquiries: [email protected]