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Latvia celebrates its capital city

The first in a series of eight sterling silver proofs celebrating the 800th anniversary of the founding of Riga, capital city of Latvia, has been struck by the British Royal Mint and is available to collectors in North America. A mintage of only 8,000 pieces has been authorized.

Each coin will represent a century in the history of Riga. The first, representing the 13th Century, features Bishop Albert, founder and first biship of Riga. The reverse carries a portrait of the bishop holding a scepter, and the obverse has a representation of the first seal of Riga, showing the city wall with tower and open gate. The date, 1995, and the denomination, 10 latu, are shown at the base.

The coin has a diameter of 38.61 millimeters and weighs 31.47 grams. The price is $49.50.

The Riga-800 Collection will consist of eight coins, and two coins will be issued each year.

Latvia, which has been dominated by Russia, Sweden, Poland and Germany for much of its long history, declared its independence from Russia Aug. 22, 1991.

Address orders and inquiries to the British Royal Mint, P.O. Box 772570, Woodside, NY 11377-2570, or call (800) 221-1215. Include $3.95 postage and handling per order.