World Coins

Russian platinum 12-ruble coin from short experiment

This PCGS Proof 63 Cameo example of Russia’s 1834 12-ruble platinum coin is one of a reported 11 pieces known.

Images courtesy of Auction World.

In Russia’s wide and fascinating numismatic history, a curious episode from nearly 200 years ago is notable. An extremely rare 12-ruble coin recalls an effort to issue platinum coins for circulation. 

The 1834 coin was a highlight in Auction World’s April 23 auction in Tokyo. The Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 63 Cameo coin realized 17,728,000 Japanese yen ($164,600 U.S.), including the 10.8 percent buyer’s fee. 

Platinum was discovered in the Ural Mountains around 1825, and in 1828 Russia authorized three denominations of platinum coins for Czar Nicholas I: 3-, 6- and 12-ruble pieces.

Then worth about one-third as much as gold, platinum was considered durable, with “excellent striking qualities,” according to Robert P. Harris in A Guidebook of Russian Coins 1725 to 1982.

While mintages of the 3-ruble coin were moderate, the two larger denominations were essentially struck as presentation pieces and other special issues, with most mintages in the hundreds or less. An estimated 11 examples of the 1834 12-ruble coin were struck, Harris wrote.

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In 1845, platinum coinage was abandoned, and remaining pieces were recalled and melted down, a fate that “was caused by public indifference and even hostility toward the pale metal coins,” Harris wrote. 

To learn about the rest of the auction, visit the firm’s website.

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