Imperial Russia provides this week’s August ANA World’s Fair of Money highlight coin. Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio is proud to showcase a beautiful gold piece from the brief reign of the first Russian Empress, Catherine I. In the brief span of her life she managed to rise from peasant origins to become Empress of Russia. Catherine worked in various households until she worked for Prince Alexander Menshikov, the best friend of Tsar Peter the Great. Peter quickly took her as his mistress, secretly married her, and when she helped save him and his empire through negotiations, he married her publicly. She became the Tsarina and when Peter the Great established the Russian Empire, she rose to Empress. In the year before his death Peter named Catherine his co-ruler, and he died without naming a successor. The “new men” – commoners raised to positions of power based on competency – helped secure Catherine’s succession, and ruled through the Supreme Privy Council. Catherine was more than a mere puppet of this council, and was able to lower taxes by reducing military expenditures, earning popularity among the masses. Catherine’s greatest achievement lay in the precedent she set: that women could rule Imperial Russia. The century that followed would almost entirely be dominated by women as Elizabeth and Catherine the Great each continued Peter the Great’s policies of modernizing Russia.
Catherine ruled and struck coins with her portraiture for only a brief two years, and as such her coins – and especially the gold pieces – are scarce. The two Rubles was the only denomination of gold coinage struck by Catherine, with this particular coin being the rare first year of issue. The obverse features a cuirassed bust of Catherine facing left, adorned by a crown. The Cyrillic legend states: “Catherine, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias” with the plural “Russias” having historical significance and usage dating back to 1700 and even earlier. The reverse features an image of the patron saint of Russia, Saint Andrew. He is depicted standing facing on a low base, robed and adorned with a halo. St. Andrew is holding his famous x-shaped cross behind him. The reverse inscription reads: “New Coin weight 2 Rubles 17-26.” This lovely gold coin is a very nice example for the type, lustrous and attractive. The coin is NGC certified AU-58 and is tied for second highest graded by NGC. This scarce gold two Rubles piece is an exceptional piece and a real highlight of our upcoming August ANA auction in Chicago.
Look for this and other world numismatic pieces in our upcoming August ANA Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine California or New York City. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580