The Saint George the Victorious 50 Ruble gold bullion coin honors the famous Roman soldier and military officer vaunted in European legend and revered by Christians.
Born circa 275-281 CE, Saint George served in the Roman army and later became a Christian martyr after he refused to renounce his Christian faith before an emperor. Scholars debate many aspects of Saint George’s life as related in tradition–including the epic story in which he slays a dragon. However, most historians agree St. George did indeed exist and believe he was born to Christian parents of Greek heritage from either Turkey or Palestine.
George’s parents died when he was a teenager. Subsequently, he volunteered himself as a soldier in the service of Roman emperor Diocletian (ruled 284-305).
George climbed the military ranks and was made a Tribunus, serving as an imperial guard for the emperor in Nicomedia. On February 24, 303, Diocletian mandated the arrest of all Christian soldiers in his army and required all other soldiers to offer a sacrifice in the name of contemporary Roman gods. George refused to take part, even rejecting the emperor’s bribe of land and money.
Diocletian soon ordered his execution. On April 23, 303, George was beheaded.
Christians later honored George as a martyr, and in the 490s pope Gelasius canonized him as a saint.
The Central Bank of the Russian Federation introduced the St. George the Victorious 50 Ruble gold bullion coin to the public on February 1, 2006. The first year of the program saw mintages reach 150,000 pieces, and production steadily increased to as high as 1.5 million pieces in 2009. That was the year when the first Saint George the Victorious silver 3 Ruble coin was struck. The precious metal fineness in both the silver and gold coins is 99.9-percent pure, and with few exceptions the coins are struck in an uncirculated finish.
In August 2012, proof versions of the 50 Ruble gold coin, as well as a special 100 Ruble piece containing 15.55 grams of fine gold, were also issued.
The obverse of the 50 ruble gold coin features the two-headed eagle designed by noted Russian illustrator and revolutionary Ivan Bilibin in 1917. Bilibin’s eagle is essentially the same as the double-headed eagle that served as the imperial symbol of Russia except for the fact that the crowns have been removed from its two heads.
On this coin, it serves as the emblem of the Bank of Russia. Beneath the two-headed eagle is the inscription БАНК РОССИИ, a phrase translating to “BANK OF RUSSIA.” The eagle and Bank of Russia feature are encircled by tiny dots. Between the circular arrangement of dots and the rim are the following inscriptions: “ПЯТЬДЕСЯТ РУБЛЕЙ ” (FIFTY RUBLES) across the top-center of the obverse; “Au 999” (0.999 gold); and the date followed by the mintmark for the Saint Petersburg Mint.
On the lower right is the number 7,78, which refers to the coin’s bullion weight in grams (7.78 grams); above the weight is a small symbol that serves as the mint’s trademark. The obverse was designed by A.V. Baklanov.
A full-field image of Saint George on horseback slaying a dragon covers the majority of the coin’s reverse, also designed by A.V. Baklanov. The St. George and the dragon motif is based on popular imagery that has its origins in the Middle Ages. The dragon is featured in several stories about Saint George, and is the antagonist in several “good versus evil” plots. Considered an allegorical representation of the Devil by scholars and theologians, it is also a symbol of the ego to folklorists and psychologists such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Carl Jung.
Designer(s): A.V. Baklanov is an artist/engraver who has worked on numerous coins for the Bank of Russia.
|Years Of Issue:||2006-present|
|Alloy:||.999 Fine Gold|
|OBV Designer||Ivan Bilibin/A.V. Baklanov|
|REV Designer||A.V. Baklanov|
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