Russian Banknotes by Christopher Dahncke – Currency Auction Associate, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
One of the more intriguing notes offered in the Stack’s Bowers August 2020 Auction is a P-39Ba 1919 Russian Provisional Government 50 Rubles Credit Note, graded Very Fine 25 EPQ by PMG and retaining fully original paper from 100 years ago.
Two allegorical women are seen on the face of the Russian banknote, one seated on a square containing the denomination, with the other standing and holding an object. The number “50” can be counted an astounding 94 times on the face of the note, making up the border design and seen in each corner. A multicolored design surrounds the “50” obligation at the center, with a detailed lathe workaround.
1919 was a turbulent year for the newly formed Russian Soviet Republic. The White Army was still engaged in a bitter war of attrition with the Reds in the South of Russia. British and American Expeditionary Forces were fighting alongside the Whites against the Bolsheviks in the North of Russia, and the Red Army steamrolled the White Army in Siberia.
During the Russian Civil War, many regions and Provisional Governments issued currency before the State Bank of the R.S.F.S.R. (later the State Bank of the U.S.S.R.) began issuing currency in 1921. This was part of Vladimir Lenin’s New Economic Policy. Lenin himself would describe the State Bank as a “bureaucratic paper game”, and nothing more than a “Potemkin Village”; he wished to make people believe the newly formed R.S.F.S.R. was faring quite well when in reality, it was not.
Specimens of this Russian banknote type are rarely encountered, with PMG having graded just seven pieces of the P-39Bs variety and only two of the P-39Ba variety. This note is fully issued, with serial numbers and block numbers, and has gained PMG’s EPQ designation; the other P-39Ba note is graded VF-25 but without the EPQ qualifier. The Provisional Government seal is on the reverse of the note. It had only existed for around seven months: from the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917, until the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks gained full power and established a new government.
It is a miracle this note was spared destruction during the revolution and later purges of material. It will surely be the centerpiece of any collection of Russian paper money it enters. If this note could talk, we can only imagine the stories it could tell and the history it has witnessed. We expect to see spirited bidding on this lot. Желаю удачи!
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The Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2020 World Paper Money Auction will take place on August 5, and will be posted online for viewing, bidding, and bidder registration at StacksBowers.com on July 10. For more information on viewing lots or assistance in registering to bid, contact Info@stacksbowers.com.