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Extremely Rare Heavy Weight Standard Gold 5 Ruble of Catherine the Great

The golden age of Imperial Russia, the reign of Catherine II (the Great), provides this week’s highlight coin from the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio official auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction held in Chicago this August. Catherine II, though not Russian by birth, came into the position of Empress following a coup d’état and the assassination of her husband, Emperor Peter III, at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War. Russia earned a place among the great powers of Europe under her rule, thanks to her strategy of revitalization and expansion. Her council of advisors, including nobles, generals and admirals, assisted her greatly in the expansion of Russia, both through diplomatic means and military conquest. Catherine continued what Peter the Great started; the modernization of Russia into a more Western European society. In the first two years (1762-63) of her reign as Empress, the gold five Ruble denomination was set to a weight standard of approximately 8.27 grams. In 1764, the weight standard was lowered to 6.54 grams, and as a result the earlier, heavier 5 Rubles disappeared from circulation, becoming a very rare two-year type. The piece we feature here (dated 1763/2) is from a mintage of 7,515 pieces, by far the smaller mintage of the two dates. It is likely that much of the mintage was melted down once the lighter-weight 5 Rubles began to circulate.

The obverse of this coin shows a right facing crowned bust of Catherine II in a dignified pose. A Cyrillic legend surrounds the bust, and it translates to: “By the Grace of God, Catherine II, Empress, Autocrat of all the Russias”. The plural “Russias” is significant as it dates back to Peter I (the Great) and beyond as a term enumerating the various regions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus that were brought into the empire. Below the bust appears the “CMb” mint mark indicating St. Petersburg. The reverse of this coin displays an elegant display of four crowned shields. At the center of this design is the Imperial Double-headed eagle, with each head crowned with a third crown just above. Starting with the top shield, the arms displayed are as follows: The upper shield (mounted St. George defeating the dragon) represents Moscow, the arms of Kazan (crowned Zilant [winged dragon snake] facing left), the arms of Siberia (two sables supporting a crown, two arrows crossed), and finally the arms of Astrakhan (Crown over scimitar). The date of 1763/2 is displayed one digit in each of the four corners. Surrounding the display of the four shields is the Cyrillic inscription: “Imperial Russian coin, value: 5 Rubles”. This coin is encapsulated in a PCGS holder with a grade of AU-58, and is at the top of the grading population between NGC and PCGS for this overdate and type.

Look for this and other World and ancient numismatic rarities in our upcoming August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction and Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this July at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. Our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is still open for further consignments of world and ancient coins, and our 2014 August Hong Kong Showcase Auction and sale is still taking consignments of Asian coins as well. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

 

 

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