While coin collecting is a hobby for all, the scope and quality of coin collections can depend a great deal on taste, budget, and accessibility. It is a dream of many collectors to put together a cabinet of such scope and import that its name is still referenced years after the coinage is dispersed. Some of the most famous pedigrees still inspire awe: Brand, Hutton-Czapski, Eliasberg, Norweb, and Farouk are among this number. Most such collections were assembled by a wealthy elite, sometimes even royalty. Among these is the collection of the Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich who assembled one of the most impressive cabinets of Russian coinage.
Born in 1863 in the modern-day Republic of Georgia, Mikhailovich was the first cousin of Emperor Alexander III, and a member of the Romanov ruling dynasty. Born as an upper crust elite in Imperial Russia, Mikhailovich was ensured a life of wealth and power vastly outstripping that of the normal citizen. Mikhailovich is alleged to have started collecting coins at the age of 14, and shortly thereafter his collection numbered more than 700 pieces. This early enthusiasm never waned throughout his adult life, and by the time of his death, his collection comprised more than 11,000 items. Mikhailovich gathered some of the most rare and desirable pieces in all Russian numismatics, and his collection was considered perhaps the most comprehensive collection of Russian issues ever assembled. The book cataloging his collection, The Corpus of Russian Coins, has become a standard reference for Russian coins.
The Grand Duke's life, along with the life of his Romanov family was irrevocably changed by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent seizure of power by the Bolsheviks. As a member of the bourgeoisie, his life was endangered, though it seems the Romanovs could not anticipate the brutality that would befall them under the Soviets. The abdicated Tsar and his family were executed in Siberia in 1918, with George's brother Sergei executed the following day for resisting the attempt to throw him alive into a mineshaft. In 1919, George met the same fate as his family members, executed by firing squad in Petrograd along with his other brother Nicholas. In the words of Winston Churchill "the Bolsheviks can be very cruel." After his death, the collection of the Grand Duke was distributed widely across Europe and North America, with portions ending up in private hands and other specimens now residing in the Hermitage and Smithsonian.
Among the many coins once in the collection of the Grand Duke Mikhailovich is a 1774-CNB 5 Rubles graded MS-61 by NGC that is offered as lot 1542 in the 2022 New York International Numismatic Convention Auction. This piece was also part of the famous collection of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski and bears his stamp on the obverse. Another phenomenal piece tied to the collection of the Grand Duke is a Silver Medal given to visitors to the 1887-1909 exhibition of the Mikhailovich coin collection. This charming and beautiful medal is graded Specimen-63 by PCGS and is the first recorded medal of the type from 1887 known to have been auctioned publicly. Both pieces offer the modern collector a chance to add their name to an illustrious pedigree and be included in the historic legacy of coin collecting.
These stunning numismatic treasures, along with the entire January 2022 NYINC auction is available for viewing and bidding at StacksBowers.com, where you can also see our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings. We are always seeking world and ancient coins, medals, and paper money for our auctions, and are currently accepting consignments for our Spring 2022 Hong Kong auction and our Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auctions. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact a consignment director or email [email protected] today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.