By Kyle Ponterio – Stack’s Bowers Auctions ……
This week’s highlight from our August 2017 Official Auction at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Denver, Colorado is a gold medal commemorating the birth of Alexander I. Not many related Russian medals are known to have been struck in gold and are unlisted in Mikhail Diakov’s impressive work Medals of the Russian Empire.
As a follow up to last week’s highlight about the coronation of Paul I, this week we highlight the birth of his first son Alexander Pavlovich, who would become Alexander I. The obverse of the offered gold medal depicts the crowned and laureate bust of Catherine II (the Great) right, legend around. The reverse displays a crowned robed female with arm extending toward beams of light facing left holding an infant, altar and shield with the arms of Russia to left, legend to left, four line inscription in exergue.
Alexander I, born Alexander Pavlovich was the first child of Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich (Paul I) and Grand Duchess Maris Fyodorvna. He was raised by his grandmother Empress Catherine II (the Great), who had disinherited her own son (Paul I) due to his instability. Alexander received a fine education from Frederic-Cesar La Harpe, who was an excellent teacher.
When Alexander reached adolescence he was allowed to visit his father at Gatchina on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, where he received his military training from Aleksey Andreyevich, to whom he became quite attached and whom Alexander loved throughout his life. When Catherine II died Paul I ascended the throne and plunged Russia into a dark period with his tyrannical and bizarre behavior. After a five-year reign Paul I was assassinated during the night of March 23 (March 11, Old style) and Alexander became tsar the following day.
The new Emperor was seen as a radiant dawn after the darkness of his father giving his people new hope. He was very well liked by his subjects and made vast improvements to his country, correcting many of the injustices of his father. One of his principal achievements was the reform of public education and he founded three new universities. At one point he considered a constitution that would limit the autocracy, but feared the backlash of the nobility. When his estranged wife fell ill he decided to take her to Taganrog on the Azov Sea where they were content. While in Taganrog he decided to tour the Crimea for inspection and contracted either pneumonia or malaria. He died on his return to Taganrog.
We are no longer accepting consignments for our August 2017 Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money. We are, however, currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for our October Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction and our January 2018 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) Auction. 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.