An important selection of russian coin rarities will be offered by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at their upcoming 2024 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) auction. Assembled almost one hundred years ago, the private Rothschild-Piatigorsky Collection belonged to famed cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and his heiress wife, the Baroness Jacqueline de Rothschild. After escaping the Bolsheviks as a child (though he was already a top professional musician), Piatigorsky became first chair cellist with the Berlin Philharmonic by the age of 18, touring Europe with the orchestra throughout the 1920s. In his mid-twenties, Piatigorsky married de Rothschild in 1937 and started a family in Paris, but they soon had to flee the country because of the threat of the Nazis. Eventually, the family would move to California.
Alongside the couple’s vast collection is a checklist featuring the stamps of Art Trading Co.–one of the main sources of material in the collection–and several Russian rulers from Peter “the Great” to Nicholas II handwritten in Russian. Some of the exceptional highlights of the collection include a 10 Rubles Novodel of Elizabeth; both a 10 Rubles and a 5 Rubles from the short reign of Peter III; a 5 Rubles of Paul; a 25 Rubles of Alexander II (one of just 100 struck); and a 37-1/2 Rubles and an Imperial (a 10 Rubles Pattern) of Nicholas II.
The bill of sale for the 25 Rubles of Alexander II still exists. Made out to “Madame Piatigorski” on April 22, 1939, it points out the great rarity of the coin, as well as its obverse and reverse designs. Bought by Baroness de Rothschild for the sum of $306, this important piece of Russian numismatics has an auction estimate 500 times that amount—and even that may prove too low. In addition, family legend suggests that the gold used to strike this special emission of 25 Rubles was supplied to the Russian government by the Rothschild family itself. While Stack’s Bowers has been unable to verify that claim, there was a definite connection between the French banking sector (which the Rothschild family dominated) and the Imperial Russian court during the late 19th century. Even the 37-1/2 Rubles owes its fascinating denomination to the fact that this would allow it to be traded on par with the French 100 Francs.
The Russian coins of the Rothschild-Piatigorsky Collection will be a significant part of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction at the New York International Numismatic Convention in January 2024. All lots in the auction will be available for viewing and pre-sale bidding in December at StacksBowers.com.
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