Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 31

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Lot 1868

Russia. Sestroretsk Ruble, 1771. Br-317, edge type-2; Bitkin-880. Novodel. 1030.6 grams. 75.9 mm wide and 26.8 mm thick from a first type sawed planchet.

This amazing artifact is the world's largest round copper coin. Throughout numismatic history, the most interesting and unusual issues are often the result of the economic necessities of war. In order to finance her campaigns, Catherine II instituted an issue of paper assignats in 1769. These were to be backed by and fully exchangeable for copper currency and it was proposed that a copper ruble could be more efficiently produced than the equivalent of twenty 5 kopeck pieces. It was also surmised that not too many holders of the paper assignats would ask to exchange them for the large and heavy copper coins. Thus the law was enacted in 1770 calling for the issue of copper rubles. Production was to take place at the Military Ordnance Works at Sestroretsk, near St. Petersburg, because the heavy machinery required to produce the massive 1000 gram planchets was already in place. Because of the thickness of the required planchets, it was decided to saw them from copper rods of the appropriate diameter. This proved excessivley difficult and an alternate procedure whereby planchets were cast, then lathed to the needed specifications was tried. Sawing was too difficult and casting/lathing was too expensive. No one anticipated the many technical problems involved in production and after 8 years of experimentation and frustration, the few original test samples were sent to the Senate and the dies were stored at the St. Petersburg Mint.

The type is known with two dates, 1700 and 1771. A very few novodels were struck from original dies during the 1840s and 1850s with newly made collars as the original collars had been lost. This novodel is from a sawed planchet which is rarer than those of the cast & lathed variety. The few known original specimens are now housed in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. Here then is a rare opportunity to acquire the world's rarest copper coin and among the rarest and most famous of all the world's coins. An opportunity not to be missed as it may be many years before we see another offered for public sale. Uncirculated.
Estimated Value $60,000 - 80,000.
The Dr. Robert D. Hesselgesser Collection, Ex-Detroit Museum Collection.


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