In an offering of historic proportions, our Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money will feature in excess of 300 lots of Russian coins ranging in value from a few hundred dollars into the six-figure range. Condition and absolute rarities abound, and many coins are pedigreed to important collections such as the George Gund III Collection and the Demarete Collection. Much has already been written and publicized about lots 1545, 1546, and 1547, the 1895 pattern 1/3 Imperial of 5 Russ, 2/3 Imperial of 10 Russ, and the Imperial of 15 Russ from the Gund Collection. These extremely rare pattern coins, each with a reported mintage of five pieces, will draw much attention from specialists. The opportunity to acquire an example from this rare series does not often come around. The last offering, which had been off the market for 13 years, was 14 years ago. It may be another decade or more before another comes to market, so be sure to bid aggressively if you plan to add these to your holding.
The Russian section begins with lot 1389, and continues through 1573. The first coin highlighted is lot 1401, a Quarter Ruble of Peter the Great. This extremely rare coin, not dated but from 1702, is PCGS-graded as EF-40, with deep charcoal-slate toning in the periphery accenting lighter reliefs, creating a “circ-cam” appearance. Another Peter the Great rarity is lot 1411, a lovely, near-gem gold Two Ruble of 1720, graded MS-64 by PCGS. This exceptionally well-preserved example is currently the finest graded by either NGC or PCGS, and is “remarkably choice…for the type, with good color, original luster and a sharp strike.” An impressive silver Two Ruble “Novodel” of Peter the Great, struck at the Kadashevsky mint in Moscow and dated 1722 is graded MS-62 (NGC). This coin is one of a mintage of only 20 pieces and “the surfaces and overall details, as well as evidence of multiple strikings suggest special preparation…” This type only exists in Novodel form, and was never issued for general circulation.
Catherine I was Czarina from 1725-27, and her portrait graces the obverse of lot 1426, a lovely Mint State Ruble of 1726, graded MS-62 by PCGS. The Rubles of her reign are scarce, particularly so in such exceptional condition. Well struck, with light toning and subdued silvery luster, this example will be a great representative for the type in a Russian Ruble type set. A lovely AU-55, NGC-certified Ruble of Ivan VI, dated 1741, appears as lot 1442. This period of Russian history was quite tumultuous and rife with political intrigue after his mother, Empress Anna died in October 1740. The infant was named emperor. Elizabeth Petrovna seized power in a coup dethroning the baby Ivan, in November 1741, thus any coin struck during his short reign as Czar is quite scarce. Elizabeth Petrovna wanted to eradicate Ivan from the Russian people’s memory, and she used his Rubles as planchet stock to strike her coinage. Evidence of the undertype can be seen in lot 1443, a Ruble of 1742 graded AU-55 by PCGS. This so-called “hybrid ruble” is extremely rare and historically significant, and a real prize for the specialist in Russian coins.
Arguably Catherine II “The Great” is one of Imperial Russia’s most revered and famous rulers. Her reign saw an expansion of the Russian economy and prestige. A wonderful, nearly Mint State “heavy weight standard” Five Ruble, dated 1763/2 and graded AU-58 by PCGS is featured as lot 1458. It is an extremely rare and is exceptionally well made with a full strike and bold golden, lustrous surfaces. The heavy weight standard was issued only for two years of Catherine’s reign, 1762 and 1763, and planchets weighed in at 8.27 grams. The following year, the standard weight was reduced to 6.54 grams, and with that reduction, many of the heavier coins disappeared from circulation to be re-coined. Another lovely Catherine the Great 5 Ruble, lot 1468, is dated 1782 and graded AU-55 by PCGS with nice peripheral luster and toning.
An 1802 10 Ruble (lot 1487), an example from a rare three-year type, in pleasing VF-35 by PCGS is a popular collector quality coin. It has pleasing gold surfaces, but is struck on a planchet that has a few mint-made flaws. Lot 1502, one of the most popular of the 19th century rarities in the Russian series, is a Platinum 12 Ruble dated 1832 from the St. Petersburg mint. This lovely Mint State example is one of only 1,102 struck, many of which did not survive the ravages of Russian history. This example, graded MS-61 by PCGS, is a lovely representative of the type, using platinum that was discovered in the Ural Mountains of western Siberia. Coins struck in platinum were authorized in denominations of 3 and 6 Rubles in the imperial decree of April 24, 1828 and the 12 Rubles were authorized on September 12, 1830. A rare Proof 25 Kopek of 1895, the finest certified by NGC or PCGS, (Proof-66 NGC) is featured as lot 1543 and was previously part of the famous cabinet of Russian coins formed by Dr. Hesselgesser.
Between these highlighted coins of note, there are dozens of other important coins, many from the Demarete Collection. Additional Russian coins will be offered in our online session, which closes on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 12. This is one of the most extensive offerings of Russian coins to appear at auction. With the market for Russian rarities very healthy, we expect this historic and important group to bring strong prices, perhaps record prices on more than just a few examples. If Russian coins are your specialty, be sure to take the time to review the coins during our lot viewing sessions and be sure to get to the auction gallery early on the morning of Thursday, August 7, as the room will likely be filled with interested bidders. If you have any special needs such as review by one of our numismatic experts, phone bidding, increased bid limits, etc., be sure to contact us as soon as possible so we can offer you the very best service. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting in any way that we can.