By Jay Turner for PCGS ……
Russia 1845 СПБ 6 Rubles – Ex Hutten-Czapski and Mikhailovich Collections – PCGS PR65DCAM
For Russian numismatics, there are many rarities and highly desirable coins. In a recent submission that came into the PCGS Europe office in Paris, a coin was submitted that meets many “dream” categories for those who study Russian numismatics, including rarity, desirability, pedigree, and condition. This coin was a Russia 1845 СПБ Platinum 6 Rubles from the famous Emeryk Hutten-Czapski and Georgy Mikhailovich Collection.
Russia was the first country to monetize platinum into money. The metal had been used since ancient times by different civilizations, often mixing with gold to produce art and artifacts. Platinum as its own element has been traced back to writings as early as 1557. Often, the metal was considered a worthless impurity that was sometimes found in gold. In the 1700s, platinum began to be used by counterfeiters who would produce fake coins of the “worthless” metal and plate them with gold passing them off as Spanish Empire escudo coinage. When counterfeiters were caught, the platinum would be dumped into the ocean to prevent more counterfeiting.
Experiments with the use of platinum in money were done prior to the adaption of issuing circulating coinage from Russia. These pattern coins made of platinum were never adopted. With the discovery of platinum in abundance in Russia in the early 1800s, platinum became known as the new Siberian metal and as a treasure of the Ural Mountains. Mining these deposits began in 1824 and, beginning in 1828, coinage in the denominations of 3, 6, and 12 rubles was produced in platinum mined from the Russian Ural Mountains. Platinum is a heavy metal, and as such, the 3 rubles coin, which was the same size as the 25 kopeks (1/4 ruble), weighed twice as much (5.183 grams versus 10.35 grams) as the silver counterpart.
The circulation of platinum coinage by Russia ended after just 17 years. With the drop in value for platinum, the face value of the coins began to far exceed the metallic value and, thus, created instability in the monetary system. On June 22, 1845, the minting of platinum coinage for circulation was discontinued and in the next six months the circulating platinum 3, 6, and 12 ruble coins were removed from circulation and replaced with the more stable and valuable gold counterparts.
The last year for the striking of platinum by Russia was 1845, and this included all three denominations. The 6 rubles coin is believed to have a mintage of under six pieces, with four examples noted and only three available to own. The four examples are the Tolstoi Collection coin, which was sold by the Auction House Hess on March 10, 1913, and has since not been traced. The Hermitage Duplicate was sold by Hess Auctions on February 18, 1931. The “Renaissance” specimen was sold by Renaissance Auction II on December 6, 2000, and resold by CNG Auctions in a Triton IX sale on January 9, 2006. The Hutten-Czapski and Mikhailovich example is now certified by PCGS.
The Hutten-Czapski pedigree is one of the most famous pedigrees for Russian and Polish coinage. The collector Emeryk Hutten-Czapski was a Polish count who studied in St. Petersburg, Russia and entered Russian civil service reaching high-ranking positions. Over the years he held positions of chamberlain of the court, secret state counsel, governor of Great Novgorod, general manager of the forest department in the Ministry of the Russian State Property, and deputy governor of St. Petersburg. Over the years he had built one of the greatest collections of Russian and Polish coins, medals, and other historical objects. Hutten-Czapski would purchase entire collections and estates from other nobles and incorporate them into his. He would stamp his collector cachet stamp onto his coins, noting they are of his collection. Today, coins featuring his stamp often bring significant premiums over unmarked coins due to the pedigree. In 1885, Hutten-Czapski sold his collection of Russian coins to Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia. Among the 900 coins sold to Mikhailovich was this 1845 Platinum 6 Rubles.
The Grand Duke George Mikhailovich was the son of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich and first cousin to Emperor Alexander III. George Mikhailovich served as a general in the Russian Army in World War I but during the Russian Revolution was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks before being killed by firing squad in 1919. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich’s work in numismatics is one for which he is still recognized today. During his life, he assembled a large collection of Russian coins and medals striving for quality and nearly complete for the Russian Empire. Among his numismatic works is Catalogue of Imperial Russian Coins 1725-1891. He also served as director of the Alexander III Museum.
This exceptional coin was first offered for sale by Adolph Hess with the sale of the Grand Duke Georgy Mikhailovich sale in October 1939. It again crossed the auction block in a Christie’s auction in July 1950. Recently in numismatic auctions, the coin failed to meet reserve in 2006 from a Polish auction house sale. A record price for this coin was achieved in 2018 under the Russian Heritage Numismatic Firm Auction #7 lot 461 when it sold for $450,000 USD. Upon its submission to PCGS in 2021, it was certified and graded PR65DCAM and received a unique spec number for the coin’s collector counterstamp for the Hutten-Czapski collection.
Russia would again reintroduce platinum coins, not as circulation issues but for use as collector commemorative coinage, starting in 1977. The world would eventually embrace platinum as the precious metal it is and numerous coins have been produced in the whitish metal. Yet there is only one last circulation-issue platinum coin, and that is the 6 ruble issue of 1845 from Russia and, of those, this piece now certified by PCGS boasts the best possible pedigrees and is truly a treasure.
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