Vatican City had been issuing coins of a value on par with the Italian lire throughout much of the 20th century. Despite the fact that many of these Vatican issues have low mintages, the public interest in them remained shallow. Once the European Union euro coinage was adopted by Italy the Vatican simply changed its coinage to euros by default rather than because of the city-state having become an EU member itself.
A new base of collectors focusing on collecting euro coins was born at the same time as was the euro. It was at that point that collectors realized just how few euro coins were being issued annually by the Vatican in comparison to other eurozone issuing nations, making the Vatican issues perhaps the most sought after euro coin series by collectors.
With the entry of the Baltic state of Estonia into the European Union’s currency union this might change. Estonia issued its first euro coins May 2, however only 1- and 2-cent coins were released, and these with a total face value of only 750,000 euros. According to the Eesti Pank or Bank of Estonia, the higher denominations will not be ordered (The coins are being struck at the Royal Dutch Mint.) during 2012.
The central bank released a statement in which the bank indicated the coins now released should “cover the demand for the smallest change for the next couple of years.”
Estonia may not be as small as is the Vatican, but as a small nation it has issued coins intermittently rather than annually since achieving independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. (This is true of the other Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania as well.)
The fact these are coins that will circulate as money, whereas Vatican City coins are more likely to be encountered in a souvenir shop on one side of St. Peters Square, may make a difference to collectors, especially since none of Estonia’s modern circulation coins have been issued in large quantities. Estonia will likely continue to issue significantly smaller quantities of coins for circulation than will other member nations now involved in the EU’s currency union.
The modern Estonian 5 senti was only been issued with three dates, the 10 senti with nine dates, 20 senti with eight dates, 50 senti with four dates, 1 kroon with nine dates, and the 5 krooni with two dates.
Estonia’s parliament simply voted to become independent of the failing Soviet Union in 1991 at a time when the Soviet Union was in no position to stop them. Estonia’s modern coinage was introduced during 2002 although some of the coins are dated 2001. The 20 senti was introduced during 1997, while issuance of the 5 senti ceased after 1994. The 5 senti remained legal tender, however the copper-nickel 1 kroon of 1992, 1993, and 1995 were no longer legal tender, having been demonetized on May 31, 1998. The 5-krooni denomination was reserved for commemoratives.
The coins issued by Estonia during its period of independence between World War I and World War II is a short set, again only having been issued intermittently and never in large quantities.
During the period of the Estonian republic between 1918 and 1941 coins were first issued in denominations of 1, 3, 5, and 10 marka, in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 senti, and in denominations of 1 and 2 krooni following a currency reform in in 1928. At that time highest production figure was 23.5 million pieces for the 1929 1-sent coin.
The modern Estonian series appears to have repeated this scenario, the Estonian kroon replacing the Soviet ruble on June 20, 1992 at an official exchange rate of 10 Soviet rubles to one Estonian kroon. Each individual was able to exchange a maximum of 1,500 rubles to 150 kroons at that time.
When the kroon was first introduced it was pegged to the German mark at a rate of eight krooni to the mark. Once Germany adopted the euro the Estonian currency exchange rate became fixed at 15.64664 krooni to the euro.
The euro officially replaced the kroon as Estonia’s currency on Jan. 1, 2011, the kroon being demonetized 15 days later. Coins and bank notes in kroons can still be exchanged at the central bank.