A 1929 Latvian 5-lati struck at the Royal Mint in London of .835 silver, with a diameter of 37mm and weighing 25.00g. The portrait is the likeness of government worker Zelma Brauere (b.1900-d.1977), but “Milda” is the usual name for the woman on the coin.
The strong appeal of these beautiful big pieces of silver is undeniable, and they’ve been a favorite of very many folks for many years. This 5-lati series runs from 1929-1932, with a total production of 3,600,000 coins. They’ve led eventful lives—even though they circulated for only about a decade.
Very many of these coins immediately became souvenirs of the new country’s existence, and when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, it is said that many more of these 5-lati pieces went underground as symbols of a sleeping Latvia. (Both reasons these coins survive in large numbers today.)
And then I’ve read that large numbers of these coins were seized by the Soviets themselves in 1940 and became a part of the Soviet Union’s monetary reserves. Which at least saved them from the German invasion of Latvia in 1941 (after which—if what is said about Latvian families and their widespread fondness for these coins is true—then many of these 5-lati pieces must have been witness to some scenes of immense sadness.)
Of course many of the 5-lati pieces that survived the war in private hands remained underground for another several decades, until Latvia awoke. Throughout those years, their edge lettering was always hopeful: “DIEVS SVETI LATVIJU,” that is, “God Bless Latvia.”