World Coins

Russian rarities lead Künker auction Feb. 6 in Berlin

Berlin has become the ideal gathering place between East and West, bringing collectors of Russian coins together for auctions.

Fritz Rudolph Künker’s Feb. 6 auction, No. 244, was a prelude to the World Money Fair in Berlin that opened the following day. The auction realized total hammer prices realized of 7.4 million euros (about $10 million U.S.) in a single day.

During the auction, five Russian rarities reached hammer prices in excess of 100,000 euros ($135,191 U.S.). 

The firm reports that strong attendance from dealers and collectors from Russia helped push prices upward.

Five rarities stand out from the 129 Russian pieces offered, including an “extremely rare” test strike of an 1801 rouble of Czar Alexander I struck at the St. Petersburg Mint. Described in the catalog as being slightly cleaned in Very Fine condition, the coin hammered for 100,000 euros against an estimate of 75,000 euros ($101,393 U.S.).

Hammer prices are reported here because the buyer’s fee for each coin varies, from 15 to 23 percent, depending on bidder location and lot type. In addition, some items are subject to a value-added tax; the VAT is added after the addition of the buyer’s fee to the hammer price.

Another star of the auction was the 1837 platinum 12-ruble coin of Nicholas I. One of only 53 examples made, the Proof coin was struck at the St. Petersburg Mint. It realized 100,000 euros against a 40,000 euro ($54,076 U.S.) estimate. 

A pair of gold medals each realized hammer prices of 180,000 euros ($243,344 U.S.).

Nicholas I issued a gold medal of 60-ducat weight to mark the death of his mother, Czarina Maria Feodorovna in 1828. The example sold in the auction is graded “About Mint State,” the firm reported.

The other medal, also issued under Nicholas I, was released in 1829. With a weight equal to 50 ducats, the medal celebrated the Treaty of Adrianople with Turkey. It is recorded as grading Very Fine to Extremely Fine. 

One of the most notable Russian coins in the auction was the 1902 gold 37.5-ruble piece (100 franken) of Nicholas II. 

Struck at the St. Petersburg Mint, the coin has a mintage of 225 examples. Graded “About Mint State,” the coin hammered for 130,000 euros ($175,748 U.S.) against an estimate of 75,000 euros ($101,393 U.S.).

Other highlights

Strong sales came in other areas of the auction as well, and not only for high-end material.

The 335 lots of German coins offered many a surprise, according to representatives of Künker, but no lot was more of a surprise than the 1630 half reichsthalerklippe bearing a portrait of Albrecht of Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, minted in Sagan.

The “extremely rare, magnificently preserved piece” shows the well-known half-length portrait of the duke with the large collar; the portrait appears in the same way the controversial politician is depicted in contemporary prints. 

The coin led all bidding in the German section, realizing 130,000 euros ($175,748 U.S.) against an estimate of 20,000 euros ($27,038 U.S.).

An 1887 copper 10-santim pattern from Bulgaria outpaced expectations, realizing a hammer price of 2,800 euros ($3,785 U.S.), more than five times its estimate of 500 euros ($676 U.S.). Eight examples of the pattern are known, and this example was graded as “About Mint State.” 

Coins of Greece were represented by an About EF 100-drachm coin of George I from 1876. One of 76 examples known, the coin realized 55,000 euros ($74,355 U.S.) against an estimate of 40,000 euros ($54,076 U.S.).

One of the most stunning results came for a rare coin from Thailand.

According to Künker representatives, many European dealers were surprised when the undated (circa 1864) 4-baht coin realized 44,000 euros ($59,484 U.S.) after having an estimate of 7,500 euros ($10,139 U.S.). The coin has traces of mounting and a reworked edge visible.

The extremely rare coin was produced for the 60th birthday of King Mongkut.

A possible explanation for the stunning result might be the fact that many Thais consider King Mongkut as one of their most important historical figures. Prior to his accession to the throne, he lived 27 years as a monk. Bearing the name Rama IV, he opened up his country to Western knowledge. Although he had to assign many rights to the British, he was more successful in leading his country into the modern era than many other Asian rulers in the 19th century, according to the auction house. 

His story has become well known today because of the biography of the English teacher Anna Leonowens, which was turned into the musical The King and I.

Complete auction results are available at the firm’s website, For more information, telephone the firm at (011) 49 541 96 20 20 or email it at

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