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9,000 Russian coins up for auction
By Igor Shneyderov
July 29, 2014

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Sincona AG in Zurich is preparing the third installment in their series of auctions of one of the greatest collections of Imperial Russian coins to come to market in the past 100 years.

The Sincona collection, consisting of around 9,000 coins (6500 in silver and 2500 in copper), covers mostly the Imperial period, beginning with Peter I in 1700 and continuing through to the end of the reign of the last and unfortunate Tsar, Nicholas II in 1917.

The auction will be held Oct. 13-14 in Zurich.

Although the size and scope of the collection is certainly impressive, it is the quality and rarity of many of the coins – some offered only once in a lifetime – that set this collection apart and distinguish this as a landmark set of sales in Russian numismatics.

The first two auctions (2012 and 2013) made quite a splash in the coin market. To mention a few lots that surpassed the $1 million mark:

• 1740 pattern rouble of Ivan realized $4,437,730 (a record for a Russian coin)

• 1827 quarter-rouble of Alexander I – $2,246,800

• 1808 quarter-rouble of Alexander I – $1,096,000

Of course not everything in the two prior auctions was sold at these levels, and many attractive – but much more affordable – coins were accessible to collectors. I even managed to secure a few coins for my own collection.

While the upcoming sale is also filled with a great mix of coins for every taste and budget, it is the rarities that capture the imagination. One that immediately comes to mind is the 1886 Pattern Rouble of Alexander III by L. Shteinmann. This coin was one of several pattern portraits being prepared by Shteinmann and A.G. Griliches, coins which would be the first in 90 years to show the portrait of the Tsar. Ultimately, one of the pattern Roubles by Griliches was chosen for production.

While the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., has the full set, the excessively rare Shteinmann pattern offered here last appeared in the 1968 auction by Hess Leu in Luzern. There should be no surprise, if the million dollar mark is exceeded once again.

Another great rarity to be offered is a Russo-Polish 1827 Pattern 10 Zlotych with a portrait of Alexander I and the initials of the Warsaw Mint Master IB. From 1816 to 1834 Poland was under Russian rule and the Russo-Polish issues of this period displayed the portrait of Alexander I, even though portraits were not used on coins in Russia proper at the time. Interestingly, the use of Alexander’s portrait continued on Russo-Polish issues even after his death in 1825. The only other example of this coin that we know of was in the collection of Count I.I. Tolstoy, sold in Frankfurt in 1913 by Adolph Hess Nachfolger.

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